It’s Carnival Time at Chelsea In Bloom

It’s that time of the year again when the stores of Chelsea come alive with floral displays that bring vibrance and character to the streets. That’s right, Chelsea In Bloom is back!

Chelsea In Bloom 2016

And Monica Vinader’s gorgeous display (below) should give you an idea of this year’s theme if you don’t know it already.

Chelsea In Bloom 2016

The theme is Carnival and I love how T.ba on Pavilion Road have been inspired by Carnevale di Venezia. This is such an exquisite display, I love it.

Chelsea In Bloom 2016

And there are the Carnival animals of course, like The Little White Company’s beautiful elephant.

Chelsea In Bloom 2016

Or No. 11 Cadogan Garden’s fantastic parrot.

Chelsea In Bloom 2016

Last year’s Chelsea In Bloom winner, Sarah Chapman, has created yet another stunning display.

Chelsea In Bloom 2016

And Liz Earle’s ‘Carnivearle’ makes you feel like you’re at a fairground when you see its wonderful spectacle. The attention to detail with all these displays is astounding.

Chelsea In Bloom 2016

And to top it off, Sloane Square has been turned into a Carnival beach where you can dress up in a headdress; grab a free rickshaw ride to go round the displays; and enjoy a Bloom Gin cocktail at The Botanist’s pop-up bar.

Chelsea In Bloom 2016

The pop-up bar will be open from Wednesday to Saturday (until 8pm everyday except Saturday when it closes at 5pm). Or, you can step into The Botanist for a Chelsea In Bloom cocktail. I’ve had a sneak taste of Bloom Gin’s cocktail that will be served outside and it is utterly gorgeous.

Chelsea In Bloom 2016

So with apparently the hottest summer this century round the corner and the Rio Olympics too, a cocktail on Sloane Square’s beach is definitely something not to be missed.

Chelsea Girl

The Ivy Chelsea Garden Gets Ready for RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The Ivy Chelsea Garden are getting ready for RHS Chelsea Flower Show with their beautiful floral display, which is also getting me in the mood for next week’s Chelsea In Bloom.

The Ivy Chelsea Garden flowers

This display reminds of last year’s beautiful fairy tale Chelsea In Bloom designs, which you can take a look at here.

The Ivy Chelsea Garden flowers

But this isn’t the first time The Ivy Chelsea Garden has stopped passersby with their stunning exterior.

The Ivy Chelsea Garden flowers

For Easter, we were stopped in our tracks thanks to this gorgeous display:

I love flowers and I especially love it when Chelsea comes to life each year with Chelsea In Bloom. And with this year’s theme being Carnival, exciting plans for Sloane Square afoot and a 4-metre tall parrot planned for Duke of York Square, I have a feeling that this year’s Chelsea In Bloom is going to be bigger than ever – and I can’t wait to see what the stores and restaurants are going to surprise us with.

Roll on Chelsea In Bloom, I’m so excited!

Chelsea Girl

Afternoon Tea on Dalloway Terrace at The Bloomsbury Hotel

I’ve always been a fan of The Bloomsbury Hotel and consider its bar and terrace undiscovered gems in the heart of London.

Well, that’s what I thought a couple of years ago because since my last visit there have been developments that have completely transformed both spaces and now there seems to be plenty of chatter about this West End hotel.

The al fresco space which is a minute’s walk away from Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road is now called the Dalloway Terrace.

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

And when you consider Bloomsbury’s literary heritage, it makes sense that The Bloomsbury Hotel would name its finest feature after the most prolific character from one of Bloomsbury’s former residents, Virginia Woolf. In fact, to this day Bloomsbury is still considered one of the literary capitals of the world with Bloomsbury Publishing and Faber & Faber still residing within this beautiful area.

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

So when I was invited to a bloggers afternoon tea which would be hosted by Angie, I was very excited to join EmmaLauren, Katie, Honey, Jess, Ben, and Mehreen.

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

I knew it was going to be a chance to catch up with a few of my favourite bloggers as well as an opportunity to get to meet some new faces. And after plenty of mingling and Champagne …

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

… we all took our seats to enjoy a new afternoon tea experience with the weather on our side.

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

I’m not so much of a big tea drinker maybe it’s because I don’t think soya milk suits tea as it does coffee. But I do love non-milky tea and so I ordered their white tea, which I enjoyed.

