Summer-time Supper club @ Fabulous698B

It’s Supper time…..!

I don’t know about you, but the idea of being invited into someones home to dine with complete strangers does sounds a little on the extravagant side of things…

Well yes and no. You see, this craze is hardly old news, in fact, supper clubs have been happening since I first arrived in London many years ago and the opportunity of experiencing it first hand at a brunch club which was organised through a friend in Dalston about 4 years ago, was actually far better than I had anticipated.

When the lovely people at Tabl asked me to review a recommendation of theirs called the Fabulous698B, it was a big fat yes all the way from me.

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Maja Pauling & Guillaume Jounoe are the creative masterminds behind this adorable supper club and with a vision to eventually turn it into a full time restaurant, I don’t think they are far off reaching this goal. 

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The location of the ‘Summer time’ taster course was located in the heart of the city, in a funky little pop up restaurant called the Patio. Funnily enough it happened to be smack bang in the middle of a bowling green and being a saturday evening in Bank meant it was typically quiet (apart from a few getting boozy and deciding to roll around on it) . I really do appreciate randomness. 

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Maja was very welcoming and once everyone had taken their seats, she guided us through the menu for the evening and I was very eager to see what was in store for us. I bought my boyfriend along with me but the beauty about these types of meet ups is that you do have the option of coming on your own – its very social and normally everyone speaks about food, which we all know is the best topic of conversation!

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The table was decked out in gorgeous blooms which boded well with the summer theme of the evening. We were also greeted with a PIMMS cocktail, before being served the amuse bouche – beautifully presented duck and smoked salmon.

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Starting from the top and working our way down the lush-worthy menu, up first was the Watermelon seeds, fresh cheese and basil. The plate was laid with some of the most delicate ingredients including mini watermelons that tasted like cucumbers. It was almost like being back at the Fat Duck again and being so confused about how things tasted but looked actually looked the complete opposite of what we were eating…. It really is the peculiar feeling. 

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Next up was the line caught cod, peas, bean and lemon. I actually removed myself from the table to observe the plate preparation and to see just how much work goes into preparing so many dishes in the one go. Its rather fascinating as well as being exhausting to watch.

I think I will stick to reviewing thanks 🙂  

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The dish itself was an array of beautiful shades of green and reminding me off a leafy garden in the countryside. The fish, was cooked to perfection and very light on the stomach which is what we prefer to enjoy over the summer months! 

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The third dish was slightly heavier (but I promise was as equally delicious) and consisted of Spring lamb, ratatouille, delectable juicy tomatoes and with a sprinkling of baby mint leaf. Honestly, whatever they put in that sauce was next level. Please don’t ever amend, adjust, nothing!!  Absolute perfection paired with the lamb 🙂

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And last but not least (and the most exciting part of every dinner) the more than 

Cherry bakewell tart!

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For me it was more like a theatrical performance! After sitting around and letting the food go down, the suspense was driving me crazy but then, all of a sudden the music came on and out came the trolley of goodies. I knew at that point, we were in for a real treat!

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The table was covered head to toe with whipped cream, an assortment of berries, burnt caramel, peaches, almond sponge cake, chocolate mousse, teacups filled with PIMMS, dazzling sparklers and the rest that I can barely remember due to being so wrapped up in the moment!

It was all rather dramatic and overwhelming… but in a good way of course.

 

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So there you go. Another awesome supper club to tick off the list (and a fabulous one at that!) To put into a few simple words, I would say its very stupendous, honest fun, with quality elements and so much individuality. I really could go on for days here otherwise!

ALSO, its BYO with no corkage fee – now you can’t argue with that. 

For more info and upcoming events you can check out their Facebook page – 

*** www.facebook.com/fabulous698b/ *** 

Smashing work guys! 

Macellaio RC – bringing the finest of steaks to SW7

When I was asked if I wanted to review this quality Italian steakhouse and butchery on Old Brompton Road, it was hard to hold me back from typing the reply so speedily with a big fat YES PLEASE.

Although I hardly find myself eating a lot of red meat these days, I am still a little fussy when it comes to certain cuts and I will always appreciate a mean looking steak when I see one.

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Macelliao – located in swanky South Kensington and only an arms length from the station is absolute must to visit if you adore your steak…..

For me, the first sign of a decent steak restaurant is when they bring you that raw, almost intimidating piece of clean-cut steak on a wooden meat board. Some may find this on the gross side but I believe its just as important to check out what you’re eating before its served, almost being courteous if you get what I mean here. 

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And not to make it too obvious that its a butchery, but when you walk in through the door, there are a noticeable amount of large bits of meat just casually hanging in the window side by side… oh and a hot red leather couch. Which of course you will need to sit and pose for at least one pic at some point of the evening….

 

It’s not very often, you walk into a restaurant and see silver spoons being used as coat hooks, meat cleavers on the restroom doors and newspapers as menus! Did I tell you how much I dig this place? Almost as much as watching the waitstaff come over to your table and digging a rather large steak knife into it.

Standard procedure I’m told. 

