The Blondoner’s May Playlist

A little late on this one this month (apologies!) but I promise the wait will be totally worth it 🙂 

Starting off with a little tech house including one of my favourite Hot Since 82’s tracks to date – the remix of Music is the Answer. Absolutely loving the vocals in this track including the originals!

Included is the latest from Alt J which is a typical track from them – a very catchy tune with Joe Newman’s reverberating voice, plenty of guitars present and a hint of electronica. Can’t seem to stop playing this one!

I also threw in a few tracks that were huge in Australia and personal favourites of mine including the Presets this boys in love, Pictures by the ever cool Sneaky Sounds System and who couldn’t forget D.A.N.C.E by Justice. I will always remember seeing them at Parklife in Brisbane on the hill and remembering just how insane they were live. Some of the best festival moments right there!

And last but not least, one of the tracks close to my heart by Tube & Berger called Surfin’. A very chilled number which is great to listen to while sitting on a beach watching the waves roll against the soft sand. 

Track list below otherwise you can find in the right hand side bar of the main page. xx

 

Italian Dessert decadence in South Kensington

It’s about time that London finally had some dessert bars popping up around the place (something I believe the city lacks so much there of) so when I was asked to come along and try out the cutest little establishment to hit South Kensington, it was very much in my best interest (and for my readers of course) to find out just what is on offer at Trevi Italian Tiramisu.

DSC02159

I was greeted by the very welcoming shop manager, Fiammetta who was busy displaying all the beautifully decorated Tiramisu desserts in the window front. We took a seat while I admired some of the creative photography decked from wall to wall which I was told symbolises some historic places and events that happened many moons ago in Italy.

TIRAMISU-26

TIRAMISU-31

The outside of this quaint cafe features some petite vintage tables and chairs covered by bright blue leopard cushions and an off white shading canopy to keep you covered in case you fancy a treat rain, hail or shine. 

Just for a little bit of history behind it all…the shop owner, interestingly enough is a movie director, actor, producer and screen writer born in Rome and has partnered up with the great master pastry chef Gaetano Giordano who brings his original recipes of Tiramisu from generation to generation and also belongs to a successful family of pastry chefs from Rome.

DSC02129

Fiammetta being the managing supervisor, has an astounding knowledge of all items on the menu including the ingredients which she tells me are all from Italy giving it that unique authentic touch. While speaking to her she expressed just how important it is to keep the authenticity when it comes to quality and where the ingredients originate from. I have to say that I agree with her when it comes to all cuisine types right across the board! 

DSC02144

TIRAMISU-45

We were given a number of delicious Tiramisu desserts to try and each indulged are in alphabetical order. I adored the way they were presented in clear miniature square shaped cups (and just the right size trust me!)

**They also spice up the dessert selection according to chef creativity, seasonal products and festivities**

Classic – if you’re a big fan, then I’m guessing this one is a no brainer 🙂 swirling with traditional flavours, this variety will never let you down. 

TIRAMISU-145

Amaretto – Im not a huge lover of this distinctive flavours so hard to give my honest opinion however it is the only Tiramisu on the menu that has alcohol if that takes your fancy.

TIRAMISU-146

Strawberry – always love a bit of fresh fruit and colour to a dessert, this one is mixed with mascarpone and cream and is rather easy on the palate.

TIRAMISU-86

Pear, Ricotta & chocolate – this had to be my favourite of the lot. topped with sprinkles of chocolate (dark) and beautifully cooked pear, the main ingredient is the ricotta which makes it a lot less sweeter and in my opinion, means more to put on my spoon! (and the belly)

TIRAMISU-87

Mixed Berries – This one had a lovely fluffy custard taste which I fancied terribly and of course the berry texture and favours were a nice touch.

TIRAMISU-88

Profiteroles – probably the most decadent of the bunch, is possibly also the richest in flavours so would recommend sharing! Absolutely divine!

DSC02131

Trevi also offers a number of other sensational delights including the traditional Naples dessert, Baba au rhum. Appearing more to the likes of a sponge cake, is made with rum, saturated in syrup and filled with cream. Surprisingly its not overpowering in liquor taste so don’t be frightened to give it a whirl!

DSC02151

TIRAMISU-58

TIRAMISU-1

After all of this I must be honest and say that I have never been the biggest Tiramisu fan however after letting my guard down and trying these desserts I must say I am highly impressed with just how good these really do taste and as some would say, now converted. 🙂 Of course all desserts can be accompanied with a freshly grinded cup of coffee or rich Italian-style hot chocolate, or even purchased to make one’s dinner even more lush! Not only that, they are open every day to welcome you with a smiling face and open arms. I guess that’s just an Italian thing 😉 

www.trevitiramisu.co.uk

The Blondoner’s April (Birthday) Playlist

I love April.