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

As for the menu, The Bloomsbury Afternoon Tea was inspired by original recipes from the 1920s and 1930s which have been given a modern twist by the hotel’s chefs.

I had a gluten-free version of the menu, which was the first time I had tried a gluten-free afternoon tea. Admittedly, it has made me reconsider cutting out wheat so drastically and for my next afternoon review I am planning on opting for the original menu for fear of missing out again.

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

But all in all, the whole afternoon tea experience was a true delight. So much so, the …

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

… conversations meandered into the evening when we left the terrace and made our way down the stairs, past the twinkling lights and live jazz music – and headed into the hotel’s bar which is another gem in itself. Unfortunately, soon after this photo (below) was taken the battery in my camera ran out so I have no photographic evidence of the wonderful cocktails served here.

Still, I guess it gives me another reason to return …

… along with the wonderful oasis set in the heart of the West End, that is the Dalloway Terrace.

*Thank you Angie and Dalloway Terrace for a gorgeous afternoon!

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel, 16-22 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3NN.

Chelsea Girl

Great lunch and brow bar at A Wanted Man on King’s Road

When the first signs of A Wanted Man started to appear on the King’s Road I was intrigued. An espresso canteen was promising. After all, it’s not an easy task finding good coffee along King’s Road.

A Wanted Man, King's Road

So when I was invited in to try this relatively new establishment I leapt at the chance. And what I discovered inside impressed me very much.

A Wanted Man

Firstly, A Wanted Man is more than a coffee bar. It’s a place to go for a great all day breakfast or lunch menu. And they serve cold-pressed juices too. Their Green Velvet with pear, apple, spinach and kale was a real hit.

A Wanted Man, King's Road

I was really spoilt for choice when I was reading through their menu and after much consideration I chose the Annie Get Your Chickpea Aubergine Salad with yoghurt dressing and chunks of sourdough waffle.

This was absolutely delicious and also very satisfying. It’s exactly the type of food I love making at home but with the added twist of the cumin and fresh mint which I enjoyed along with the waffle.

And the rest of the menu is something I definitely want to explore more: A Fistful Of Oatmeal Pork Risotto and The Avocado With No Name are at the top of my savoury list whilst the Rich Man, Poor Man’s Pudding which is their take on the French-Canadian classic with maple syrup, toffee, almond and brown sugar served with an espresso shot is a very tempting indulgence.

A Wanted Man, King's Road

This time round however I chose this gluten-free and dairy free cookie which I savoured along with my …

A Wanted Man, King's Road

… soya flat white. What a delightful end to my lunch.

A Wanted Man, King's Road

Thing is, you’d think the experience would end here.

Maybe somewhere else but A Wanted Man also has a Browhaus brow bar and Ministry of Waxing salon upstairs.

A Wanted Man, King's Road

So after my gorgeous lunch, I headed upstairs to look around.

A Wanted Man, King's Road

This (below) is where the waxing takes place and Ministry of Waxing are pioneers in the practice of safe waxing, a message they’re keen to spread.

A Wanted Man, King's Road

And here (below) is where I had my eyebrows threaded and tinted. I really enjoyed the natural lighting and also the details that make you feel as if you’ve just stepped onto the set of a Western. This is a place where you can enjoy the surroundings whilst being pampered. I don’t think I have ever had such a relaxing threading experience as I’d had here – if threading and relaxing can be placed alongside each other.

A Wanted Man, King's Road

A Wanted Man is a breath of fresh air to the King’s Road. True, they serve great coffee, have a gorgeous menu and provide wonderful service with the brow bar. But its appeal is more than that, there’s a quirkiness that I love and it’s matched by the quality of what it offers.

A Wanted Man, 330 King’s Road, London SW3.

Chelsea Girl

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at Saatchi Gallery

I’m not quite sure why it’s taken me so long to write this post especially as I visited Exhibitionism at Saatchi Gallery on the first day of its opening; at 11am, the first walk-in time slot.

What’s more, I absolutely loved the exhibition which I’m keen to see again before it ends in September.

Thinking about it, it’s probably because I’m not what you may consider a bona fide fan of The Rolling Stones. I appreciate their classics and their legacy but I don’t think I’ve ever bought any of their music. So I wasn’t sure what I could say about the exhibition.

Perhaps I’ll start with … So why did I enjoy it so much?

