.: Le Boudin Blanc :.

Last week we went out for dinner middle of the week with friends who were enjoying for the first time they are parents, some time just for them. For how much you love your kids I’m sure there will always be moments you also miss the times when you could do anything you wanted, including trying new restaurants on a Thursday evening. As we’re about to join their club, felt like a really good idea to go too.

One of our friends, who loves both Marylebone and Mayfair, selected the restaurant. I can’t say no to a French restaurant and I love those areas as well! The choice was Le Boudin Blanc

Loved the environment immediately! Really cosy without being pretentious with really friendly staff. One of the staff members couldn’t speak english very well, so we had to repeat a few things, but that’s ok.

We didn’t order any starters – at least I didn’t to save some space for dessert, but we had some bread to start with. The wine menu is actually really good, but I can’t say anything about it, as at the moment I can’t drink, so had a sparkling water instead.

For mains, I’ve ordered the cod, which was absolutely delicious and creamy!

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He had the lamb, which was perfectly seasoned and cooked.

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The star for me was the dessert, the Fondant au chocolat. As soon as the plate arrived I could smell it already and the small was absolutely fab! I’ve managed to finish it all and I’m glad I had saved some space for it.

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He’s crazy about lemon tarts, so he ordered the tartellete au citron. Same as my one, the smell was incredible. I had a try on it and it was superb. He was quite happy about it and said it was the best he had in a long time.

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So a really good place to go for a nice relaxing dinner, either as a couple or with a small group of friends.
Le Boudin Blanc Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

.: A weekend away in a country club Wales :.

Is there anything better than a long weekend away? After my stressful week (year?) I was really looking forward to chill down and just relax.  I went to South Wales on this one, which I find is one of the best places in UK to slow down and relax surrounded by all the green scenery.  For instance I love Lake District a lot, but it just takes forever to get there, especially if we’re talking about a long weekend! I’m hoping to be back at some stage, in any random weekend to spend a few days there. South Wales is a much easier option as it’s just 2h15 from London (or 3h and a bit with the traffic on a long weekend).

The point of a weekend away tends to be to relax, and starting the weekend stuck in 6h queues isn’t a great start. Finally one that was far more relaxing! We’ve managed to reach the hotel for dinner at 08h!

The choice for the weekend was one of the Country Clubs from Marriott, St Pierre.

Photo from official website

I really like the Country Clubs because they tend to be spaces surrounded by lots of green. Is there anything better than wake up with the sound of birds and green around you? The staff at reception was really friendly and welcoming! They gave us a map of the area, which included a walk at the property and some recommendations for restaurants around.

We were allocated to one of the lakeside villas, next to the main hotel, in front of the lake and the golf course. Our building didn’t had a lakeside view, but there was a small garden, so it was ok

As you get into the house, you’ll see a small kitchen area, which would benefit from a little upgrade, but I wasn’t counting on having one, so didn’t bother me at all.

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We’ve ended up spending most of the time before going to bed here. This is where I was doing my meditation exercises too.

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Outside space… it was raining quite a lot when we arrived, but the rest of the weekend was really beautiful!

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Don’t ask me why I took a photo of the bathroom, but I did! Again would benefit for some modernisation but it was clean and functional so no complains here.

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The bed was one of the smallest I’ve seen in any Marriott. It was a normal size, it’s just I’m used to have huge beds (like 2m x 2m!)

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The main hotel area was quite a classic Marriot wise. Lots of dedicated rooms between the leisure area (which we’ve ended up not using) and the restaurants. I didn’t took any decent photos so will use the ones from the hotel

For dinner we’ve ended up going to the Zest Restaurant, as the main restaurant was already fully booked. I like the zest’s as they tend to be quite casual and relaxed (although I would advise you not to order the pizzas, I did that once, never again!)

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For my first dinner I’ve ordered the chicken lemon which was quite ok. On the 2nd night I’ve ordered the salmon salad which was a really good choice!

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with fruits for dessert

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The breakfast room (at the main restaurant) was quite busy, but the staff was really quick and efficient. We never had to wait long before our coffees would arrive. They also had poached eggs (which not all hotels have). My favourite option was the fruit!

