Wednesday, 22 February 2017

I came back from Berlin two days ago and, to my disappointment, I didn't end up having as many pictures as souvenirs as I would have liked to. It was raining a lot which meant we mostly hid inside cafes, restaurants and bars and so I didn't get to snap as much as I perhaps thought I would. I didn't even get to take pictures of all of the food I ate (tragic!) but as I did manage to photograph about half of them, I thought I'd put together a sort of guide to a few foodie spots I loved in Berlin.

(Useful) tip: Book, book, book! We were very lucky because we managed to get tables in places that were really full (the people that came after us were turned away on two separate occasions!), but we also missed out on one breakfast spot we wanted to visit because they didn't have any space. Berlin is full of lovely restaurants, and they are there for a reason - Berliners love dining out. So yes, whenever you can, I would recommend trying to book a table - especially on weekends.




BREAKFAST

Spreegold

Spreegold is a small chain of restaurants serving everything from breakfast to dinner, and they cover all those bases very thoroughly. They have a massive breakfast menu with egg dishes, sweet options, breakfast "stacks" and so much more. They also have a long list of drinks with juices and smoothies as well as the more traditional hot drinks such as the lovely fresh mint tea that I went for.

Me and my friend both went for a breakfast stack - she for the avocado one with a poached egg and me for the vegan option with slices of smoky tofu with sesame seeds & lovely, mushy avocado. I think it's safe to say we both really enjoyed our breakfasts, and I was actually very pleasantly surprised with mine as I'm not always the biggest fan of tofu. Here it somehow worked really well and I would happily recommend it - although be warned that the avocado is more like guacamole, so if that's too much for you in the morning, maybe try out one of their other (many) options!

Allan's Breakfast Club

This is the one place that we stumbled on to pretty much randomly. Our plan was to visit another breakfast spot close by, but as it was completely full (hence my warning above!) we started wandering the nearby streets of Prentzlauer Berg and in the end found this lovely little gem.

Allan's Breakfast Club (or ABC for short) is a brunch spot, a restaurant and a wine bar run by a Frenchman called - unsurprisingly - Allan. The brunch menu is very extensive, ranging from the classics like Eggs Benedict to more exotic dishes such as Shakshuka, which is what I went for (and loved). The food was really lovely, the portions very generous and the service super friendly and efficient. Much recommended!



LUNCH/DINNER

Transit

This was the first place we visited after I'd arrived and oh my, what a place to start! Transit is a Southeast Asian restaurant, and the idea is to choose 2-3 little dishes and then share (or greedily keep them to yourselves as we did..!) with your friends. All except two of the dishes can be ordered with tofu which makes this place very vegetarian friendly too.

I had a green curry which was one of the best ones I've had in a very long time, and a yellow curry with sweet potato which was really lovely too - just the right amount of sweet! I only had two dishes and a one portion of rice and I'd say it was definitely enough, unless you really are monstrously hungry!

Kanaan

This was possibly one of my absolute favourites of the whole trip, but also one of the biggest disappointments. It was a favourite because the food was ridiculously good, but a disappointment because as we visited on a Sunday evening they had ran out of pretty much everything. We would've wanted to order a bit more after we'd finished our sharing platter, but they had absolutely nothing left. I just wanted to leave that here as a bit of a warning in case you're interested in visiting (which you absolutely should!) - maybe go during Friday or Saturday instead, and again, remember to book because this place seemed really popular too, even on a Sunday night.

As they didn't have the things we originally wanted to order, we went with the Sambusak (I think that's what it was called, anyway!) which was recommended to us by our lovely waitress. It was basically a big pastry full of veggies and mushrooms on a bed of hummus and a lovely side salad. I probably wouldn't have picked it from the menu on my own, but I'm so glad it was recommended to us because I absolutely loved it. I can't wait to go back to Berlin and try out their other dishes too - there's so much I still want to try!