Just because its generally the month when the weather begins to warm up, the flowers begin to blossom, Easter time is just around the corner and of course the all important – my birthday 🙂

Sooooo for this month I thought about doing a playlist which is upbeat, a little risqué, gets you up on your feet and generally makes you feel happy! (well it does for me anyway) Some of the tracks I have picked are those that I either heard at an after party, raved to at a club or a day festival back in the early 00’s and every time I hear them, the good memories always come flooding back in. Awwww

One of my all time favourites is Loneliness from a very cool German producer called Tomcraft. I used to make the DJ play this track almost every Saturday night at a club called Quest on the Gold Coast – of course, he wouldn’t play it until right at the end which I didn’t mind as it was the best way to end the night! 

And how could you forget Max Linen’s mega summer anthem – Flashback. The lyrics in this track are top notch – ‘I went to the DJ, some guy named knuckles. Something like that, I don’t know; And I said to him “Hey! Wheres my wife? Where is my wife?” 

You can find a list of the tracks below or in the right hand side bar which are found on Spotify. 

Enjoy!

 

Evans & Peel – reporting back, over & out!

 

When I was asked to review a ‘hidden’ bar, I really had to think about how I was going to approach this one…

Of course, I want to tell the world about just how awesome this place is without trying to give too much away, as after all it is an underground speakeasy nightspot and its all a bit hush hush. 😉

IMG_3662

ANYWAY all of this aside, I guess I should crack on and tell you about ‘my’ experience at this mysterious Earls Court location.

One of the biggest drawcard here for me, is that it is very rare to find such a unique place over this side of town. Im talking about the West in particular. Shoreditch seems to have taken most of the quirky ones and I should mention that Barts are pretty exceptional over in Sloane Avenue but thats about as good as it gets over this side of town.

IMG_3733

The name for a start is brilliant. They call it Evans & Peel Detective Agency.

No I’m not kidding but its not what you think..

OR IS IT. 

I can tell you that there is a ‘detective’ theme around this so be prepared once you’ve rung that little door bell and told to come down those low lit stairs. When I mean prepared, I’m meaning that its all about having an open mind. Remember this does have an immersive side to it but DONT be caught off guard because its all just a bit of fun and having a laugh at the end of the day 🙂

IMG_3697

IMG_3687

Inside, my first impressions were how much bigger it was as to what I had actually imagined in my head.  Its pretty deceiving from the outside which is probably why its called a speakeasy in the first place but when you are underground, you cant help but feel like everything is so much smaller and cosier. That intimate kind of feeling which I will mention now before I forget – its a great place to take someone on a date. Its fairly dark inside, with mood lit candles, wooden mismatched furniture and a long bar to perch on in case your intrigued by how they make their ‘potions’.

IMG_3717

IMG_3709

We were lucky enough to be nestled into a snug little area – like a cubby hole…. but not really. I invited my friend Emma along who doesn’t mind a cocktail or 5 and the good thing about bringing a friend is that its likely they are going to have different tastes to you. In Emma’s case she loves whiskey – me not so much. I prefer vodka or gin based cocktails, nothing overly sweet and please no Cosmos or Pornstar martinis on the menu. It’s been done to death 🙂

We decided to get some snacks in as there is nothing worse than drinking on an empty stomach (lets be responsible adults for once!)

I started off with the usual suspects which contains egg white – I’m a big fan of it. I know it sounds a little weird but it really does make the cocktail that much fluffier in texture and I loved the combined raspberry fruity flavours with that went with it. 

IMG_3737

IMG_3694

IMG_3693

DSC01959

IMG_3680

Surprisingly the bar nibbles were absolute class. Definitely not so great for the waste line but lets be real, I’m not about to sweat it out in a spin class. (mental note to go to the gym at some point).

IMG_3664

We grabbed the shotgun strippers which consisted of moorish crumbed chicken bites and came with shots of hot sauce. Always a favourite while on the turps. (thats slang for drinking)

The Nacho average which I can assure you was not average, one little bit. In fact it came out in a very large vintage cooking tray and was loaded with all the goodies – topped with pulled chilli pork, sour cream, jalapeno’s and plenty of spunky salsa.  

And lastly which I almost regretted ordering was the M&C on steroids. Yes, you read this right. Basically a mountain of sublime creamy macaroni cheese, bacon bits and truffle oil. Now you cant argue this one. Its heaven in a bowl. 

 

Now back to reporting of the nights sipping’s (there are a few) 

Simple Sanguine – a lot of citrus and very sharp, mixed with blood orange, elderflower, mezcal I found this quite intense and one of the drinks that gets better the more you drink it.

IMG_3704

 

Michael Corleone says hello – I quite liked this one. An Italian biscuit infused bourbon – a serious take on the old fashioned and the fact that you get a yummy biccie to go with it, is a double win! 