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So overall it was quite a relaxing choice!

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Any country club you would recommend for a relaxing weekend away?

.: AirBnB Bordeaux :.

Last weekend me and my sister went for a weekend away in Bordeaux. We’ve decided that, rather than give something each other for Christmas it would be a nicer idea to do a weekend away. We still bought something to each other so we would have something to unwrap and also the idea of doing a weekend just for the 2 of us sounded really tempting. It’s been almost 10 years since we’ve done something like this.

I’ve also decided that it would be finally the time to use AirBnB. I guess the reason why I was so behind in the game is that I end up booking big chain hotels to use the points, or then trying to find a cosy B&B like the one we had in North Wales. But I was keen on trying AirBnB this time. After doing a quick search I fell in love with the stone apartments in the centre of Bordeaux. This is how I found Antoine’s

The bed area

The decor is perfect for the style of the apartment. Absolutely beautiful!

Now let’s talk about location – I couldn’t ask it to be any better than it was

Yap that’s right, in the historical centre in the middle of all nice restaurants and bars. It was just perfect!

I also had the pleasure of meeting Antoine as he was waiting for me at the apartment and he gave me really good tips of which restaurants to try in the area and what to see and do.

Something I found really surprising was that, not only I can leave the review of my stay, but I get one back as a guest as well! This is really useful information for anyone renting out flats! Good idea guys!

So overall quite pleased with my AirBnB experience, which I’ll definitely be repeating again in Japan 🙂

Have you used AirBnB before? Any experience you would like to share?

.: Japanese sweets in London :.

Apologies, I haven’t been blogging for a while but I have to admit I haven’t been feeling great this year. I haven’t really been out much not exploring around, but last weekend, with the festival of lights in town I had to go.

I’m familiar with the concept because we have it in Portugal as well, in the gorgeous town of Cascais called Lumina

So I was expecting really big things on the London version. I have to admit my expectations were too high. The light garden in Leicester Square was really nice, but I was expecting more. But the good thing was, in our mission to find one of the light spots, we’ve found a Japanese temptation in the heart of London: Minamoto Kitchoan

If you used to watch anime as a kid, you might recognise Doraemon Dorayaki’s

A Dorayaki is a sweet red bean pancake.

And this is the store’s speciality. I had to try the chocolate Moki

Minamoto Kitchoan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
So delicious! I’m sure I’ll be back more often, to prepare for my trip to Japan in April.

To keep in the mood just had Ramen for lunch and the other night I did a lovely salmon with udon noodles for dinner. It’s such a comfortable food!

Have a lovely weekend 🙂

 

.: A Prime Lunch :.

Ah, such a dark and gloomy weekend! I feel like just being lazy and stay on the couch. Very tempting indeed. Instead I’ve decided I wanted to try the fabulous place he went for his Christmas party at work (Prime at Chandlers Cross, which is very close to Watford).

I’m so glad I’ve convinced him to take me there! When we arrived it was pretty much empty, but we like that, to arrive when it’s still quiet. But that meant I could only manage a main without any starters. I loved the place immediately! Lovely decoration, very classy and comfortable at the same time. We’ve stayed at a table next to the window and the wine bottles.

Their main speciality is the meat, sourced from a royal approved butcher (how fancy is that?), so I couldn’t resist but to go for a steak. I went for the rump.

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I’ve also ordered wine. This starts to remind me the Wed. night out club at work 🙂

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Quite a sexy piece of meat, ‘init?

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The mushroom sauce was delicious as well! I couldn’t manage pudding so we’ve just ordered coffees. Coffee was really good too. I left the meal with a smile, because I’ve really enjoy it and I hope to convince him to take me back so we can share a t-bone.

Sounds like a really good first 2016 meal away 🙂

.: A Weekend away around Yorkshire – Country Club :.

During the Easter Break, and before our big trip to Japan, we’ve decided to go all the way north to Yorkshire, because it’s an area I’ve always wanted to explore but never really had the chance to. Unlike my recent trip to Wales, this was bound to be a painful journey. It started on my way from work. I left the office a bit before 15h, aiming to be at home before 16h, but the trains were cancelled so I was constantly checking on google maps on how to get home. It was raining cats and dogs too and traffic really bad, so even taking a taxi was no longer an option. I’ve made it eventually, at 16h20.