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And what about the wine? Well that’s just as precise as the meat and so you can imagine, a very extensive list to choose from. Luckily we had knowledgeable waiters who can pick for you, and that for me means I can sit back and enjoy the starters without getting in a pickle over which glass I would like to sample first. 

It really is a hard life. 

 

So starting with a couple of dishes that were highly recommended to us were (in order by preference)

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Steak tartare. Who honestly hasn’t given this one ago? If you haven’t, I cant possibly tell you what you are missing out on and this my friends was totally unmissable. Made with good old capers, onions, tabasco, pepper, brandy, mustard and gherkins etc etc BANG ON BABY! 

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The Fegato – in other words, Fassona liver with butter, sage, roasted onion puree was blissfully tender, juicy and paired well with the crusty pieces of bread. 

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The lamb roast was the last of the starter items and this was stuff with sweet peppers, in a pool of bagna cauda foam. I wasn’t as fussed on this dish but never the less it was still nice to try it. 

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Going back to the wines, I had a lighter and slightly fruitier red by Elena Walch – Kalterersee. In all fairness it was matched well with the flavours of the food. 

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Next came out the monstrous serving of Fiorentina del Macellaio. This is the T-bone steak I was speaking about earlier, which is aged around 25 days, cooked with rock salt and served on the bone. Nothing flashy to look at but I tell you, it was an absolute ripper! We had asked for it to be cooked medium to raw which is preferable for the right amount of tenderness and gorgeous flavours.

Adding to this we had a bowl of mixed salad and broccoli steams with fresh chilli. 

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The wine that was drunken on this glorious course was called Donnas – Vallee d’aoste 2013. This was definitely a more full bodied wine and again, between the two was a very harmonious relationship. 🙂 

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Onto dessert and don’t you just love it when they order for you and don’t tell you until just before they arrive to your table?! I mean, whose to know better then the people that work there? Some may think this is a little too much but for me I think its genius and it shows how much the staff know about their products. Plus it makes it so much more interesting. Don’t you think?

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Firstly we had the Bianco al basilico, croccante al caramello. The best way to describe this would be the shape of a panacotta but far better in taste, very milky and soft with a crisp burnt caramel around the outside. What makes it just that little bit unusual, is the basil on top. Sounds odd but I’m not even kidding, this actually worked in terms of the combination of flavours. 

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And last but not least the Latte dolce fritto. Its almost like eating a donut with a thick creamy based centre….and to top it all off there was even a few of them filled with warm, rich chocolate nutella. I think I could have put away a good handful of those bad boys. Easily.

One word -Bellissima! 

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The evening was finished off with a comforting pot of fresh mint tea, while trying to work out how much meat I had just eaten in one sitting. Hey, it has to be done! 

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Macellaio is an absolute delight. A special place, with a buzzing vibe, ballsy, straight up service with some of the best red meat I have had the pleasure of tasting. A big thanks to the team and Roberto for making my night an unforgettable one and of course, my foodie partner in crime, Brucine from Citylicious. 

Address:   84 Old Brompton Rd, London SW7 3LQ

The Admirable Algarve

 

Portugal has always been one of those places I often thought about, and even spoke about; but never actually got around to visiting…..

Until now!

 

I was really indecisive about where to go and what appealed to me the most and after a few weeks of driving myself around the bend, it was decided, that Lagos in the Algarve was a winner. This is a particular interesting location because a lot of people still aren’t that familiar with it, where in fact its known as a top holiday destination to visit throughout the European summer months.

As we had booked the trip at the start of May, this is generally classed as being in the off peak season which means ridiculously cheap prices from the accommodation, right down to the food and wine.

Speaking of accommodation, I am one for really shopping around online, while trying to veer away from the standard hotel stay. I much prefer to use Airbnb for the true cultural experience or booking.com which always has never let me down with some pretty amazing deals. 

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We ended up booking Villas D. Dinis who happen to own a number of luxurious villas dotted around Lagos and including an offsite property which had that ‘exclusive’ feel about it. Our villa was about 2 mins drive from the main office and also where they had breakfast set up each morning. It sounds like an unusual set up, but I quite liked the idea of being away from the other guests and being able to enjoy the quieter surroundings.

By the way, the breakfast I have to say, was completely amazing. I don’t think I’ve seen a selection like it before and even included bubbles for a cheeky bucks fizz. This girl was in heaven every morning 🙂

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The property, consisted of three levels, with modern features and an outdoor pool that was unfortunately a little too cold to dive into, however I loved how private it was with high fences and gated with a security coded pad. (also plenty of space for car parking)

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To get to Lagos, you need to fly into Faro international airport and it will take you about an hour by car or one hour and thirty minutes by train. Also be aware that the A22 highway is a toll road but this is far quicker if you are in a hurry and seeing as though we had got a later flight in, I preferred this option.  

If you do happen to have some extra time on on your hands, then the N25 would be a more pleasant option as it is far more scenic. 

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The weather for the time of year was still a little unstable. A lot of thunderstorms which followed by some heavy downpours but generally during the day, the sun shone and with temps around the 22 degree mark which was acceptable when you are trekking around those steep hills! 

