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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Weekend Away: A French Vineyard

Last weekend, my family went en masse to Creon, a small village in France in the wine region of Bordeaux. The occasion? My lovely Dad’s 60th Birthday. 

My Dad knows a thing or two about wine and so we stayed in a beautiful French farmhouse, on a vineyard owned by Chateaux Bauduc. Their wine makes it on the menus of Gordon Ramsey and Rick Stein.

My Dad

Beautiful French shutters

I stayed up way too late the night before our early flight with my sister making a birthday banner, but it was well worth it.

Chateau Bauduc's red

I love a glass of wine and have recently got much more into it. So it was brilliant when owner Gavin Quinney offered to give us a lesson in the different stages of fermentation. We began with a sauvignon blanc in its final stage, which tasted just like it should, but it was cloudy, right down to wines that were practically just grape juice.

The fermenting vats of wine vats 

Barrels of wine

The vineyard

We booked on a whim, knowing that the French October weather is hit and miss, but unbelievably, it was sunny and hot all weekend. It was an odd feeling seeing the autumnal leaves falling off the trees whilst dangling my toes in the pool.

Me and my sister Jess
We managed to tear ourselves away from the pool for a game of boules and the rest of the time was spent relaxing, eating amazing food and drinking delicious wine – my kind of weekend.

Ollie getting the fire for the BBQ going

Charcuterie board

A beautiful rusty old Citron van, where they stored the fire wood we used for our BBQs.

Me attempting to bowl

Beers for boules

On Saturday night, we wandered to the centre of the village and ate in La Table, which has a fairy lit garden and a steak to dies for. If you're in a wine region, it's always worth asking if the local restaurants allow you to BYOB and pay corkage, which is what we did here.

I didn't realise how many photographs I took, so sorry if it's an image overload, but I can't recommend this region enough if you're after a bit of peace and quiet and good food and wine.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Travel: Glasgow

Now for the second leg of the Scottish trip: Glasgow. The edgier, some say cooler Scottish city, saw huge improvements in the wake of The Commonwealth Games. It's fair to say, with a thriving creative community who are dedicated to making the city the best it can be, Glasgow will just keep on getting better. 

Glasgow Commonwealth Mural

I was visiting my best friend from uni, Lisa. She's a lady who loves her food and cares about her coffee so we ate and drank our way through her favourite spots.

1. Pena

Me photographing my favourite sign

A lovely cup of coffee and a toastie for £4? Yes please. Pena is fairly new on the Glasgow scene, but it's chipboard interior and faux grass exterior give it a fun makeshift feel. The owner lives in Japan, and brought back the paper lanterns that hang from the ceiling, giving the place the air of a cafe you might stumble upon whilst travelling. The designer in me couldn't get enough of the wooden sign and menu, with  its laser cut black letters and shapes.

Pena's incredible sign

Japanese lanterns give the space a travelling feel

Lisa and Ollie

2. Ashton Lane

We walked off the toastie through Merchant City: a cobbled pretty street lined with black beamed white cottagey style buildings. Come dark, it's lit with hundreds of fairy lights.

Ashton Lane

A lovely traditional looking cinema, Ashton Lane

On past Hanoi bike shop, a nice little cafe that was the subject of Beyonce's Instagram pic when she last visited.

Cafe Zique

We stopped for a mid morning snack and coffee in Cafe Zique. It's lined in beautiful wooden panels, making it feel cosy and the science room stools and metal zinc long tables keep it contemporary and cool. 

While we watched the chefs and bakers gear up for lunch through the open plan kitchen, our creamy coffee and Portugese custard cake was brought on a wooden slab. Ollie had a salmon 'piece' (the Scottish word for sandwich), which was sliced from a giant one meter wide one, made daily.

custard cake and coffee

The salmon piece


Drygate's sunny deck

Situated in a former box factory in Glasgow's east end we were lucky enough to spend a rare sunny afternoons sampling Drygate's craft beer on the sun-trap terrace outside. Glasgow based design studio, D8 branded the space and I love the Glasgow School of Art student's illustrations on the beer labels.
Drygate's patterned staircase

Chalk board tables and menu

The best beers - Beavertown 

After a few beers, the hunger pangs kicked in and we ordered perfectly crispy, beer battered cod and chips. The dinky copper pots of homemade mushy peas and tartare sauce were a lovely little touch.

Perfect Fish & Chips

Mandatory trendy bikes line the railings 


Ox and Finch

For our last night, we dined in one of Glasgow's newest eateries: Ox and Finch. Trendy small plates and a low lit cosy boothes, with a strong industrial stamp on the interior side - we chatted and ate for hours. Food hightlights were the barrata mozzerella and onglet steak. Book in advance for this popular place.


Born & Bred city maps - Lisa Henderson

Have a look at Lisa's lovely design website here. I love her Born & Bred screen printed city maps(pictured above), which typographically show the best of what her favourite cities have to offer.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Restaurant: The Palomar, Soho

Beautiful business cards (photo from thepalomar.co.uk)

Swap the warm beer cans for a Sumac Tree cocktail and the one hour queue for a stool at the bar to watch the chefs at Palomar - Soho’s new modern Jerusalem restaurant - dance to tunes and the waiting staff down shots and you could be fooled into thinking you’re in the queue for a club night.