Then getting out of London took us more than 2h, stuck in traffic in the north circular road. (Long weekend + rain, worst combo in UK!) Absolutely terrible! To make matters worst I now need to make more regular breaks and can’t handle 4h in a row in the car or more as I’ve used to.

Same as last weekend, we’ve stayed in one of the Country Clubs from Marriott, Hollins Hall, which means a golf course, spa and lots of green around you. All you need to relax! We had to eat in one small service station at around 20h30, because we were no longer sure if we would reach the hotel on time. We’ve managed to arrive at around 22h30, so I was really tired. The friendly staff at the hotel was already waiting for me and made my check-in really stress free and as efficient as possible. Thank you guys! Couldn’t resist but to throw myself in bed and fall asleep. So this time I don’t have many photos

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Photos below are from the official website

The hotel is on top of a beautiful hill

Quite a bright reception

Main restaurant

The pool

The breakfast was the normal continental breakfast, but at least there were lots of fruits available. On Saturday evening we’ve managed to get a table booked for the main restaurant and I have to say I’ve really enjoyed my meal

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Mushroom risotto

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Really delicious cheesecake!

Quite a relaxing weekend even if it was a bumpy start! It felt amazing to wake up with the sound of birds and going for walks outside.

Btw happy children’s day! (In Portugal) Just notice it’s my last Children’s day, so going to celebrate and have ice cream 😀

.: Outsider Tart Chiswick and the Gift of time :.

Since it’s that time of the year that everyone is doing resolutions, I’m doing another one. (My main one back in October was to do the things I want to do rather than adding them on wishlist, e.g. my dream trip to Japan which is already booked). My 2nd one is going to be to enjoy the gift of time and actually take proper time for myself.

Simply enjoy with no rush and no timer to control me. Sit down and read the book or simply enjoy the sun on my face.

This is precisely what I’ve decided to do today. The house was filled with warm light and it was so sunny outside I simply had to go out. After searching on Zomato for nice coffees in Chiswick I found the Outsider Tart. I had seen this place probably billions of times but never had the chance to go in. This time this was my main goal.

I’m so glad I finally did it because I had a really relaxing and delicious afternoon. As soon as I got in I loved the décor immediately. From the main entrance looks like a little grocery store. There were some really tempting goods around. But I couldn’t take my eyes of the gorgeous bakery available. Seducing cakes that’s what they are. Choice was really difficult, but ended up going for a cheesecake. So yummy! Coffee was pretty good as well.

Went to sit down on the main room and took the time to relax and enjoy a book while drinking the cappuccino. The atmosphere was really relaxed. Totally recommended and now that I know about it will be back more often. I have a lot of catch up to do with the bakery, oh yeah I do.

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Outsider Tart Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

What’s your favourite bakery?

.: 2015 review (Yes another of those posts!) :.

I know and I apologise, it’s another my year review post. There are millions of them out there, mine is just another one. Yet, I couldn’t resist it. Sometimes it helps to look into the past to put things into perspective and in a way to celebrate all the little achievements.

All the posts I have been reading so far, make my life feel completely uninteresting and that I haven’t really done anything. Everyone went into amazing places and went to fancy restaurants. But, I can’t help feeling that I did the things I wanted to do and were relevant to me. If I could earn money without spending my days in the office (and carrying luggage every single week), probably I would. But then again probably I wouldn’t value every single moment as much as I do, because I don’t have that many of those.

What I’ve also realised was, while talking with friends and colleagues, it seems I’m quite determined to explore UK, whereas some of them, born in this green island haven’t seen half of it, which makes me thing that I’m not doing that bad.

This year my other half also started to do photography which meant we had a few weekends just exploring around and taking photos together. I would definitely say this was one of the milestones this year 🙂

For 2015 I had very few goals: work less, enjoy more and try to sleep in my bed most of the time. That was a fail I’m afraid. But still I have a sense of accomplishment, I’ve realised I can’t keep on waiting for the things I want, I need to cherish the moment and dare to do more and do different (e.g. went to a comic con dressed as a virgin guard from the Dictator). As for the sleep in my bed, there’s finally hope after 5 years away, at least in January will stay in London which I find hard to believe.