IMG_3738

 

Time coord negroni – decorated with a piece or orange peel hanging on the glass with a peg. Quite the touch and Emma tells me its pretty good.  Vermouth, Campari, bitters – you know the score. Not my thing but we all have preferences!

DSC01953

 

Balsamic fix – bacon beef salt and celery bacon? Sounds weird I know but I did quite like the flavours going on here especially when your mouth hits the salty bit on the rim of the glass. 

IMG_3724

 

G Minus 6 – Gin, lemon, pisco and soda but without the tonic! Another easy one on the palate – a good one to end the night. 

IMG_3769

 

Clover breakfast club – a beautiful fruity concoction of english breakfast tea infused, gin, raspberry jam, lime and topped with some type of dried petals. A very pretty drink. 

IMG_3773

 

 

Scandinavian leather – came in a huge glass, filled with passionfruit, vodka, lemon, Swedish liquor and topped with an open passionfruit. A very easy tipple to drink!

 

IMG_3713

 

Well now that I’ve given away a little too much, it really goes without saying, this place is wicked and a must to check out. A cool set up, pleasantly welcoming, with staff who are super friendly and take their cocktail making deadly seriously.

www.evansandpeel.com

 

 

“I offer you this challenge here and now to accept this undercover case and report back with all the findings”. 

Yours truly,

Detective Steph 

9f13bd1eae797486aaca122c9aee4902_secrets-grunge-top-secret-cute-detective-top-secret-folder-clipart_1300-1292

 

Flamingo Yoga Brunch – A very unique Supper club experience!

A short time ago back in January, I was invited along by Tabl to a very exciting supper club combining yang and yin style yoga and the most gorgeous vegan food I have ever laid eyes on. Hosted at a very homely location in Hackney called Reva Studios, with the lovely Emmy as our yoga instructor and Kali cooking using her magical plant based ingredients to serve up a magnificent feast for us all! 

DSC01842

I arrived early on location to get in a few snaps before everyone else arrived and I have to say the place was totally admirable. Set in an East London type warehouse, the open plan home was decked out with sleek white floors, gigantic sturdy wooden posts and fairy lights displayed with yoga mats positioned neatly all over the floor. There was plenty of natural light where the communal eating table was placed for brunch and tastefully decorated in generous greenery.

It certainly felt like a very relaxing environment to let go of all those stresses and a very fitting setting for a yoga class. 

DSC01844

DSC01849

DSC01851

Once all had been welcomed, Emmy started of the 75minute class of Yang and Yin yoga with some breathing techniques followed by nourishing yin poses to release and unwind. This type of yoga is especially designed to energise and refresh. Ending with some guided meditation and leaving you feeling in a blissful mind set. I sadly didn’t get a chance to take any photos due to being so in the zone at the time to even think about picking up a camera! But for anyone who enjoys practising yoga, you should definitely try one of Emmy’s classes. I felt very calm and collective by the end of the session and had managed to work up my usual appetite – now wheres the food? 🙂 

IMG_2466

DSC01862

Once seated around the table, we were all ready to tuck in to the 5 courses on offering. I am not a vegan nor a vegetarian but I still enjoy eating it from time to time, especially if its as tasty as what I was about to get stuck into! Its actually quite amazing what can be made with meat and diary free ingredients! 

IMG_2464

DSC01865

Firstly, we were served green Mimosa or coconut water for those being extra healthy, followed by small plates of chick pea tortilla chips, salsa and the most incredible guacamole dip I have tried to date.  The chips were also highly rateable, so much so, that we asked for seconds just so we could finish off that classic avocado based dip of goodness. 

DSC01868

IMG_2478

Following from this was a very interesting dish consisting of charred cauliflower and sesame tostadas. I feel a theme coming on here..! But in all seriousness, this was extremely tasty, bursting with loads of lovely flavours topped with spring onions and a touch of chilli oil. Oh stop it!

DSC01871

The next course, which I thought had to be the main due to its well portioned size, was called the Corn Congee and this was my favourite of the lot. I loved the texture of the aubergine, combined with seaweed, peanut chilli oil and toasted tempeh. I’ve never had this before and I couldn’t get enough of it. Absolutely scrumptious and very nicely presented on the plate. 

DSC01876

Next it was bowls of fresh, vibrant slow roast beet and Pepita salad. Plenty of lush green and deep purple colours swirled around the ceramic bowls, were a delightful touch to the end of the meal as well as being light on the tummy. 

And last but not least, the all important dessert!

Chocolate, pistachio cream and brittle. Say. No. More. If you have ever tried a vegan chocolate cake or cheesecake, you know exactly what I’m talking about here. Absolute on point, heavenly, moorish, get in my mouth kind of dessert. The pistachio cream was DIVINE and I’m not afraid to say that I could have gone for seconds. Oops. 