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So Lagos is very hilly. With miles of cliffs and plenty of golden pristine beaches to swim at and because we were in such a great location, we had the option of walking to each (and there were dozens!) My favourite would have to be Praia do Camilo for some captivating views. There were 200 steps down to the water, so decided to take a rain check, while taking a few snaps and admiring the aqua blue water. I also loved Praia Dona Ana, which is one of the most popular swimming spots in Lagos and a little easier to get to 🙂 

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The other thing I really loved about Lagos, was the unusual architecture of the old town. The first time we decided to drive through it and oh my gawd, the streets were insanely narrow as well as being mega steep and fully cobbled, you almost feel like you were going to drive through someones house and end up in their living room. 

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It was also unusually quiet and this was noticeable after going back in later on to have some dinner.  Im guessing that the streets normally don’t come alive until at least after midday.

Speaking of dinner and food, there are plenty of hidden gems around the city and we had the chance of experiencing a few standout restaurants whilst we were there. 

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This included Restaurante Dos Artistas which is not quite Michelin star, but really should be. Set in a beautiful colonial styled dining room, it screams fine dining with its impeccable service, quality dishes and beautiful wines.  I also had the chance to try a 10 year aged Port, aka a Portuguese fortified wine. Its a very strong and typically sweet taste and very similar to that of a dessert wine which is not something I would desire to have on any occasion, but when in Portugal, one must at least give it a try! 

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Another memorable restaurant in the Old Town was called Dom Vinho which we stumbled across, while casually strolling around one evening. The waiter we had was fantastic and if I could remember his name, I would happily give him a shout out right now! Every dish he recommended on the menu was perfect including the Murganheira champagne (from Portugal of course) which made the night just that little more special. Even better, was the fact that a jazz band had started to play across the street so we had live entertainment as an added bonus. 

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If you are looking for something a little healthy, I can suggest a great juice bar called Bora Cafe. Very hard to get a table but well worth the wait. 

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As far as exploring the Algrave is concerned, we did manage to find a couple of secluded spots to stop off at and admire the incredible views of the coastline. Pria Do Beliche which is about 30 mins from central lagos, is great for surfing (as Nick discovered after walking down a million steps) and is also on the way to Sagres, a small town on the South west tip of the Algarve. I didn’t find there was a lot to do here, and I guess with it being the time of year, only very few businesses were actually open. We did manage to stop off for a bite to eat but it was more for just a look around while breathing in a good dose of lovely sea air. 

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On the other side of Lagos, there is another larger sized town called Portimao which takes about 40 minutes by car and has slightly more to do so you’d probably need most of the day if you plan to walk around it and perhaps have a bite to eat. Funnily enough, we ended up coming back here twice. The first time, we took a walk around, then ended up across the other side at a seaside village called Ferragudo, before heading straight towards a hidden beach bar called Kalu, which was tucked inside the rock face and surrounded by aloe vera plants! We decided it was essential to grab a burger and a glass of rose to rehydrate and my word those burgers were insanely big and totally scrumptious. I was pretty stoked to have come across such a cool spot, so much so that I was almost tempted to laze about there all day…. 

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So I mentioned earlier that we ended up visiting the area twice and this time we had been recommended to try out an even better beach bar called NoSolo Agua Beach Club. Situated right on the port, and equipped with spectacular ocean views, blazing sunshine and unbelievable good seafood, you couldn’t have asked for much more – This place was massive and fully decked out. It almost reminded me of Nikki Beach with its similar decor, daybeds and lagoon style pool. It was just a real shame that we had saved this to the very last minute and before we had to head back to the airport, otherwise I couldn’t have seen myself moving from my chair for the rest of the day.. or week in fact! 

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This definitely has to be one of the most chilled, low key holidays I have had in a very long time and I couldn’t recommend it enough, especially if you love your beaches, hot weather and fresh seafood.

 

I really fell in love with the Algarve’s natural beauty and as a whole, felt a good vibe about the place.

Obrigada Portugal!!

Burgers that make you Shake Rattle & Roll

Okay, so you wouldn’t exactly strike me as being a burger obsessed kind of girl and you’re right, it is not something I eat on a daily basis. As you know, I love all types of food, from every different nation and I’ve learnt to appreciate the outstanding and eliminate the absolute rubbish.

Im a girl who knows what I want.

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In saying that, I do know a good burger when I see one 🙂

We all know when it comes to the meaty patty and bun that its not all about how high they are stacked. It all comes down to taste and that unique, memorable flavour. In the past few years ive seen how competitive its gotten, the burger craze they call it, and I guess you’d be crazy not to get involved, as there is plenty of creative, munch worthy burgers on offering around the capital and across the globe.

 

When I was asked to come and review the ‘Cheddarstack’ burger from the popular American restaurant chain, I had to jump on board and find out just why, everyone was raving so highly about it.