I’m still practising the being nice moto which I’ve started at the end of 2014, in fact I’m expanding it and ensuring I treat people with a smile (everyone by default) and I notice them. I left the hotel I’ve stayed for more than 1 and half years with a postcard signed by the staff that just made my day. I respect everyone, even more those that actually do a lot of hard-work, our society needs people willing to work rather than sit and wait for some magical benefits. I like to think everyone has a chance, one day you might be working at a small little store, the next day you might become the CEO of a successful startup. If you treat people nicely, good things will come to you as well. I’m keen to carry on doing exactly that. It’s so easy in the end!

Books read this year: 3 or 4 so massive failure

Places I’ve been in 2015

  • January: No travel, but most weekends I had something with friends, so it was quite good from a social point of view! Highlight of the month: Our first time attending a Cabaret (Thanks Zomato)
  • February: Drive for a weekend away in Lille. Even though it was raining most of the weekend, I just loved it!
  • March: Lisbon was his choice this month as it’s his birthday. He always wants to go back to Lisbon to see our friends back there. I have to say this was one of the best stays I’ve had in Lisbon and it was quite magical to watch the sunset in my sister’s zen place. Absolutely inspiring.
  • April: Easter break in Copenhagen – quite a relaxing weekend for the two of us. It was good to be away and break the routine and watch the sunset and take some nocturnal photos together, even if it too cold for that.
  • May: May was quite a month! We moved houses in just a weekend and we had an opening lunch the Monday just right after. Following weekend we went away to Cornwall just to enjoy and relax.
  • June: Had my parents over to visit my new place and took them to Sky Garden. I was pretty stressed out that day as I received a call from work and would have to cancel all my weekend. In the end I escaped and managed to enjoy the fact that they were around. Also had a lovely tea at the Maids of Honour (ahh so happy to live so close to Kew!)
  • July: We went to the Zomato party. We were feeling really shy because we didn’t knew anyone but in the end it was really good fun and something we wouldn’t normally do. Also we went to visit a Lavender field which was on my wishlist for ages.
  • August: The highlight of the month was finding a beach with fluffy sand here in UK. We felt like children running around. Had no idea how I missed fluffy sand on my feet (the perks of being a south portuguese). We also had a weekend away in Lake District, which I love and look forward to come back to.
  • September: Back to Portugal for the “summer low cost” holidays. I had the chance to take him to Porto and visit a good friend of hours. Was amazing to go back to the Port tasting. So good!
  • October: was excellent for street photography and it was the start of my Wed. Night out Club at work in Bristol. My liver wasn’t very happy even if I was!
  • November: It’s my month so I have the chance of selecting the place I want to visit this year. This year decided it was time to visit the big apple, because everyone else I know has been there and I was curious to be able to compare it against London. It was better than I expected! People were really nice and actually felt quite peaceful, especially walking around the Central Park (sorry Hyde Park, but this is far better)
  • December: We went for a weekend away in Snowdania – North Wales (his choice), although it was spot on the storm weekend, so we didn’t enjoy anything outdoors, but we’ve agreed to be back.

Looking forward to 2016, not because I expect it will be far better than this year, but because it’s my chance to do different and continuing doing all the things I’ve enjoyed this year 🙂

What was your best moment of 2015? Any special learning you would like to share?

.: Flat Iron :.

I had Flat Iron on my wishlist for a while now ever since I’ve read the reviews (they were consistently positive).

Flat iron is a cut from the chunk, so not from the premium places like rib or sirloin, but I can tell you is for sure full of flavour. I’m glad it’s quite overlooked so it becomes a tasty and affordable piece of meat.

I had Flat iron for the first time in the hotel, as it was one of the deals of the day and was quite surprised by the flavour, so after reading the reviews on Flat Iron I had to try it.

Running away from all the Christmas shoppers we’ve decided now it was the perfect time to go. It’s really easy to find and I’m glad it’s far enough from Convent Garden so it becomes quiet.