DSC01879

IMG_2508

I have to say, I was blown away by the quality of this brunch. You can tell that a lot of thought and passion as well as creativity has gone into the planning of each dish and one thing is for sure – you can tell the ingredients are mega fresh and everything is made right from scratch. It was also great to meet a friendly bunch of people and an ideal activity whilst being on a bit of a health kick. (and fun of course!!!)

Thank you to Tabl for giving me this opportunity to participate, I always love and look forward to unique experiences in London and this is certainly one of them worth doing. 🙂 

IMG_2496

 

If this is well up your street then you are in luck! They have another brunch event happening on the 14th May and this will sell out quickly. Click below for more details – 

https://emmyyoga.com/yoga-brunch/ 

Also check out some pretty wicked events on Tabl – they have some of the best supper clubs going on in London right now & that is a fact! 

Shout out to Kali Cooking & Emmy – you can find them both on twitter @EmmyYoga @Kalicooking 

The Blondes boogie beats **March playlist**

Since I’m slightly crazy about music, I’ve decided to start a new segment on the blog each month with a playlist of new tracks I find, which I think are worthy of sharing to my fellow music lovers. Would love to have your feed back on this over the coming months and will try to keep it varied to as many genres as possible (and since I enjoy listening to a number of different styles!)

image1

I’m finding it hard to comprehend that it is MARCH already and after recently visiting Adelaide last week it seems like the term Mad March is the norm after witnessing just how much is going on in the city at present! While I was there, I recently went to a gig of my boyfriends which was a house & techno night so this month’s playlist will feature a few tracks inspired from that as well as some groovy electronic sounds. 

My favourite tune would have to be from Tiga –  I think he’s a musical genius and this cheeky new sound, is his latest offering after the ‘Blondes have more fun’ record (absolutely digging the name!)

 
                                                            1.0 Habischman - Moan

IMG_3499

 

           2.0 Dansson – Shake that 

                   3.0 Jamiroquai – Automaton

4.0 D Ramirez – La discotek (shakedown remix)

                    5.0 Mark Knight – Into my life

          6.0 Croatia Squad – Make your move 

7.0 Eelke Kleijn – Home 

8.0 Dub fire – Fuego (Julian Jeweil remix) 

IMG_3497

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.0 UMEK – Double the lust 

10.0 Adam Beyer & Ida Engberg – Unanswered question

IMG_3496

      11.0 Kaskade & Deadmau5 – Beneath with me 

12.0 HP Source – Leap of Faith (Carlos Beltran remix) 

 

13.0 Tiga – Eye luv U 

IMG_3498

 

14.0 Hot Since 82 – Damage 

 

*All tunes located on Spotify*

A festive treat at River Cottage Headquarters, Devon

So its Christmas, and you’ve already stuffed your face continuously for 4 days straight. Its only fair to say that one has had well over their quota for the festive period right? Ahh wrong!

IMG_1908

You know what I’m talking about here; sitting on the couch, slothing about while being surrounded by the aromas of cheese, biscuits, Quality Street sweets and decadent chocolates from Fortnum in Mason…. OK I’m guilty as charged! However it still didn’t mean I was missing out on an opportunity to visit the charming River Cottage and seeing as though I was in the area, it was only natural that I’d say yes. 

IMG_1906

Located in the beautiful Devonshire countryside just outside of Axminister, the only safe way of getting down to the farm house is by tractor and float which you are able to ride on the back of. This is not the most glamorous of entrances however I wouldn’t really recommend trying to walk down the uneven muddy hill unless you don’t mind the outdoor ruggedness or getting your favourite shoes ruined. 

IMG_1910

IMG_1917

IMG_1914

IMG_1912

On our arrival we were taken to a cutest little yurt style tent that had large bundles of barn hay as seats to perch on and colourful bunting hanging from the trellises. We are given a small glass of Kingston warm apple brandy to sip on while our host spoke about the itinerary for the afternoon. Also being served some delicious canapés and one of which was battered parsnips – a first time for me and rather moreish! 

For those of you that aren’t too familiar with River Cottage, its very well known for being on the TV – particular with cooking! Its located near the village of Musbury in a provincial 17th century farmhouse, has a cookery school, restaurant, a huge organic veggie/herb patch worth mentioning and over 66 acres of beautiful lush green land. It has also been graced by many famous faces and is owned by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

IMG_1966

IMG_1963

IMG_1946

I was also lucky enough to have a quick tour of the site including the famous ‘kitchen’ with that gorgeous wooden table and dreamy old-school appliances on display. The decor is all very rustic and bodes well with the farmhouse theme. 