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The Shake Shack currently have 3 locations operating in London. The longest standing in Covent Garden, which guaranteed, always has a massive queue around the corner (always a good sign!). On this occasion I visited the New Oxford Street venue and I believe this is one of their latest. Its surprisingly bigger than what I had imagined, with wooden text-tiled walls and stone pillars, it also displays the distinctive green burger logo, large menu board and open kitchen for the public to view.

Ordering is easy peasy, you wait in line, order to your preferences, then you’re given a buzzer type remote that will let off some vibrations as and when your food is ready. As well as the burger, we were given the crinkly fries (Nick had his with a heavy drizzling of melting cheese) and a drink of choice. I was recommended the peach lemonade which is definitely what I would call a ‘Steph’ kind of drink. 

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The ‘Cheddarstack’ burger is filled with 100% all-natural Aberdeen Angus beef topped with double British free range Wiltshire cured smoked bacon and Shack cheddar cheese sauce. It was also featured at the Taste of London festival and I can see will be a hit for all those meat eating lovers out there.

I would normally stick to a boring hamburger with a bit of lettuce and gherkin but this I didn’t mind at all. It actually does have some decent flavours going on, and of course that sweet fluffy tasting bun which in my opinion, can make or break a burger.

True story.

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We were also lucky enough to be given a very self indulgent dessert, which I was eyeing off before I had even seen anything else on the menu. But cut me some slack here because anyone in their right mind would be stupid if they didn’t fall for the words – chocolate custard, St John Bakery, hazelnut brownie with peanut butter sauce and banana! (quite a mouthful!)

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A big thumbs up to the Shake Shack for making me feel welcomed into your restaurant. Quality food, thats no fuss, affordable and definitely as good as everyone claims it to be – that I can vouch for now! 

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www.shakeshack.com 

Can’t get enough of the Taste of London

Well, we all know how much I went on and on about last years successful event. A combination of mega amazing food, open air park surroundings, blissful music and enough cocktails to keep you content for a lifetime……

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Firstly, just to get this one small moan out of the way – I would like to say how un-impressed I was by the gloomy, rainy weather. It would have been a nice touch having some rays of sunshine peering through those clouds but no, that would have been far too much to ask wouldn’t it. 🙂

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Anyway, since thats off my chest, we should move on to the more important stuff, like champagne and salted caramel Oreo cakes and…

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(Munching our way around)

For those who haven’t experienced the Taste of London, then there’s clearly something not right with you.

Kidding!

But really, after the many years it already has under its belt, it really has become one of the most popular food festivals in the UK and lets hope its still going strong in the many more years to come.

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Its always an overwhelming feeling when you walk into a festival with so much going on. I never know which way to turn or where to start. It can almost be a little tortuous if you get what I mean here?

I decided to bring my boyfriend along, who isn’t quite as mad about food as I am, or more to the point doesn’t understand why I worship it so much, but heres the thing, food isn’t just about eating it. No no; it actually is a very social part of life. It brings people together and makes us feel good inside.

AMEN to that.

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It was great to see a lot of vendors that had returned from the year before, in particular my friends at La di da sweet treats (after spending so much time trying to locate them!) and to try out all their new delicious treats on offer. I cant say I was left disappointed with the explosion of sweetness or variety. It was a difficult decision to choose a favourite!

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Another one I couldn’t take my eyes off of while walking past was Chase distillery. They happened to be serving up some pretty hypnotic gin based cocktails so one just had to try their rhubard number.

Absolutely smashing darlings!

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After almost forgetting about eating (hello what are we here for!), we immediately made a dash out of patch of rain and onto a couple of the restaurant tents that were on my list to try.

Although it would have been great to have a bash at everything, its just not possible with all the liquid consumption on top of it. Sigh. 

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Champor, champor – my choice was the soft shell crab taco with chilli. I am a big fan of the soft shell crab at the moment. So much so that i’ve found myself ordering from dozens of restaurants on a number of occasions.  I liked the fact that this dish was slightly different with the taco combo, it was definitely a dish worth having a taste. And of course, packed with loads of chilli flavour.

Thats what im talking about!

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Bubbledogs – Ahh I just adore this restaurant. If you haven’t been, please do. Its basically champagne and hotdogs and theres always a line up to get in there, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is. (you’ve been warned)

I decided to have the Horny devils which were sweetcorn fritter balls filled with jalepenos and cheddar cheese. I think I may have scoffed these in about 1 minute. That good.

Nick had the mini hotdog which would have been my second choice, seeing that hotdogs are their speciality 🙂

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Heddon Street Kitchen – absolutely loved the ice cream bar idea they had displayed with delightful looking sweets. And even though it was a simple ice cream kind of dessert, it was great to be in control by sprinkling your own toppings, while going a little overboard, just like you did when you were a kid. 

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Typing room – Still a firm favourite of mine, hands down. I was very enthusiastic to see what they had cooking and being on the Thursday it was the only day they were showcasing throughout the festival, so I counted myself pretty lucky in that regard.

As it was nearing to the end of the day, I was starting to struggle, but typically with my eyes being bigger than my belly, I was set on the BBQ lamb rump with tomato and green olive, which was definitely not a let down. The tomatoes were just gorgeous and the meat, juicy and tender.  

