A Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Burger & Lobster, Mayfair

Aaaah we finally made it!
This place has been on the "to visit" list for a while and what better time to go other than an impromptu mid-week, post-meetings dinner? 
I tried to think why this place is so popular and I decided that it is a result of social media marketing; the power of insta-celebrities and bloggers. Once the Muzungu Sisters put it on their instafeed for example, next week everybody visiting London was on their way to some lobster galore.

The other obvious reason is lobster off course!
I love this sudden turn to more affordable seafood and especially lobster in London. Downplay the surroundings, mess around with the idea of a crab-shack turned industrial chic and attract cooler people, at reasonable prices. Makes perfect business sense!

 So what's the verdict? T
he place is easy-going, but I was a bit confused between the rough-looking ceiling and visible ventilation units meeting leather, dinner-style seating and wooden-panelled walls. I see what they were going for, but to me it seemed unfinished. Anyway, it was packed with couples, friends, colleagues...everybody chatting away, merrily.

The food was good, three options: burger, lobster or lobster roll, all served with salad and chips, all £20!
The funny thing is that we both went for the lobster rolls, but as soon as they arrived we looked at each other thinking...we should have gone for a burger to share too, because the roll didn't look that substantial. Half way through taking greedy bites out of the brioche roll along with huge chunks of buttery lobster, we reconsidered! It was so filling alongside thin and crispy fries that go down a treat, without even you noticing! It would have been nice if the roll was a bit warmer though; the lobster is steamed and the roll has been toasted before, hence it gets cold very quickly -  not that it stopped us from battling it down to the last crumb!

 Now, there is one thing I'd happily go back for: cherry float cola with a hint of whiskey!
It is old-school , with a hint of vanilla! and for somebody who will normally not touch whiskey, that says a lot!

The Lion Inn, Winchcomb

A row of cottages in charming Winchcomb
How much do you research a place you are going to visit?
I am - correction, used to be - manic about finding out what there is to see, do, watch, shop...phew...eat, smell and so on!
The result was that I could tell you what's around a corner I had never been to before but also feel let down if it didn't turn out to be exactly as I had built it up in my head.

Lately, I've toned down this obsession and guess what? Last weekend, I just booked a room in a boutique Inn in the Cotswolds, just because I happened to like the look of it and off we went!
 

a walk around the village revealed the entrance to the castle!
It turns out that Winchcombe, where the Lion Inn is located, is the village on the tip of Sudeley Castle! (check availability

We only found out just because our room didn't have a TV and we set off for the corner shop to buy some newspapers and magazines. In typical mid-afternoon village-lifestyle, everything was  shut and we carried on walking down a path that led to... Sudeley castle!
Why do I keep repeating the name?
Well, Sudeley's gardens are highly regarded within the UK and also that's where Elizabeth Hurley got married last time! aaaah, now you know!
Moral of the story is that although we are reminded to be super-organised on daily basis to avoid more stress, it is "letting go" that we find so difficult to do, in order to relax when we are on holiday!
 
 
 
Let me rewind a bit to the no TV point.
So, the Inn is beautifully decorated, with serene tones of grey and beige on the walls, exposed beams and brickwork here and there but the rooms have no TV.
I guess, it's not such a disaster, since the excuse for coming here is that you want to relax and maybe go outdoors more? If anything, you should be thankful.
 

There is a lovely little garden at the back for sunny afternoons and the bar/lounge area unfolds around a massive stone fireplace, lit with candles all through the day. Very relaxing, whatever the weather!
 
In the evenings, the bar comes to life, with locals and visitors, all smartly dressed.
Winchcomb might be a village, but let's not forget that this is where South Ken & Chelsea migrate to, in the weekends!
Everybody seems more relaxed and smiley though! It must be the fresh air.
 


I loved our bedroom, especially the little details like the buttoned headboard and small chandelier; little splashes of luxury...above a pub! 
 

Benedict's Store, Beaconsfield


There's a new kid in town: Benedict's!
Don't let the name fool you, no monks to be found here; only naughty brownies, ginger breads and homely carrot cakes! With its' retro appearance, it adds a fresh, independent note to charming Beaconsfield. I have a feeling that this is going to become a local hangout.

It helps that the owners are constantly smiling, chatting away to customers, advising on how to "build" a sandwich... did I even hear some humming over there, close to the coffee machine?

There are a couple of tables for intimate coffee dates but there is also a corner dedicated to speciality bits & bobs, like unusual cordials with childhood-reminiscent names, shiny olive oil and bars of chocolate in retro wrapping,just to name a few.  

Get a cup of smooth coffee to sit back to catch a glimpse of this sub-urban microcosm;
mothers out and about with their kiddies, older couples looking for a cosy spot for tea; and off course the young & successful, cruising around in their sports cars - oh, well! it's all part of the bank holiday sunny weekend!