Once seated next to the floor to ceiling windows with the sun baking through, our drink orders were taken and we were treated to some homemade slices of oven warm bread and scrumptious pumpkin dip, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds. A small starter of delicious mini meatballs topped with tomato and melted cheese was delivered soon after. I choose to drink a glass of rose as I’m still not quite ready to leave this wine to the side just because it is winter! Although don’t get me wrong, I still love my red over the colder months! 

IMG_1929

IMG_1930

For the two courses, we had a small introduction by the head chef, Gelf Anderson. Its always nice to know what you are putting into your body and since almost every ingredient is organic and from the farm, its knowing that the quality is there, that gets me excited for whats about to come!

IMG_1934

For main we were served a generous sized piece of ham glazed in honey and mustard with cabbage and leek, the creamiest of mashed potatoes and roasted tasty beetroot paired with apple. The ham of course, melted in your mouth and if I wasn’t so greedy, I could have gone for seconds! 

IMG_1962

And for my favourite course – orange and cinnamon steamed sponge with boozy custard. Now I’m not a huge fan of warm custard but when the flavours are this good, nothing is a problem – it was divine! 

IMG_1965

Finishing off with some chocolate ganache, it was fair to say that I was completely stuffed! 

IMG_1949

IMG_1957

A thoroughly enjoyable experience – one that I highly recommend if staying out that way or even passing by (they have a canteen as well!) I want to thank Dave & Emma and my lovely boyfriend for organising this because I really didn’t think I would be able to manage with the amount of food binging over Christmas break…BUT it was possible and definitely one for the memory bank! 

IMG_1920

Latimer wine tasting at the Royal Academy of Arts

I love wine.

There is no denying that fact.  So when I was asked to join an exclusive wine tasting event through my lovely friends at the Golden Network, I could hardly resist. 

dsc01775

Hosted at the prestigious Royal Academy of Arts inside Keepers House, there was a certain ooze of class and sophistication when I walked through the grand doors to a white open spaced room. Boasting an array of paintings by numerous artists and draped clothed tables topped with bottles of wine, waiting and ready to be judged by many. 

dsc01802

More importantly, you must know that this was a portfolio of wines on showcase by Latimer Vinters and to give you a bit of back ground about this company, they were founded back in 2013 to offer private and trade clients access to the finest wines at the most competitive prices. They are based in London and specialise in a number of wines from regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, The Rhone Valley plus a number of sought after wines from around the globe. 

dsc01782

img_0984

I meet Chris, who works in sales and purchasing and I asked him what his favourite region of choice was. He advised that Burgundy was at the top of the list, although Bordeaux was not too far behind it. He also told me he admires the wines of the Northern Rhone and a fine German Riesling. I must say I massively agree on the Bordeaux wines – it was one of my most memorable wine tasting experiences to date. 

Now on to the wines. I bought my friend Clara along with me who is also a lover of wine. Shock horror 😉 we also were due for a much needed catch up so it was all about killing two birds with one stone. As they say. 

dsc01790

The list we were given was lengthly – three pages to be exact. Yes thats right – ALOT of wines to get through. But this doesn’t give you an open invitation to get plastered and drink them all….does it 🙂

Well you could, if you can handle it, but for people like me, wine still goes to my head only after a few so its probably a good idea to sip that water in-between and not make an embarrassment of yourself, if you know what I mean.

dsc01805

These days I don’t find myself drinking a huge amount of white wine. Over the years my palate has most certainly changed and I don’t mind a drop of the full bodied red, especially during the winter months or paired with some rich dark chocolate to nibble on.

img_0994

Since I am a born and breed Kiwi, it seemed rude not to try the Greywacke Sav blanc from New Zealand. As expected it was bursting with fruity notes and I gave it a generous 6/10 (without trying to be too biased in my decision making process). I was bold enough to try a couple of the chardonnay’s and one that stood out in this collection for me was the Chassange Montrachet 2013, Clos St Jean. Still a tad dry but bearable for a person who has never ever been a fan of this grape. 

dsc01792

On to the selection of beautiful reds and I had my eye on a couple of good looking wines from Bordeaux – well of course darlings!!! A stand out was the Ch. Haut Mallet 2014 – smooth, easy to drink and extremely reasonable on price.  

dsc01798

dsc01801

Clara discovered a delightful Pinot Noir called Nuits St Georges, Cru Les Murgers 2013 which made me twinkle. Twinkle?! I have to say, this is the type of wine that will drag you in and leave you longing for more.. 

img_1022

dsc01788

After enjoying the best part of the evening, we were then advised that in the room next door, there was also a small selection of champagnes to taste as well as sweet wines and some appetising cheeses.  Unfortunately we were a bit slow getting to the bubbles and I only got to try the Pol Roger 2014 which was most pleasant with some creamy blue cheese. 