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After a few hours of being greedy guttsers, it was time for a rest, while indulging in a refreshing London Dry gin & tonic to finish off the evening. Truth by told, its actually quite exhausting eating and drinking for hours on end and especially after being on your feet for most of the day……. BUT, you know I wouldn’t have it any other way! 

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Thanks to the Taste of London for letting me cover the event this year. For those who missed out on this one, I would highly recommend the Festive Edition being held at Tobacco Dock in November. Im already looking forward to this (without getting too ahead of myself here – lets get summer over with first!). 

Pls note – dishes range from £3-10 each and you can pay by contact-less card or cash. 

Swingers Golf… it’s not what you think!

Theres a new craze hitting London! One word – GOLF  

Well ‘putting’ to be precise, or crazy golf as they like to refer to in the UK.

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Anyway, after the launch of Junk Yard Golf in Shoreditch, who would have thought that hitting a ball around some fake grass in the middle of the city, would become so popular. 

Well it happened. 

Thanks to the lovely guys at Venue Search London, I was lucky enough to check out this place only a week after opening and im pretty sure the word was already spreading thick and fast, that you need to get yourself down here for a few after work swings.  

Also joining me was fellow Blogger Mina from Kings Road Rocks who was a virgin to crazy golf and well up for giving it a crack. 

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The venue itself is of a decent size and is tastefully decked out. It features two bespoke 9 hole courses – just to mix things up a little. Two levels, which includes an area to hire out for parties or events, a gin and fairway bar to keep the drinks flowing and impressively, some well known eateries such as those delicious burgers from Patty and bun, Pizza Pilgrams and kick ass kebabs from the guys at Le Bab. Par-fect. 

 

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Once we had taken a sneaky peak around the place, we had the opportunity  to tuck in and try out some attention grabbing pizzas as well as sipping on champagne cocktails – cant say no to that one! 

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Being a huge fan of music, I was equally impressed with funky house tracks being played by the DJ. In fact, I almost felt like I was in a club which really lifted the atmosphere as the night drifted on….. 

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After stuffing our faces, it was time was things to get a little more serious.. meaning taking part in a little competition around one of the courses called Lighthouse. I may have to mention that I used to play golf as a young pup and putting was, what I like to call, my speciality…. but hey who cares, its all for a bit of a laugh isn’t it! 

Depending on the time of day, you may find yourself in a small queue to start off but that just means that you get to fit in more quality drinking time; while you wait. I likey like. 

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You’ll then be handed a putter, golf ball and a score card to keep track of who is winning and who is loosing.

Only kidding ya. Im all about fair play here 🙂

If you’ve never attempted anything like this before, it does take a bit of getting used to, in particular the certain angles and how much power you need to put into your swing. Its all about precision here folks.

Oh and did I mention that they have dedicated waiters coming around on Ipad looking devices to take your drinks orders? Just in case you get thirsty after all that concentration. Brilliant idea and how caring! 

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So I guess you are wondering who won in the end? Well I don’t want to brag here… but yes it was me and seriously, so much fun I could have done it all over again 🙂

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I really want to thank Ria Thomas from Venue Search London for giving me the opportunity to try Swingers out. I would most certainly come back here again and perhaps next time with a bunch of friends over the weekend for a right giggle. It is a perfect spot for after work drinkies or a special birthday shindig and in fact, if you are looking to book a group of you for work or even for yourself you can contact Ria who would be more than happy to help you out. 

 

T: 0207 870 9305

M: 07894054053

E: ria@venuesearchlondon.com

W: www.venuesearchlondon.com

Swingers Golf for more info: www.singersldn.com

 

Its safe to say, that everything was on ‘PAR’ 

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Pharmacy2 – Food prescribed well!

Anything that involves an artist with an essentrical collection of artwork and includes working along side a reputable London chef, most certainly grabs my attention on any given day of the week! 

From that, I will introduce to you Pharmacy2. A creation by the talented Mr Hirst himself, is situated at his recently opened Newport Street Gallery in Lambeth and welcomes visitors to the exhibition during the day. Adding to that, a collaboration with leading London chef, Mark Hix whose role is to oversee the menu and you’ve got one hell of a partnership. 

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My first impressions of this whacky pill-themed restaurant, was the close attention to detail and not knowing where to look first! 

Its colouful, crazy decor is covered wall to wall in well, pills…and more pills. This includes the wall paper, the bar stools and not to mention, the dinner plates and menus. After I had been seated and was waiting for my other guests to arrive, I couldn’t help but notice the rather large glass cabinet to my right, which was filled with all sorts of hospital paraphernalia. It was definitely worth a closer look just to see what weird and wonderful gadgets he had displayed in there, half of which I couldn’t tell you what they were! 

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The menu serves up a wide selection of British and European classics which is heavily reflected on Hix and Hirst’s passion for quality and fresh ingredients. There is a wide range of smaller plates to share, so we decided that we would order a few of these so we got a good feel for the menu. 

To start with we went a little naughty with the pork crackling and brambly apple sauce – always goes down so satisfyingly well. 