 

Crêpe Trio



What plans do you have this bank holiday weekend? If you are not on the ferry to Calais already the next best thing to start off your day is with a yummy, homely breakfast. When I was little, ready-made crepe mix was the "new thing" and that's all my mum used to make! Then I started messing around with it and after -literally - decades of mixing crepe batter and flipping crepes in the air, I have come to count this as one of my favourite, earthy ways to feed friends and family!

For 10-12 crepes, you simply need:
- one cup of all purpose flour
- half a cup of milk
- half a cup of water
- one egg
- pinch of salt
- three spoonfuls of melted butter
- extra melted butter for frying


Whisk the flour, egg, milk and water together, add a pinch of salt and three spoonfuls of butter and you are ready to rock and roll! Take a pastry brush and coat the inside of a small non-stick shallow frying pan and let it get quite hot. I use a small espresso cup to pour the batter in the pan, but you can use a soup ladle too.

Hold the pan with one hand and start pouring the batter from higher up with the other, while slowly swirling the pan for the batter to cover the whole area. It only takes three minutes for it to cook and then you are ready for the fun part- flipping! Swirl the pan around to get the crepe moving and then swing it forwards and backwards quickly once, to get the crepe to flip over. It's easier said than done, I know, so just use a broad spatula if you prefer.

As soon as you flip it over, layer a piece of ham, your favourite melting cheese (from Gouda to Cedar, it's all up to you!) and a dollop of extra flavouring on the cooked side and fold it in half. It all takes two minutes tops! You can put your crepes under the hot grill for five minutes to crisp up the edges and cook the ham a bit further if you want.

For the trio of flavours this time I went with: apricot jam, then sweet chili sauce and finally hot English mustard. It's just nice to go from a hint of sweet&salty, velvety, melted cheesy flavour to a more fiery one. Take a bite and have a great weekend! x

 

Park Hyatt, Arossim Beach


Sunshine, flowers and the ocean: a summary of Hyatt's daily life.   
Arriving at reception is as tropical as it gets: an open structure, overlooking the peaceful lagoon that runs through the resort, fans lazily breaking the heat and coconuts cut open offering their refreshing nectar to arriving guests. 
Water runs along almost all paths throughout the resort; the lagoon, the pools and the little waterfalls fill in the space with the soothing sound of water to complement the everlasting sunny days.


Guess what the staff do during their free time? Play cricket off course! And they are serious about it! I followed the cheering one afternoon thinking there is a party, only to find a serious game underway, on the lawn, next to the beach. Otherwise life around the resort is peaceful. Mornings are quite and slow, tea in the private veranda amidst the palm trees is pure bliss. It allows you this valuable time off, to breath and think about simple pleasures and remind yourself that once you are back home you will not get back into your usual frantic routine! 



Days are spent by one of the three interconnected pools. 
In the afternoon shifting to the beach to prepare for the gorgeous sunset is an excuse for a nice walk around the 22 acres of the resort! 
And what better way to end a long hot day other than putting your sandals on and heading to one of the shacks to grab a drink, smoke some sisha and why not, dance around a bit? The shack owners are not bothered if you want to play dj either! Just keep the party going!Three shacks are dotted on the beach in front of the resort providing alternative snacks and drinks at slightly better prices. You can still get Kingfisher beer for 80 rupees (£1 more or less) and a plate of fried prawns for a fiver. I guess that's not bad? what do you think? Locals were saying that even they cannot get cheap fish in the markets any more, because it's all used up at the resorts or exported.



Unfortunately cocktails are not the resort's strong point, but cold coffee blend with ice cream more than makes up for it! 
There is great variety of food available, from elegant beach-side grill for lobsters and ribs to a piazza with Italian, Indian, Chinese and Thai restaurants. 
Food is good and you are probably better off going for an all-inclusive package because there aren't any other restaurants close to the resort, everything is a taxi ride away, so you'll end up eating here most of the time anyway. 

The resort is located on a quite beach in South Goa. 
Great if what you want are lazy days, with nobody bothering you on the beach. I mean , nobody! 
It is relatively safe and the hotel provides security staff, in case you fancy taking a dip in the ocean. On the other hand, everything is a taxi ride away: Majorda Beach and Varca Beach are only 10-20 minutes and Old Goa with its' Portuguese heritage is 30 minutes drive. 
  


First Timer's Goa

Don't ask me why, but I expected Goa airport to be all fancy and modern, especially when you hear about how many people pass through its' gates every year; not to mention the celebrities!

So I was rather amused when we landed in an old airfield that doubles as military base, a tiny terminal and a shack with a canopy outside, to keep the sun away!
I tried imagining all those who take themselves too seriously, arriving in this place expecting la-di-da treatment and paparazzi! How silly! I must confess, that brought a smile to my face. 
To be fair, a new building is underway, so enjoy the good old shack while it lasts! 
 