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square

As much as Exhibitionism is about The Rolling Stones, it’s also about the integrity of music. We get to see the showpieces over time, from the instruments to the costumes and in one section an actual 3-D show performance of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction that makes you feel as if you’re front row at a live show. It is amazing.

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square

And of course there is the local nostalgia from The Rolling Stones’ early days when they lived on Edith Grove, which is very close to where I live now.

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square

The authenticity of their first Chelsea digs is also testimony that these musicians struggled at the start of their careers. And the romantic in me imagines their passion for music driving them to their global success spanning decades as it continues to do so today.

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square

There’s a glimpse into the way they work and throughout the exhibition there are chances to hear their different sounds. After all, an exhibition about rock gods needs to have some music. And fans of The Rolling Stones have plenty to delight in.

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square

Throughout the exhibition there is an element of the wow factor, so much so you feel like there’s a need to return to appreciate the full spectrum of what The Rolling Stones have achieved.

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at Saatchi Gallery on Duke of York Square

But what I got most of all from Exhibitionism is the level of energy these musicians still have. Whether it’s from their live shows or the excitement they create in their fans, one thing is for certain: there aren’t many music groups that can keep up with these guys. And it’s no wonder why.

Exhibitionism runs until 4th September at Saatchi Gallery on Duke of York Square.

Chelsea Girl

Exploring Taschen and Dinner at Manicomio on Duke of York Square

I love books. Books are my passion. I buy more than I can read and I still have so many yet to be opened from my days as a bookseller, as I worked my way through uni. and shortly after.

So you can imagine my delight when I found myself organising a bloggers event that was to start at Taschen on Duke of York Square.

After some bubbles and a catch-up with a great crowd that included Angie, Suze, Fiona, Emma, Lauren, Aftab, Matilda and Tania, the manager of Taschen (Nolan Browne) led us around the store to explain the background of Taschen’s unique publishing ethos and the wide array of titles in the store.

And as I listened to Nolan telling us about Benedikt Taschen’s agenda to create a greater accessibility to the wonders of art in publishing, I started to think back to my initial purchases as I built my book collection. It was Taschen that published the first Magritte book I bought and I remember picking up this two-book Van Gogh publication (below) from a store in Besançon where I studied for my third year at uni. It was also Taschen that published the first interiors book I bought. And to this day I’m still picking up titles I feel I need in my collection. Thing is, whilst Taschen provided an entry point into the world of art and interiors for me they also publish some of the most exclusive books you can get your hands on – and I want them all!

Taschen Books

Nolan talked us through Taschen’s limited editions …

David Bowie at Taschen, Duke of York Square

… and Sumo books that are sometimes accompanied by limited edition prints. I meant to take a photo of the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) book which is something I would love at home. If you’re a Muhammed Ali fan, I urge you to visit the downstairs of Taschen’s store to discover a book that was printed with such care, you’d find the same craftsmanship at the Vatican.

Taschen, Duke of York Square, London

The start of the evening satisfied the book-nerd in me and it also gave me ideas for future gifts. There’s a gorgeous publication on tree houses which is perfect for someone I know who loves architecture and of course tree houses. 🙂

After a tour of Taschen, we all popped over to Manicomio. We could have hopped, it’s so close. And our night here started with a gorgeous vodka-based cocktail called Jagged Wood; a nod to Exhibitionism at Saatchi Gallery which is a must-visit exhibition whether you love The Rolling Stones or not. It’s very impressive.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

And as we waited for our starters to arrive, we were pleasantly surprised by the shots of truffle soup that were served to us. I love truffles and I savoured the thick texture of this soup. It was a great preamble to our meal.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

For starter I had the yellow fin tuna which was gorgeous too.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

And for main I ordered the chicken tagliata with asparagus, artichoke and onions which I had with a side of …

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

… rosemary potatoes.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

Dessert was the buttermilk panna cotta with rhubarb, which I absolutely loved.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

As usual Manicomio didn’t disappoint and it was great to finally experience this place in the evening. I’ve always been drawn to Manicomio for lunch or a glass of wine in the afternoon because I love their terrace. So it was a treat to discover the nighttime buzz inside the restaurant.