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The Glenarm Estate steak tartare with that goey centre egg yolk – I always have to remind myself what I am eating here but if its made to the highest of qualities (in this case thats a yes) then I can enjoy the beautiful flavours without any doubts going on in my mind. 

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Next, I really wanted to have a go of the brik a l’oeuf de canard with rose harissa. I had no clue as to what this was and I was completely okay with that…..!

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I will tell you this much – its a thin crispy pastry which resembles that of a pancake, is delicately folded in half, golden on the outside, filled with a creamy egg yolk centre (again) and paired well with the spiciness of the harrisa. Not bad Mr Hix, not bad. 

Food is a journey and dishes out of your comfort zone should always be tried once!

Lastly on the starters, we indulged on the cuttlefish croquettes with wild garlic mayonnaise. I very much enjoyed every mouthful of these (straight in the gob). Its wonderful crispy texture on the outside, dipped in the flavoursome mayo was again, something I hadn’t tried before and would be happy to going forward. 

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Now onto the mains. Me being me and extra fussy when it comes to pasta, took a gamble and ordered the linguine with Portland crag and chilli. Perhaps it was the chilli that drew me to this dish (its easily done) or the fact that I do adore the combination of seafood and spaghetti. Either way, I was not left disappointed after discovering how fresh every ingredient in this dish was, even though I did go for the smaller sized option, it was just the right amount. 

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Other mains tasted included the buttermilk chicken with Wye valley asparagus salad which also looked tantalising appealing and listed from a range of other asparagus dishes – not something I have seen on a menu before! 

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Of course, regardless of how full we felt by the end of this feast, there was still room for a small dessert (which I swear was miniature in size!) And with my growing obsession of rhubard at the moment, I decided it was most appropriate to order the Yorkshire Rhu with saffron ice-cream. Who would have thought that these contrasting types of flavours would fit together so nicely. Like a glove as they say. 

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With the evening drawing to an end, it was all about enjoying the last sips of a lightly hopped ‘HIX’ blonde beer, while taking in last glances around the pretend drugstore and being distracted by the etched glass windows depicting DNA strands….

So. Friggin. Amazing.  

 

Service – Excellent, attentive and our waitress was really friendly through-out the service.

Atmosphere – Certainly buzzing and not over the top loud. Enough to still enjoy small chit chat. 

Food – Very impressed. Don’t let the creativity of this place out shine the menu. It really is up to the standard I had hoped for from HIX.  

Atrium Kitchen launch party – bringing a new kind of cool to Camden

A few weeks back, I was asked to attend the recent launch party of the hip new joint right in the heart of Camden – Atrium Kitchen

I must admit, I do have a bit of a soft spot for Camden, but being over the other side of town, means that I never have the time to explore the area as much as i’d really like to. 

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Known for its alternative, free spirit vibe, Camden also has a number of fantastic foodie spots worth checking out, as well as plenty of street markets to keep you occupied on a sunny Sunday afternoon. 

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As far as location is concerned, the Atrium Kitchen is perfectly placed in the middle of the Stables market.

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You are greeted by a long pathway of steps leading up to the front entrance, guiding you to a wide open space of natural light, lush green hanging plants and a canvas made ceiling. 

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Being a launch party and all, it would have been rude to pass up on one or two drinkies, even if you were supposed to be detoxing for the week (whoops!) but it seemed a little to difficult to say no to a French Martini, sitting all alone on that tray 🙂

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A considerable amount of mouthwatering canapés were being dished out amongst the floor through out the evening and to keep people like me feed and happy (as its never a good idea to drink on an empty stomach!)

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As the drinks were being poured, so were the people coming through the door and very much to my surprise, were quite a number of celebs in attendance and schmoozing roaming around the room. Im ashamed to say that i’d only heard of one of them – Samantha Fox, who was dressed rather vivaciously in a red playsuit. 

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There was plenty of live entertainment to keep the atmosphere at bay, with saxophone and piano performances and later on in the evening, a special live set from British duo, Phats and Small. If you can remember them from about 17 years ago, they had a hit song called ‘Turn Around’ which features singer Ben Ofoedu. This track is pure cheese on toast but still manages to get everyone up rocking on the dance floor.

Exactly that, in this case and I have video evidence as proof! 

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The Atrium Kitchen is definitely a cool, new hot spot to hit Camden. Offering an all-day, daily changing menu, specials and even event space for hiring out. 

So pop along if you’re in the neighbourhood – I hear they are all a friendly bunch. 

 

Location details:       The Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, Chalk Farm Rd, NW18AH
Phone:                  020 3376 9998

A whirlwind week in London with the familia!

Its always an exciting time when you have people to visit from around the world and when its someone very close to you, like your Mama, its really time to pull out all the stops and make it an experience in London worth remembering for them. My mum and her partner Jason were in town for the week so I wanted to make sure they got to see the best the city has to offer without sticking to a tight pressured schedule (cause nobody wants that on their holiday).

Playing host to family and friends its always a lot of fun, as I find it gets me to places I haven’t quite got around to checking out (yes there are still loads!) which tends to happen when you get stuck into the daily routine of ‘life’. 