Then came the drive to our resort, the Park Hyatt Arossim Beach.
Coming from Delhi, with its' strong Hindu culture evident everywhere, I fell confused for a moment when I realised the bus driver's patron saint was Mary, rather than Hanumanji or Ganeshji! One of India's little ways to amuse itself by confusing its' visitors?

When the bus entered an area covered in mature palm trees, we couldn't help but smile at the cows closing our way; it wasn't our first time in India, but this sight never stops being amusing! 
As lovely little villas started appearing from in-between the trees, all we could say was "look at this" and "look at that", pointing fingers in all directions.
I'm not talking about manicured homes and gardens but rustic, shabby even, bungalows and low rise villas in the cutest, brightest colours popping out of the palm tree forest! Think bright orange and blue walls with arched green windows and bougainvilleas climbing up on every side!
Ah, the bright fuchsia bougainvilleas! they make me so happy and remind me of home!



Again , to my confusion, little chapels popped up on the road side, wall to wall with mandirs (Hindu temples); it's funny that although you know about the Portuguese heritage of this place you cannot help but wonder: where are we again? 
 

Coconut water was waiting for us at the hotel;
humidity makes it difficult to even breath and all you can do is sip on cold liquids to keep hydrated! Tired or not, whether you arrive early or late, you must go see the ocean.
No words can describe the powerful element that expands until the eye can see.
Wide stretches of white south Goan sandy beach meet the waves from the Indian Ocean.
The sound is overpowering, you can sit there and watch the water all day and night.
 
Ah the water! Luke warm, just like someone has been running a bath for you!
Time for a swim? I certainly think so!

Spring greens and blues...

In signature English-weather style, most of last week has been cold-ish with hints if sunshine during the day when you are at work, turning lovely greyish when you decide to go home. Do you give in the spring blues or...do you pop out at lunchtime and get the cutest bouquet of flowers that will brighten up your desk till home-time?  My current love and joy is peonies but a bunch of fresh, tightly-knit rose buds does just the trick too! 


Walk home with this cutie, against the grey backdrop and smile at how you resemble a heroine in a rom-com; Bridget, Carrie or Jess, take your pick! When it's cold and rainy outside you probably don't want to have rabbit food for dinner - yes I mean salad - and I have just the thing. It's a quick, ridiculously easy and yummy warm dish. Get some asparagus and baby broccoli spears, cut off and discard the end of the stalks and throw the remaining lovely greens in a hot pan with nothing else. Keep turning them around every so often and once they are charred here and there take the pan off the heat and drizzle some fresh olive oil and sweet vinegar reduction over them, salt and pepper! Done! It's a bright green crunchy and warm salad that accompanies almost everything. Tonight it's keeping company to mac&cheese! 
 

 

 
 

Island Wardrobe


With a girlie holiday in the Med coming up, I have been looking for some summery, flirty pieces to fill my luggage with! 
Navy twist with a bright
summery azure blue from BSB.
Throw this over your swimsuit
and be fabulous all day long! 
 

Hand-made Christina Fragista
Cephalonia sandal finished off
with a semi precious turquoise
Howlite stone! 

 
I was so excited to see
this top from
Masala Tee!
Classic prints with stone
embellishments - how clever!



Cute denim shorts or what?
from
BSB, paired with Christina
Fragista sandals for happy,

easy days!



Christina Fragista
eye-candy for endless
strolling in the
cobbled paths of Capri,
Hydra
& Formentera!




Tory Burch white logo bikini.
Yes white!


You'll look
a million bucks with a tan!


Delhi hustle & bustle

Babylonian Court? No, just the Leela courtyard...
 
When you are in Delhi, there is way too much noise, colours, people, shops, cars and rickshaws to be able to even hear your own thoughts! 
But when you come back, you start reminiscing about your favourite bits. 
The list is long, so here they are: 

Beautiful rooftop infinity pool at the Leela and by the way, the picture isn't clear enough because of the smog in Delhi's air...who would have thought? 
Stay...
Give the ultra-luxurious Leela Palace a go. (check availability)
It is as grand and impressive as it gets. In the afternoon there is a live quartet playing in the lobby - for your ears only! How bizarre, to have such a tranquil oasis inside but absolute chaos, just outside the gates.  Lovely silver panels hang on the walls that shine in the candlelight and every floor looks like a mini flower shop as soon as the lift door opens: there are console tables covered in small and large bouquets and elegant arrangements.

Staff is always prompt to help and even check-in is done in your room, for your own convenience. Thoughtful little details that matter after a nine hour flight! We stayed in a Grand Deluxe room, which was incredibly spacious with full length windows that let you watch the world go by, in Delhi's Diplomatic Enclave.