There is so much to look forward to over spring/summer on Duke of York Square, which I’ll be sure to cover on here. But to give you the heads up, here are some dates for your diary …

  • Chelsea in Bloom – 23rd to 28th May
  •  Strawberries & Screen for the Wimbledon semi-finals and finals  – 8th to 10th July
  • HRH The Queen’s 90th Birthday & Commonwealth Market, which will include a street party style occasion to mimic the Queen’s own celebrations at the Mall  – 12th June
  • The BFG Dream Jar Trail’s arrival into Chelsea, which will excite any Roald Dahl fan – 8th July to 31st August

Maybe I’ll see you around?

Chelsea Girl

Pagoda at Battersea Park

I remember first visiting the Pagoda at Battersea Park with school. It was such a big thing for our teacher. We had to take our shoes off when we reached the top of the steps and I was in such awe of these golden statues.

Flash forward to today and I still love crossing Albert Bridge and walking along the river, through Battersea Park. It’s one of my favourite spots and here’s a glimpse of my last visit on 360°. 🙂

Chelsea Girl

Belly Dancing and Dinner at Buddha-Bar London

I absolutely love turning up somewhere not knowing what to expect, only to end up having a fun-packed evening filled with a string of surprises. This happened a few weeks ago when Suze from The Luxury Columnist invited me to visit Buddha-Bar in Knightsbridge with her.

Buddha Bar Knightsbridge

I absolutely adore Suze so I already knew the night was going to be great fun. What I hadn’t anticipated were the fantastic cocktails served by the charming bar staff; the tuna tartare with a hint of truffles that wowed both Suze and I; and the wonderful atmosphere that happens regularly with Buddha-Bar’s 1001 Nights.

Buddha Bar Knightsbridge

1001 Nights is an evening of belly dancing where the diners are also taken by the music and the whole basement part of the restaurant truly comes to life as we are transported into the tales of the Arabian Nights. Some diners head to the dance floor, others stand up to dance by their tables, and some even create their own stage by standing on their chair. When those professional belly dancers step through the door, the evening becomes charged.

This was my first visit to a Buddha-Bar – a name that can be found all around the world, from Prague to Manila and from New York to Monaco. The first one opened in Paris in 1997 and many years later the London bar and restaurant serves fusion cuisine and experimental cocktails that are spectacles in themselves.

The cocktail we started the night with was the Bubble Wap, a signature cocktail that included strawberry & raspberry puree, rose liquor, elderflower liquor, with touch of Belvedere vodka and topped up with Champagne – which I absolutely loved. I also had a lychee martini at the bar which also didn’t disappoint.

Buddha-Bar is now on my radar as somewhere to drop in for a good cocktail when catching up with a friend and their 1001 Nights is definitely something I’d recommend for a refreshingly fun night.

Buddha-Bar London, 145 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7PA

Celebrating The Queen’s 90th Birthday at Corinthia Hotel London

Last week I had the great pleasure of visiting the Whitehall Penthouse at Corinthia Hotel where I stood upon its terrace to glimpse Buckingham Palace in the distance.

Celebrating The Queen's 90th Birthday at Corinthia Hotel London

The special occasion was The Queen’s 90th birthday, which meant the morning started with an obligatory glass of Champagne. 😉

Celebrating The Queen's 90th Birthday at Corinthia Hotel London

The brunch was also an opportunity to preview the menu for the 1920s themed Jazz Sunday Brunch, which will be held on 12th June in celebration of The Queen’s public birthday.

Starters on the full menu include …

Crème Dubarry, Charred Cauliflower and Chervil Cream

Smoked Salmon and Halibut Terrine with Sweet Pickled Cucumber and Dill

Chicken and Foie Gras with Wild Mushrooms and Morels, Cumberland Sauce 

Eggs Benedict Financier, Monmouthshire Beech Smoked Ham 

Beef Steak Tartare, Fresh Bloody Mary Sauce 

Scotch Egg

My favourite was definitely the beef steak tartare with the fresh Bloody Mary sauce because of the burst of flavour that felt adventurous yet familiar at the same time.