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Oh and before I start to ramble on too much, I wanted to tell you about a standout Japanese restaurant I visited just a day before with my blogger pals – Angie Silver (Silverspoon London) and Ayushi (The Foodie Diaries)

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Called Sosharu, in other words ‘to socialise’ in Japanese. I thought it should get a special mention since it was a perfect way to kick off the week and being a Jason Atherton restaurant, I knew it was going to be a goodie.

There was a lot of food ordered, (in true blogger style) although mostly small plates to share between us, which I much prefer these days and to stop me from being such a greedy guts.

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Ayushi is vegetarian but me and Angie were happy to taste these dishes  as well (while trying to stick to being healthy!). Personally for me, I really adored the tuna, scallion Tobiko dish. Well presented, with a crunchy seaweed exterior, filled with rice, fresh tuna and small dollops of wasabi mayonnaise to give it that hint of spice. The platter of sashimi is also a treat if you love raw fish. Five different types in fact. Go hard.

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The decor of the restaurant is filled with wooden features, dark and moody with a modern twist. Downstairs, we sprung upon a wicked basement bar with the best neon sign I have seen in a while. (says the sake drinking lover!) I don’t think I expected such a trendy drinking space to be hidden away like that…Bonus!

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Final verdict = food is fantastic, service was superb but don’t come on a tight budget (mark my words though, the food does justify every penny)

 

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Right, back to my London adventures with the folks.

I really wanted to mix things up a little, so they were able to experience from a locals perspective, rather than the normal touristy activities, which don’t get me wrong I have no karms doing, I just believe its nice to explore the city with knowledge from a resident who knows the place like the back of their hand.

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East London, or Shoreditch, is somewhere I never really get the chance to visit very often and its a shame because it has so much uniqueness to it. Filled with street food markets, quirky bars and bursting with creativity , its one place you can let yourself go and know one will give two hoots about it!

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The Spitafield market – old and new, both are such brilliant places to find loads of cool designer clothes, jewellery, accessories, even down to cool threads for the bubbas. If you have a passion for food, then buckle up because this is the place for you.

I couldn’t walk past without ordering a sourdough donut from Crosstown Donuts. Filled with a creamy banana custard and topped with gooey salted caramel, lets just say it didn’t last very long in that paper bag! I also took Mum to the Bricklane food market which is an interesting experience. I find it always super crowded but I can totally see why. Every cuisine you can think of is under one roof and the smells are mind blowing. I kid you not, you will be in here for quite sometime 😉

I had the Vietnamese and being completely un-ladylike I sat on the footpath with the many hundreds of others frantically trying to find a decent spot to perch on. Im not sorry. 

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Unfortunately Dinerama was closed (disappointment like you wouldn’t believe!) which is another rad street market the East has on offer. There’s also the Backyard Market which is pretty similar to that of the Spitafields but still worth the wander. (especially when theres juicy coconut water involved)

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The afternoon was spent preparing a hearty BBQ at mine. Yep more food once again.

Followed by a few bubbles and ending with a night cap of honey cognac.

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Monday was a little less paced and after a well deserved sleep in, I wanted to take them for a stroll along the wealthy streets of the Kings Road, with a visit to the Chelsea farmers market and a pit stop at Gail’s bakery.

My word, there is some fine looking cakes in that shop!

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I also wanted to stop by and show them the cutest pub going in Chelsea – the Jam Tree, which serves some pretty enticing cocktails and features a private beer garden equipped with fairy lights and a BBQ.

That evening I had organised a special dinner at Berners Tavern in the gorgeous Edition hotel. If you don’t already know, there is a stylish bar hidden away called the Punch room serving some of the best whisky cocktails around. This includes a welcome drink which is changed on a daily basis. Im really serious 🙂

And some pretty moorish selections of nuts. A little dangerous before dinner don’t you think?

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The restaurant itself is exquisite, with bold high ceilings, glistening chandeliers and covered wall to wall in many different beautiful pieces of artwork. It really is mesmerizing to look at when you first enter the room.

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For the food side of things, the cuisine being served is full of modern British dishes, so Mum and I agreed that the fillet steak was the best way to go. Team that with some mashed swede & carrot, extra fat sized chips and you’ve pretty much got a match made in heaven.

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Aaaand me being me, couldn’t help myself once I saw the dessert menu. It seemed most appropriate to finish off the evening with some rich chocolate cheesecake. I mean duhh, as if you wouldn’t.

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Suddenly it was Tuesday morning and on high on the agenda of things to do, was to catch a train to Bath for the day. Now you would think after living here for quite sometime that I would know the situation with booking trains in advance. NOPE. Possibly a slight boo boo on my part, meant paying a hefty fare (about £75 return) which was not what I had in mind but I couldn’t let something like this over-shine the day and in the end we had no choice but to pay it. Oopsie

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The journey will take you about 1 and a half hour from Paddington Station and straight into Bath Spa station, which is situated in the centre of town. Everything being reachable by foot and there are loads of retail outlets for shoppers, the roman baths if you’re a history buff. lush gardens and plenty of hidden pathways to mooch about. 