______________________________

 

Before I knew it, it was almost 10pm and I couldn’t believe how much the time had just flown by (time flies when you’re having fun). A thoroughly lovely evening once again by the Golden Network and ten points to Latimer for putting on an elegant event with a fantastic choice of many types of wines. 

img_1409

 

If you’d like to know more details about Latimer and their services you can head over to their website:

http://www.latimervintners.com/ 

E: wine@latimervintners.com 

 

Golden Network

http://www.thegoldennetwork.co.uk/

white_400x270_logo

A new speakeasy arrives in the hood (SW6 I mean)

 

Only just recently have I noticed quite a few very cool entertainment venues popping up around the neighbourhood, in particular cocktail bars, with plenty of quirky-ness and originality. Im speaking about Fulham, which is in my part of town and a happening area for young people, possibly well off and most likely to be of Australian nationality (note that this is not the reason why I live here!).

img_0782

When I first heard about Hanger SW which is the latest steak house to arrive at the top of North End Road, I had no clue that, downstairs in the basement there was a secret hidden speakeasy bar called Below the Cut. Possibly why it is such a secret bar, is there is actually no way of knowing unless your eating in the restaurant Hanger and need to use the loo.

Now this can be tricky, especially if its brand new to the area and you don’t fancy being out hawking on the streets to drawing in too many large crowds of people  – I totally get this which is another reason to keep it nice and exclusive and hopefully by word of mouth, the locals will have it on their radar to check out.

img_0768

And this is where I come in, to tell you all about this charming retro venue, even though its kind of a bit hush hush but you get what I mean here.

img_0792

dsc01743

I had the opportunity to try out some of their impressive cocktail list. Fairly minimalistic but who needs a list 10 pages long – too much to choose from can sometimes be worse in my opinion. 

The bar food had a generous offering and we were able to tuck into a few bites of their menu while sipping away. 

img_0787

img_0790

The pork fritters, which were highly recommended, weren’t actually featured on the menu but were incredibly fluffy with a nice crumbed texture and lovely spices. 

We also dug into some hand cut rosemary chips, and a good old favourite – salt and vinegar squid! 

dsc01759

The cheese steak slider which was basically a massive burger, was cut in half and easily enough for one person as an evening meal so recommend to share with friends if you are wanting a small snack to munch on. All the bar food comes from their restaurant upstairs which is focuses on steak and chargrilled cooking.  

dsc01767

Cocktails tried and tasted –

Moon river – gin, lemon, cointreau, peach, vanilla & egg white (love a good egg white cocktail)

Royal lady – vodka, infused with lush rhubhard and prosecco (definitely loving the rhubard flavours at the moment)

G&T Vesper – Birchalls earl grey infused Sipsmith London dry, Skyy vodka, martini bianco, BTW tonic syrup, grapefruit (not as strong as the original but just as bitter – very smooth on the palate) 

img_0781

img_0759

img_0779

The cocktail menu is designed with an edge, with plenty of creativity and flare, fitting in well to the speakeasy theme. The bar itself is lined wall to wall in old records, stacks of old library books, old fashioned lamps and my favourite, the bright cocktails and dreams neon sign to greet you in the stairwell. 

dsc01771

img_0791

img_1062

Im very pleased that something like this has finally arrived into the area. A refreshing change from the pubs and sports bars that are featured in Fulham at present. Definitely a great place to come after work with friends or a great starting point for a night out on the town. 

logo-07

461 North End Rd, Fulham, London SW6 1NZ

B2B – Budapest/Balaton Part 2

Travelling by train seemed to be one of the quickest means of transport to Balaton Station however to put it lightly, this was no luxurious train journey by any means. There was no air-conditioning, no pull out tray tables or electricity plugs in sight. However, on the contrary to this I believe that you need to be put into these types of situations, to appreciate what you have and how much worse off you really could be. Thats what travelling is all about, so smile, suck it up and embrace it.

unspecified-7

img_2258

On another note, Charlotte and I decided to splash out and book into a plush hotel just 5 minutes walk from the festival entrance. This hotel was called the Wellamarin and I really couldn’t have wished for anything better. Call me a diva, whatever but I’m at that age where camping in the heat doesn’t really tickle my fancy. I like to come home to a shower, fresh sheets and a comfy bed so if that meant spending a little extra, so be it. The hotel itself had some luxurious facilities, including a state out the art spa, outdoor pool with bar servicing fresh lemonades and included in our rate was half board. Thus meaning we were treated to breakfast and dinner every single day of our stay. Not bad I say, not bad.

img_2259

img_2266

img_2439

After settling in to a modern surroundings, we got ourselves festival ready, bellies filled with a couple of glasses of vino (or more like a bottle..) and made our way towards the beating sounds of Balaton…

