April Newsletter – Favourite New Places and Products To Try
Spring is finally springing so here’s a round-up of my latest explorations of products and new places to try including a super hydrating mask, coconut jam, Tefal’s new pots and a musical. There’s a little bit of something for everyone!
Gastrovino @ Bar8 – Chelsea
Halfway down the King’s Road in Chelsea is a fabulous Italian restaurant – Bar8 at Gastrovino. With bare brick walls, warm timbers and big store front windows to sit and watch the locals glide by in their posh cars, this place is gorgeous. It reminds me of afternoons spent lazily enjoying very long lunches on the Italian piazzas, if only the weather would play ball. Making the most of seasonal produce and with a real flair for reinventing traditional dishes is head chef Andrea Pesenti, previously of Mele and Pere in Soho. With a selection of sharing boards and small plates there is a good variety of dishes to choose from. There is a weekly rotating ‘wine-by-the-glass’ list (as well as by the bottle) and the service is authentically Italian, read ‘friendly and welcoming’. To read the full review click here
Chi Kitchen by Masterchef 2014 Winner Ping Coombes
Masterchef is easily one of the most popular cookery competitions on television. I am always curious to find out what happens after the final credits have finished rolling. The intensely competed Masterchef 2014 season was eventually won by former hotel manager Ping Coombes. Fast forward 2 years and Ping is now heading up the amazing Chi Kitchen in Debenhams flagship store on Oxford St and is about to publish her latest cookbook.
On a lovely spring evening I had the opportunity to visit Chi Kitchen, meet Ping Coombes herself and try some delicious pan-Asian cuisine. Located on the ground floor of Debenhams with its own street entrance as well as store access, it is a bright, light, modern restaurant surrounded on 2 sides by floor to ceiling windows and an open kitchen. Chi means ‘energy’ and the thought process in choosing the name for the restaurant was to give the customer great food and positive energy. To read the full review click here
Yumi Izakaya – Shaftesbury Avenue
Most people head straight to Chinatown if they want to dine Asian-style in central London but if you go a 2 minute walk onto Shaftesbury Avenue you’ll find Yumi Izakaya, a Japanese restaurant attached to the Piccadilly West End Hotel. The dishes are mainly small, sharing plates with a few larger plates thrown in for good measure. Think tapas but Asian. I tried a selection from the menu and the dishes I liked the most were the Braised Aubergine and Pork & Ginger Gyoza. I also had a very quaffable Grand Hacienda Sauvignon Blanc. The wine list contains one offering each of the most popular styles of wine so there should be something for everyone. Alas I cant comment on the sake, I didn’t have any on this visit, probably for the best as I had another appointment. For central London the food pricing is average although I thought the larger dishes at £15 were a bit steep considering Chinatown is next door. It’s not the largest of restaurants but the staff were very conscientious, friendly and knowledgeable of the food.
Tefal Ingenio Range Of Saucepans
Ingenio is the perfect name for Tefal’s best yet range of pans. With a space-saving detachable handle and pots that can go from stovetop to oven to fridge, they really are ingenious. I recently had the opportunity to go to a professional kitchen and try out these Tefal pots, cooking up a street food feast at L’Atelier des Chefs in London. The Tefal brand has long been a stalwart in my kitchen due to it’s durability and quality despite my attempts at experimental cooking. I’ve destroyed quite a few other brand pans, mostly down to burning sugar, and so have been left with an array of mismatched, incomplete sets taking up lots of space in my cupboards. The Ingenio range is therefore like a breath of fresh air in my kitchen (and my cupboards!). Read the full review here
Buko Organic Coconut Jam
We’ve had the coconut water, we’ve had the coconut oil, now its time for them to move over, there’s a new kid on the block – coconut jam! Widely loved around Asia, this new spread has now reached the UK. I call it a spread because it’s more like a cross between a Nutella/Vegemite consistency rather than a free-flowing jam. I wasn’t so sure about this as I don’t enjoy sweet things on toast so I asked my followers and I had a lot of replies, all in the affirmative, they like it. I would and did however use this in a smoothie – banana, pineapple juice and and the seasalt version. It was delicious. I reckon it would also be a good addition to your baking/icings. There are 3 varieties in the range – Original, Seasalt and Chocolate, it’s environmentally conscious as well. Working in conjunction with Cuipo every jar sold saves a square metre of rainforest, that’s gotta be a great thing!
Godiva Chocolates 90th Anniversary Edition
On May 1st Godiva celebrated it’s 90th anniversary by launching a limited edition Gold Collection made up of the most iconic chocolates for each of the last 9 decades. To say they are divine is a given, Godiva are well-known for their delicious combinations. The box includes favourites like Signature Lait (1939), Couer Blanc (1945) and Azteque (1992). The latest addition for the collection is the Egerie Noir – a delicious blend of raspberry ganache, rose petals and dark chocolate, one of my favourites! The vibrant, decorative box was designed by Renowned Belgian artist Oli B, taking his inspiration from celebratory fireworks I think it looks gorgeous. They say that sharing is caring but I think I’m going to keep these in my secret hiding place in the cupboards, these are for me and a movie on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Ark Hydration Injection Masque
As the weather gets warmer our skin invariably gets drier. We all try to drink the required amount of water to re-hydrate but sometimes you need that extra boost. Step up Ark’s Hydration Injection Masque. A nice light consistency, it went on easily and is suitable for all age ranges. It cleverly comes with a guide as to how long you leave the mask on depending on how old you are. 5 mins for teens to twenties, 10 for thirties to forties and 20 mins for fifties and over. It can also be used as an intensive overnight masque. I went for 10 minutes and afterwards my skin felt not only hydrated but smoother as well. There was a slight redness to my skin but having worked in the skincare world for many years previously, it just showed me that the masque had penetrated where it needed to. All in all, a great mask for all ages.
Thai Siam Health and Beauty – Finchley
On the Finchley Road is this salon offering authentic Thai massages and treatments. I was here to experience my first ever Thai massage. I am a qualified therapist myself so I see things a little differently when it comes to treatments. I have a tendency to count and name strokes whilst on the table, not very relaxing! I have always been a little intimidated to get a Thai massage as I know from previous clients in my days at Harrods that they can be a bit painful. I was looking forward to trying it though. My therapist was a lovely lady who ensured I was comfortable and adjusted her pressure to suit my requirements. I had the full body 60 minute treatment and I swear I came out a couple of inches taller by the end. As well as the regular massage you would expect, there was a variety of stretches of limbs going on. I enjoyed it and would have one again. The premises were extremely clean and inviting, the staff were friendly and the value for money was excellent. A winner all around.
Aldwych Theatre – Beautiful the Music
Many people with be familiar with Carole King but many wont know that she was well-known before being a solo singer. Beautiful is the untold story of Carole King’s journey from schoolgirl to superstar. Revealing how she met her song-writing husband Gerry Goffin, with whom she wrote many recognisable hits from the 60’s/70’s, to the stormy relationship that followed and her leap to becoming a singer herself. This is a combination between a play and a musical, so not a ‘traditional’ musical. You’ll recognise many, if not all, of the songs and be uplifted by her eventual triumph over many obstacles. The theatre is a gorgeous setting in itself. I love looking around at the intricate architraving and mouldings on the ceiling and walls. Our seats were well-appointed and comfortable and the bar staff were quick to serve during the interval so there was time to sit and catch up with friends. A fun evening out that lives up to the rave reviews by the hard-copy critics.