Celebrating The Queen's 90th Birthday at Corinthia Hotel London

There will also be a seafood display on 12th June which will involve …

Oysters, Served with Lemon Merlot Vinegar and Shallots

Prawn Cocktail Marie Rose and Fresh Horseradish

Dressed Cornish Crab and Avocado, Crème Fresh

I tried the oysters which were very good though I didn’t try the prawn cocktail or the Cornish crab but I heard plenty of compliments around me about the crab.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For mains there is a choice of …

Saddle of Lamb stuffed with Spinach and Kidneys, served with Roast Potato or Dauphinoise Potatoes and Honey Roast Root Vegetables

Smoked Beef Wellington, Port and Red Wine Baby Beetroot, Truffle Jus, Pea and Mashed Potato 

Roast Chicken Chivry, Peas, Mushroom and Broad Beans casserole, Wild Mushroom and Root Vegetable Egg Cocotte

Poached Salmon Bellevue, served with Egg Mayonnaise and Crayfish Tails 

Fillets of Lemon Sole Waleska, Lobster Glazed Sauce

I went for the saddle of lamb with roast potatoes and vegetables, which I thoroughly enjoyed. And yet again, I felt that I could have picked anything from this menu and it would have tasted just as good.

Celebrating The Queen's 90th Birthday at Corinthia Hotel London

And as for pudding, well …

Nougat Parfait, Candied Fruits and Roasted Nuts, Red Fruits Coulis

Ginger and Milk Chocolate Tart, Caramelised Walnuts, Salted Caramel, Malt Ice-cream 

Chocolate and Orange Delice, Blood Orange Sorbet 

Blueberry and Violet Cheesecake, Lemon Jelly, Lemon crumb, Violet ice-cream 

Galatte des Reine, Puff Pastry, Frangipane, Raspberry Compote, Rose, Raspberry Sorbet 

Celebrating The Queen's 90th Birthday at Corinthia Hotel London

With the Terry O’Neil portrait of The Queen as part of the setting and the gorgeous selection of platters on offer, I had a truly wonderful morning; so much so I even made my first foray into Snapchat to document it. The surroundings were sumptuous as it is throughout Corinthia Hotel and as per my last visit I was yet again impressed by the food.Celebrating The Queen's 90th Birthday at Corinthia Hotel London

So if you are looking for a special way to indulge in The Queen’s public birthday – in a way that will also take you back to the time when HRH was born – then this could be the treat for you. Enjoy! 🙂

Corinthia Hotel London, Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2BD, UK

Lunch at Mango Tree

Thai food is something I have every week and so I was delighted to be invited to review Mango Tree in Belgravia, which I hadn’t visited before.

Lunch at Mango Tree, Belgravia

I brought one of my besties who lives in the area with me as a good excuse to catch up. As it turns out, he’d been here a few times but over time had stop coming here. So I was intrigued to find out what he thought about the food too.

Lunch at Mango Tree Belgravia

B started lunch with a non-alcoholic cocktail – unfortunately, the name completely escapes me right now …

Lunch at Mango Tree, Belgravia

… while I had the Mango Tree Fizz which is a Champagne cocktail with amaretto and fresh mango juice.

Lunch at Mango Tree, Belgravia

For starter, B and I ordered the Mango Tree Seafood Platter which included fresh king prawns in spicy tom yum sauce, grilled king scallop with garlic butter sauce, soft-shell crab tempura and mixed seafood satay.

Lunch at Mango Tree Belgravia

We also had the Tom Yum soup but admittedly I didn’t have too much of mine because I found it too hot. B had a lot more of his though.

Lunch at Mango Tree Belgravia

For main I decided on the Gang Phed Ped Yang Pon La Mai red curry with roasted duck, grape, pineapple and cherry tomatoes, served in a pineapple bowl which I really enjoyed. 

Lunch at Mango Tree Belgravia

B had the Pad Thai Goong Yai with the most amazing king prawn, which I had to try.

Lunch at Mango Tree Belgravia

And of course there were some vegetables.

Lunch at Mango Tree Belgravia

I really didn’t have much room for dessert but I was persuaded to share a taster of Mango Tree’s key puddings and I’m so glad I gave in. I loved the crême brûlée though I was a little unsure of the sticky rice which I normally love.

Lunch at Mango Tree Belgravia

Overall it was a wonderfully indulgent lunch, so much so we were the last to leave. And as the lunchtime crowd headed back to their desks and I dashed back to mine, I did wonder why B had left it so long. I’m not sure what other Thai restaurants are around Victoria but this one was perfectly fine – and as I found out, B enjoyed it too. 🙂

Mango Tree, 46 Grosvenor Place, Belgravia, SW1X 7EQ

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