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Wednesday was a very exciting day because that only meant one thing – Champagne afternoon Tea at one of my favourite luxury spots in London, Claridges Hotel. This five star hotel, nestled in the heart of Mayfair, is breathtaking from the moment you step inside the magical art decor foyer. Dating back to 1856, this iconic hotel also boasts a 1930’s swanky bar (which we had to have at least one drink at) and a high end restaurant called Fera.

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Which I have also dined at. And yes its amazing.

The afternoon tea is a quintessential special treat to spoil your Mummy or a bestie or even your beau (and judging by the feedback from mine, I get the hint that it might be alright).

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Keeping with the traditional theme, the menu includes the most delicate handmade desserts, fresh, melt in your mouth scones and array of perfectly prepared sandwiches. Can I just say the corn-feed chicken with truffle mayonnaise is mind blowing. It really is worth the mention here. 

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As well as sipping back a lovely glass of Laurent Perrier bubbles, there was also a mountain of teas to choose from – anything from white, black, green and herbal. I can highly recommend Malawi Antler, which by the way, is one of the most sought after teas in the world and Claridge’s happens to be one of the two places where you will find that it is served. I feel honoured.

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Big tip from me? Always come starving hungry because I warn you, like most afternoon teas, the are mega filling and you’re always left walking away wishing you hadn’t ate that very last decadent looking cake. Damn you!

 

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Since it was such a balmy clear blue sky kinda day, I couldn’t resist a trip up to the Shard with a glass of vino in hand on level 31’s trendy Aqua bar. As you might have read from previous posts, I have visited on several occasions and that view never seems to gets old (even if it means paying a hefty price for a cocktail just to be there – its really worth every penny).

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Thursday was a special day for a certain someone who was celebrating his birthday and a certain amazing girlfriend had a lovely evening in store for him, which included some italian cuisine at Da Mario on Gloucestor Road (loaded with ample amounts of prosecco) and a trip to a concert hall that I utterly adore,The Royal Albert Hall for Above and Beyond, acoustics.

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Their live performance was phenomenal and at times, hard to fight back the tears of emotions! It definitely bought back my love for classical and jazz music in a big way and an impeccable way to finish off a very busy week.

 

 

Sorry for the long winded post and the truckload of pics, went a little overboard but wanted to share as much as I possibly could with you all 🙂

Its hard to believe how quickly the week flew past, but I am ever so grateful to have spent some quality time with the fam, exploring the sights and making the most of our short time together. If there is one thing I could say about about living in this city, it’s that you never run out of things to do! Whether its a freebie or costs a pretty penny, the choices are endless and you never go a day without feeling completely bored out of your brains. Truth.

Glenrothes whiskey tasting with the Golden Network

Whiskey tasting. Now its not something I would go gaga over, simply because I am not a massive lover of the grain alcoholic beverage. HOWEVER, over the past year I have slowly been introduced to the brown liquor, thanks to my darling friend Emma who on the other hand, is quite the fan of the brand. I have to say, that is growing on me 🙂 

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Since I am pretty clueless on the subject of Whiskey and Emma loves Glenrothes, I asked her to join me for an exclusive Glenrothes whisky tasting class at Boisdale of Belgravia and thanks to the Golden Network.

The restaurant itself is a classic example of true Scottish style, with tartan wall to wall, bright reds & forest greens, oak wooden furniture and so much space! Very deceiving from the front entrance, of just how big this venue really is. 

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We were seated in a cosy area with a small gathering of network members. Amanda Baxter was our delightful host for the evening and also a product manager for Berry Bros & Rudd.

We had 4 whiskeys to taste for the evening.

The Vintage Reserve

1998

2001

1995 – this was my pick of the four, but im just going by how easy it is to drink, and this baby was pretty smooth! 

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Amanda also talked us through just how whiskey is made with a little history lesson on how Glenrothes became how it is today.

The single malt scotch whiskey is produced in Scotland in a place called Speyside, which is also home to 50% of other distilleries. Reason for this is simply because its of its wonderful water for distilling and great arable land for growing barley. Funnily enough, Glenrothes would probably have never got its feet off the ground if it wasn’t for the help of the local Presbyterian minister, who ended up funding the project after a banking crisis halted construction. I also learnt that it is the only distillery situated by a grave yard. Spooky stuff!

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Interestingly enough, the producers here believe that age will not specifically tell you what is in the bottle. A Glenrothes vintage will be bottled, according to age, but not maturity. 

As we all know, what happens in the cask is far more important than the length of time spent in it!

So there you go.

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If you want to know more about what makes a great whiskey or are interested in learning more in a tasting class then take a look on the links below for more info – 

Glenrothes official website

Boisdale restaurant events 

As always, a big thank you to the Golden Network for putting on another prestigious and high quality event. I must say its always so nice to experience something different and now that I have conquered the whiskey tasting, im just wondering what is next on the list of amazing things to see and taste…! 

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Cheers 🙂

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