For those of you who aren’t too familiar with this festival, its actually been running for 10 years and is one of eastern Europe’s largest. In fact over 180, 000 people graced through the gates over the five days which is mind blowing for something that is in a pretty remote spot in my opinion. Its situated on a glistening lake which means by day, you can relax, take a dip and lap up those gorgeous water views. By evening, you have the most perfect sunset back drops, the humid warmth against your skin and a nonstop rave marathon of wicked beats from an array of different dance genres.

img_2285

img_2222

img_2365

img_2254

As I was lucky enough to bag myself a press pass for the event (plus I had VIP) it was a nice touch having an area you could go to with fresh clean toilets, chill out areas, a view of the main stage and even a wine bar. Now were talking 🙂 I also have to point out how super organised everything was. I’ve never been to a festival that was being cleaned up the minute the first stage was closed, it was nice to see that the organisers were on it and something that UK festival should seriously take note of!

img_2577

img_2369

img_2500

img_2499

Another thing I really loved about this festival (and there are many!) was the paying system. As the event was sponsored by Mastercard, naturally the best thing to do was set up a debit card type system which was topped up with cash or card and tapped on each vendors machine as if it were contact-less. It also gave you a balance to check on the disgusting amount of  money spent and consumed on alcohol.

Kidding. But all jokes aside, this payment system is very much the way forward – no mucking about with silly tickets or cash which is easily lost under boozy influences (as we all know).

 

Now back to the music itself. The line up for me wasn’t too bad. There was quite a mixture of genres including EDM, hiphop, trance, house and techno. Artists this year ranged from Duke Dumont, Booka shade, Matador, Chocolate Puma, Sven Vath, Chris Brown and Steve Aoki. There were dozens of stages, including the main stage which was quite spectacular at night and very bright during the hours of the day. Plenty of beach bars which had tons of sand bought in plus a Heineken/local radio stage and not forgetting the massive Telekom arena, which was a definite favourite but will get into that a bit later on.

img_2643

dsc01222

dsc01227

dsc01254

There was a wide range of food stalls with a mixture of cuisines – mostly Hungarian but I didn’t mind because the quality was there. Something that festivals are definitely improving on and compared to years ago when it was all about the greasy pizza, hot dog and chips… yes we’ve all been there! I even managed to find somewhere that sold fresh watermelon and of course there were what seemed like a gillazion cocktail bars to keep the hydration at bay.

img_2422

On the Wednesday evening, being the first day and all, the excitement was amplified times a thousand and the anticipation of what to expect for the week was quite overwhelming,  I just couldn’t wait to shake my booty until the break of dawn and lap up load of sunshine.

img_2603

unspecified-8

One of the first big act that I wanted to see were Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – an American hip hop duo, who were scheduled to come on fairly early into the night and had certainly pulled a rather large crowd of people towards the colourful main stage. I can’t say I was overly amazed by their performance, particularly after watching them have a tea party and throwing cakes into the crowd but whatever works to stoke the party atmosphere into gear! Not really my cup of tea 😉

unspecified-11

unspecified-15

unspecified-10

unspecified-9

13627146_10153796651543367_1629226667301724552_n

The actual layout of the festival was very on point. Widely spread so big crowds of people could depart and arrive through the gates without a fuss, plenty of grassed areas for relaxing by the side of the water & stages placed accurately apart so the tunes weren’t overlapping. The beach bars in particular were awesome, built a few good metres above the waters edge and bought a real Ibiza type feel to the lake. After the disappointment of Macklemore it was a win stumbling across a rocking bar with a bucket load of sand, decked out with wicked house tunes… it was already looking like a winning start to the evening.

unspecified-25

unspecified-13

unspecified-28

The biggest and best find was the humongous Telekom arena, which was pure white and seemed to spread for miles. It was probably the only area we spent the most time in for the duration of the week, so you’re probably wondering if that was the stage that had the best artists and you might be dead right about that one.

Also to note was the outside chilling areas with beanbags which were a huge drawcard for our group, although it was some-what a struggle to pull myself  out of them a few times – comfort level was about a 10!

img_2299

We managed to catch most of Oliver Helden’s set in the arena and having not seen him play live before was not only incredible  but a very impressive way to stipulate my high expectations for the week ahead. He played so many classics, I just couldn’t stop dancing with a huge big grin on my face.

Its rare to find any top DJ pumping out so many old school tunes in one set. Loved every minute of it!! Hungarian duo, Muzzaik came on after and even though I had never heard of them before, they were equally as admirable and good enough to keep me going until about 4am. Early night of course 🙂

img_2429

img_2436

img_2443

As to be expected, I was feeling a little rusty around the edges the following Thursday morning. All I can say is, praise the lord for booking a hotel. Meanwhile, our poor friends were cooking back at the campsite and had barely slept a wink with the heat of their tent… but one things for sure, at least with this type of festival you have the luxury of sleeping beside a gorgeous clean lake, even if that means walking 20 metres to the more peaceful areas to keep away from the music.