Super-plus point: the rooftop infinity pool; need I say more? 
As soon as you sit down to relax by the pool a picnic basket arrives with complimentary water and fresh lemonade - nimbu paani. If you are thinking "why is free water so exciting"? 
Well, just wait till you visit, bottled water will be your best friend!
 
Left: the view from our room, Right: beautiful flower displays throughout the Leela in Delhi

Eat...
for your evening endeavours you'll find hidden in small boutique hotels two very different but equally successful restaurants.
The Olive Beach is great for a touch of Mediterranean food and delicious cocktails. If you need a change from Indian food, give it a try. It's located close to the Leela Palace, in the boutique hotel Diplomat.
Another choice for uber-cool dishes loosely based on good, old, Indian favourites is Indian Accent, in Manor hotel. Both restaurants deserved their own blog post each, so click on the names to find out all the yummy details!
My absolute favourite evening spot is Hauz Khas. A boheme village, full of westernised restaurants & live music joints, mingling with ethnic boutiques and lounge bars.
A great boutique that combines all of the up and coming Indian designers is Ogaan, right at the entrance of the village.
Next up is Smoke House Deli, a great brunch spot with views over the water reservoir and a more sophisticated environment for evening dining. 
One of my favourite places is TLR Café though; a three floor laid back restaurant/lounge/live music spot. It's an institution in the local music scene, with bands always playing throughout the evening. The food is good, not exceptional, but with a bottle of vino you can sit back and feel that retro vibe.

Shopping and cafes...
Khan Market is a central spot with jewellery and clothes shops, all in one parade. I have to admit, shopping malls in Delhi are impressive and air conditioned but I love being outside popping in and out of shops and cafes;
  
Here you can browse around the shops and pop into Smoke House Deli for lunch.
It's not easy to find, you'll have to enter into the inner walk of Khan Market to find the entrance, a staircase crammed between other buildings and air condition units. But once you're upstairs it's a different story! 

The place was buzzing with groups of friends, chatting away.
I couldn't help but smile when I declared my favourite dish to be mac&cheese! Burgers are highly stacked, juicy and very tasty. 
A friend of ours, who was involved in the creation of this space, told us that the local area's history was researched carefully, prior to decorating the interiors. 
Hand-drawn sketches cover all walls, resembling a study with books related to local personalities and stories; there is even a desk drawn, with a real telephone sticking out of the wall! 
a fun, easy place to pop into for a break from the heat and a spot of lunch!
Another nice surprise on one of the outside shops of Khan Market, is a boudoir-like café on the third floor of an interior decorating shop, Good Earth.
It feels like Cath Kidston's wallpapers exploded in this tiny loft space, mixed with miniature chandeliers, making it a cute little hideaway from the hustle & bustle. Refreshing rose petal spritzer, mint and elderflower cooler, quick chat and off we go!

For a touch of luxury designer shopping, try Tarun Tahilani's store in Defence Colony. 
He is indisputably my favourite Indian designer because each one of his pieces exerts elegance. 
Let's be honest, we were here on a quest to find outfits for our Indian wedding and his staff were really helpful. Even if you don't need indian outfits however,  the spree blouses can easily be paired with jeans or lovely palazzo pants. 
Revelation: saree belts! they can be used over soft, chiffon dresses or long shirts for a stylish finish.


Brunch...
I think I have just had breakfast in the Babylonian court! 
Leela Palace's hotel courtyard is luxurious enough to play the part.  Well,  it's Babylon the way I have pictured it in my mind anyway, after a dozen visits to the marvellous stone-reliefs from Mesopotamia in the British Museum. And there is  always the "Alexander" movie to go with, now that's historic accuracy. I'm joking!


Let me rewind this story: our flight arrived in New Delhi very early in the morning and by the time we got to the hotel it was time  for breakfast. 
Now, imagine sitting in a triangular courtyard, covered in bronze wall tablets, surrounded by tall reddish pillars, manicured lawn, flower beds bursting with all colours of the rainbow and at the far end an impressive bronze Gautam Buddha statue. 
There were even butterflies, hovering over flower-tops. I am not making it up, it was something to smile about first thing in the morning!


Even if you are not staying at the Leela, you can brunch at The Qube;
tiny bagels with cream cheese and salmon, watermelon juice, wholemeal croissant (buttery all the way) and fresh colourful papaya, dragon fruit and mango for me, please! 
Dosa, potato and paneer stuffed parantha (indian bread) and cream filled doughnut for my other half!
You name it, they'll make it for you!


There you have it, my list for a couple of days in Delhi;
hope you get to visit one day, it's the ultimate city of extremes: rich and poor, noise and tranquillity, ancient Mughal monuments and spit-spot air-conditioned malls, rickshaws and the new sparkling metro system;
Delhi can be what you want it to be!

© Life Love London

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