As soon as we arrive, we were immediately guided to a spacious table, even though we were still missing our friend (some places want to ensure everyone has arrived before they allow you to sit). The menu is really straightforward, you just need to select the drinks, how you want your flat iron cooked and which sides you want. Also note that there is always a special beer as well as potentially 2 other main dishes. In today’s visit we had the burger as well and another cut, but I really wanted flat iron.12360275_10206281589053416_7647525359604417687_n

The flat iron is served with a side salad, which is actually quite tasty. We’ve also ordered the cream spinach, the fries and the aubergine. All really tasty

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But the star was really the meat. Look at it

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So yummy and juicy! Could it all again just by looking at it. I’ve ordered medium rare and it was served exactly medium rare (which most of you will agree doesn’t always happen).

Absolutely delicious! So we’ve ended up having a relaxed lunch, really good quality and affordable prices (and in London!). So yes indeed I’ll be back

Flat Iron Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We’ve ended up not having a dessert, although it was quite tempting, because we all had a special place we had to go back. If anywhere near of Denmark Street I couldn’t miss the opportunity to go back to I Love Nata. I love those pasteis de nata and the coffee is good as well.

This time I’ve ordered 2 of them, no regrets!

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Don’t forget to add the cinnamon on top!

I Love Nata Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So overall a great lunch! Any recent discovery you would like to share?

.: Exploring Coffee – CRU capsules :.

For those of you that follow me for a while you will know I’m crazy for coffee. I would say coffee is one of the things I crave the most, more than spaghetti (hum… though choice here) or more than Gin tonics.

And I don’t crave coffee because of the caffeine – actually I wish coffee would work in that sense for me – but it’s really about the smell and the flavour.

Legend says when I was very very small I was already craving for coffee, but was only allowed to taste a drop of it with milk. That’s me right there and my great-grandad (ohhh I miss you!)

Moreover, I grew up in a coffee culture, and by coffee I mean Italian way.

This is coffee for me (I love coffee in a glass or in a ceramic cup)

This is black tea (aka americano)

My favourite coffee (espresso) will be very short, creamy, strong and tasty and no sugar or milk added. In UK, I mostly drink cappuccinos because I don’t like the flavour and that’s the option with less milk or a macchiatto.

Did you know that: in some parts of Portugal we order coffee by asking for a cimbalino, which comes from the first modern coffee machines Cimbali?

My favourite coffee brand is the Delta (portuguese)

Love the morning coffee with Nicola (which also produce nespresso compatible capsules)

Best international brand for me is illy’s (and has nothing to do with my name, well…. after all I have 2 coffee names: Lilly & Costa)

The best coffee I had in UK so far (or let’s say the first) was at Boston Tea Party in Bristol, in London was probably Flat White . I’m actually quite happy to notice that the coffee culture in UK is changing and it’s no longer just about starbucks or terrible water from the office machines (the worst coffee I ever had was in the office in Watford, although the american airlines coffee even beats that!). So I have lots to explore. I’ll be doing dedicated sections in the blog about coffee places.

This time, however, want to go back to drink coffee at home. As per above, one of the first things I bought in UK was my Nespresso machine and the lovely aeroccino.

I’ve been a fan of the concept since it started. I was actually quite surprised that there were no boutique stores in UK when I moved (whereas in Portugal there are loads of them). Now there are a few in London. It’s so simple and convenient! Although what I find is that I miss the chance to explore all the different coffees available if you had a more traditional machine. But even that is changing! There are more varieties available now. In Portugal for instance, even the supermarkets have their own brands and machines. In UK there are small companies entering this market as well.

One of them is CRU. I don’t really remember how I found them, probably through advertisement on facebook. But I remember I really loved the concept so I’ve applied for the demo box which arrived a few weeks back. Loved it! Really tasty coffee! Today I just received my first order.

Love the message on the box “we might not be quite attractive as George, but we definitely taste better“. Brilliant!

The capsules are 100% recyclable. The coffee itself is a good compost

Obviously, couldn’t wait to prepare morning coffee 🙂

As someone said, life is too short for bad coffee and I couldn’t agree more!

How do you like your coffee? What’s the best one you ever had?