Perhaps that’s not such a surprise considering the restaurant is an unorthodox collaboration between sibling ex-owners of the pumping club, The End, (including Layo from the DJ duo Layo and Bushwacka) and chefs from Machneyuda, a thoroughly modern Israeli restaurant with roots in Jerusalem.

The menu: For those who want to kick back (photo from thepalomar.co.uk)

Clinging onto the last days of summer, we ordered a bottle of rose, a similar colour to the handsome menu, which had a Palm Springs feel and read “for those who want to kick back” and that, we did.

The baked Yemeni bread (photo from thepalomar.co.uk)

After the wait, we are hungry. We swiftly ordered The Daily Six: small bowls filled with aubergine, hearty beany dishes and more delicate pastes and dips including home made tahini but the baked Yemeni brioche stole the starter show, banged out of its tin and onto our board with lots of chef drama.

The raw bar (photo from thepalomar.co.uk)

Up next was chicken cooked in buttermilk. The meat; silky and zinged up with ingredient of the moment: freekeh. The onglet was uncharacteristically tender,
brightened up with a yolky fried egg. We ordered a Spring salad from the raw bar and watched the chef toss the strips of kohlrabi, asparagus and fresh fennel in a lemony pestoy vinegrette. The citrus and crunch cut through the meat and was a must order, simply delicious.

The bar sand kitchen (photo from thepalomar.co.uk)

More tunes and moves from the chefs and another round of shots. This time a few eager diners were invited to join in with a vibrant red watermelon concoction.

Places like Palomar are rare in London, where the staff seem have just as much fun as the diners. I left feeling happy, tipsy, and that I had been for a whole lot more than a feed.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Travel: Edinburgh and The Fringe Festival

Last weekend, I went to Scotland for bank holiday. Two days in Edinburgh, home to the bustling Fringe Festival and two days in Glasgow. Both so different and both absolutely amazing. First up, the Captial...

Edinburgh Castle

The Fringe Festival played its last 2014 show last Monday but the beautiful Scottish capital has so much to see, and when the sun completely disappears, Edinburgh's sights, restaurants and galleries are perfect for a winter weekend away. 

An Edinburgh shop front

It was the first time I had been back since studying Graphic Design at Edinburgh College of Art. I remember how sad I was to leave and vowed to make a trip back every year. Then post student life got in the way and I broke that promise. I cannot begin to explain how excited I was for my reunion with the city that was once my home.

Oh yes!
I took Ollie, who's an Edinburgh novice and we travelled first class for free because I had a whole load of East Coast reward points saved up. This meant constant snacks and gratis gin and tonics - what a good start to the trip!

Hot Dub Time Machine

We only booked a couple of months ago, so affordable accommodation was scarce. One of the things I loved most about living in Edinburgh was the tenement flats', high ceilings and huge rooms so I was slightly dubious about staying in an Air BnB room in the new Quartermile development. Here's the link - and I don't think the pictures don't do the room justice!

I needn't have worried. The flat was a stones throw from Bristo Square, where most of the Fringe action is, and the room had great views of the meadows (Edinburgh's largest green space), and to be honest, we spent hardly any time there anyway.

The very funny James Acaster

As it was the first time I was going back since being a student, and it was Ollie's first visit, I wanted the trip to be about the city just as much as the Fringe so a wander through the landmarks was essential. The castle, The Grassmarket and The New town were all on our list. For this reason, we only booked the brilliantly fun Hot Dub Time Machine, a club night, where you dance to a song for every year starting from 1954. We also nabbed last minute tickets to the sell out hilarious James Acaster and I'll be booking tickets for the London stop on his upcoming UK tour. 

Underbelly Fun

We met up with friends on Friday night and went to the Comedy All Stars where the hilarious Stephen K Amos had us in stitches. 

Where to Eat

Amazing Eggs Royale in Urban Angel

Breakfast - Urban Angel
Recommended by a friend, Urban Angel has got to be up there with one of the best breakfasts I have ever had. With a menu full of classics, and a nod to ingredient with a Scottish provenance, I ordered the eggs royale with Aberdeen smoked salmon to help cure the Hot Dub hangover and the carrot, orange and ginger juice gave me a much needed restorative health kick. We sat outside and basked in the rare Edinburgh sun. Heaven.
121 Hanover Street

Toast is another great option on the other side of town in Marchmont for breakfast. They homemake their own baked beans and the cooked breakfast little extras like sweet corn fritters are great.
146 Marchmont Rd

Lunch - The Outsider
The daily changing lunch menu is an absolute steal and includes local seasonal treats such as rabbit, crab linguini and makeral. Don't miss the garlic fries. Lunch runs until 5pm.
15 George IV Bridge

Dinner - Mother India
This authentic Southern Indian restaurant does 'tapas style' curries, which just means smaller portions, so you can try more. That's my kind of place. My favourites are the dry okra and butter chicken mopped up with a garlic naan.
3-5 Infirmary Street

We tried to book a few new places including Timberyard and Blackfriars, but they were completely fully booked. Next time!


We wandered over to Stockbridge, a lesser known side to the city to tourists. It's seriously beautiful, with wide streets lined with grand houses, dispersed with lots of little independent shops. There's even a stretch of canal to walk past before popping into Hectors, a pub which won points for an amazing bloody mary and Beavertown on the beer list. 
47-49 Deanhaugh St


We also spent a couple of days in Glasgow so check back soon for my write up...

Stockbridge grey cat

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