We made use of the pool for most of the day, catching some rays and licking our way through ice creams! Definitely a perfect way to get rid of a nasty hangover, so once that was been and gone it was back to the festival for round 2.

unspecified-14

clip-5

dsc01246

We thought it would probably be good idea to spend some time in the VIP area, since we did pay the extra to have the privilege, it made total sense to take advantage of it wherever possbile. Charlotte and I started on the vino and just in time for US DJ KSHMR’s set. I started to see a number of people flowing by the droves into the gates and running over to the main stage in a scurry, so I had a feeling it was not going to be a disappointing set especially when he belted out his top 1o track Secrets! The atmosphere literally changed within seconds and it even had me up off my chair bopping away (or maybe that was the wine starting to kick in). Later on into the night, Don Diablo and Nervo played their sets and sadly, I weakened and had to go back to the hotel for some shut eye… I’m afraid this is a sign of getting old kiddlies!

img_2279

img_2337

unspecified-27

img_2338

Friday I woke up with a spring in my step. It really is quite astonishing how good you feel after after a well rested sleep, almost like a new person but whats even more funnier, is that I’ll no doubt go and do this all over again and basically never learn my lesson.

Which is exactly what happened….

img_2445

img_2449

img_2477

After another day of tanning by the pool (someone has to do it) I was revitalised, pumped and ready for another raving session. Also uber excited as the Trance lads were headlining aka Ferry Corsten,Paul Van Dyk and Aly & Fila. Again, all the legends were playing in the Telekom arena and I was so ready.

unspecified-18

unspecified-19

unspecified-20

13680641_10206662591982829_7132644878801937318_n

unspecified-22

unspecified-21

unspecified-23

To start the Friday evening off, Charlotte and I met with the rest of our friends for drinks just outside the festival area at a wicked shack looking bar and purely for a change of scenery. I loaded up on energy drinks which is a complete no no for someone with caffeine sensitivities and definitely not recommend but I needed the extra energy to last the night away and this was my only opinion. We headed straight for the long white cloud.. I mean tent and just in time for Mr Corsten’s set, which kicked off the balmy night with a mixture of uplifting & hard trance tunes.

Everyone was undoubtably looking forward to PVD’s set, only recently returning to the stage after his horrific fall, it was hard to know just what to expect but of course, it was completely flawless (as I had imagined). I don’t think I’ve danced that hard in quite sometime but with the laser lights beaming in all directions and the tunes banging,  the energy in the arena was really indescribable, I just knew I was going to be an early morning finish with atmosphere being so intense.

unspecified-12

img_2645

Come Saturday lunchtime when I decided it would be an appropriate time to arise, I was feeling a little under the weather, drained and no where near on form but the beauty of being at a music festival means that you truly aren’t alone with these hideous feelings of wanting to curl up and die. Fortunately for me, I miraculously managed to bounce back come late evening as there was no way I was missing my very last night, even if it was for just a few hours – it was time to suck it up.

unspecified-26

unspecified-16

unspecified-24

unspecified-17

Armin Van Buuren was the headliner for Saturday and as you would have guessed, it was completely rammed. A contrast to Wednesday and obviously one of the most popular nights out of the week, the vibe was buzzing and although AVB belted out a number of very commercial tracks, I surprisingly got into it and found myself dancing around with the last bit of energy I had – I think this is called second wind HA.

Meanwhile my crazy friend Jon decided that it was a good opportunity to have a go on the bungy jump directly next to the stage. He then later tells me, that it was very relaxing. No thanks.

img_2550

img_2531

13592321_1339701139379035_789896107461340673_n

I forgot to mention that around 10pm every night, they set off spectacular fireworks to mark the closing of the main stage and these lasted for a good 5mins every time. Nice little touch don’t you think 😉

13692479_10154331731883615_588399116782860741_n

img_2565

img_2322

Sunday morning, I was feeling 80% with it and after our last hearty breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and headed back to the festival to soak up the sun for the last few hours before having to catch a train and flight back to London. We could have had the option of staying until It finished on Monday morning but it was time to go home, back to work and face reality. Which I wasn’t ready for AT ALL!

img_2594

 

Balaton is probably one of the best and most promising music festivals I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. Anyone that is looking to venture overseas next year and is wanting an experience which incorporates the glorious sounds of music as well as basking in some breathtaking scenery should add this to their list because if I could do it again, I would do so in a heartbeat!

 

Photo credit – Jon Self photography

https://www.facebook.com/jonselfphotography/

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...