Kimchi Princess

Kimchi Princess is a very atmospheric restaurant in the up and coming (or so I'm told!) Kreutzberg area serving Korean food ranging from bibimpaps to big Korean BBQ sharing platters. My friend actually wanted to go there for the latter, but turns out they only do the BBQ section of the menu after 5pm and because we met up for lunch this was not an option for us. However, she said that the platters are incredibly good, so if you do end up here during the evening, maybe try them out! They also have vegan BBQ platter which is pretty amazing.

We both had bibimbaps for lunch in the end - my friend the beef one and I the vegan one which came with tofu. The bibimbap is served in a sizzling dish where the food stays hot the entire time and is still cooking when it's brought to you. It's served with a miso soup which you're meant to pour into the bibimbap if it gets too dry or too spicy. You wouldn't think a soup would go well with a spicy rice dish, but they were a surprisingly good combination! I'd love to go back and try out their other dishes too - maybe in the evening so I can sample the vegan BBQ as it sounds very tempting.



DESSERT

Kauf Dich Glücklich

I couldn't end this post without a dessert recommendation, could I?! I know I've mentioned before that I'm not the biggest dessert person in the world, but I have to say that waffles are definitely one of the exceptions to this rule. Kauf Dich Glücklich is a lovely and cosy cafe/bar/shop serving both savoury and sweet waffles, as well as hot drinks and COCKTAILS!

The waffle was really good, and the one I had was actually vegan too - win win! They had about 5-6 vegan options, from which I chose the maple syrup one - of course - and then had a lovely rum cocktail to accompany it. Aside from the vegan options they had so many other choices too - there was literally (yes, actually literally) a whole blackboard full of them. One thing I would say though is that the portions are absolutely HUGE, so if possible, it might be a good idea to share - especially if you're already a bit full and have a tendency to feel ill from too much sugar. If not, however, just go for a full one - you definitely deserve it after all that walking around in a new city..!

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Saturday, 18 February 2017



BRIGHTON
How long to get there? From 55 minutes to 1.5 hours
Notable sights: Brighton Beach, Royal Pavilion and the Brighton Pier
Where to eat & drink? VIP Pizza & The Mesmerist
Where to shop? North Laine

Brighton is almost like a mini London, only by the sea, which, in my eyes, makes any place 100% better anyway. It's a small-ish city with approximately 300,000 residents, but considering how much there is to do it feels a lot bigger. Brighton is known as a very vibrant and bohemian city, and it's also the only place in the UK that has elected a Green MP.

The city's greenness is also quite apparent when looking at all the local business in the streets - there are lots of organic shops, second hand clothes stores and vegetarian/vegan restaurants - there is even a vegan leather shoe store!




MANCHESTER
How long to get there? 2 hours and 10 minutes
Notable sights: John Rylands Library, Heaton Park
Where to eat & drink? Rudy's, Yard & Coop & Terrace NQ
Where to shop? Record and vintage shops in Northern Quarter

I first visited Manchester about 7-8 years ago, and while I only spent 2 days there, I completely fell in love and have been wanting to return ever since. I finally went back last summer and it was every bit as wonderful as I had remembered.

For me Manchester will always be a music city, as I'm sure it is for a lot of others too. A lot of my favourite artists have come from here and so I have always thought that a city that has given us Oasis, The Stone Roses and The Smiths (and all of those other greats!) has to be something pretty special. I haven't had as much time to explore Manchester as I would have liked to, but just from spotting quite a few record shops and music venues on the streets makes me think that that spirit is still very much alive!




ST ALBANS
How long to get there? 30 to 45 minutes
Notable sights: St Albans Cathedral, roman ruins at Verulamium
Where to eat & drink? 23 George Street, Beech House & The Pudding Stop
Where to shop? The traditional street market every Wednesday and Saturday

St Albans is my new favourite London escape as it takes less than an hour to get there and yet feels like miles and miles away from the capital. The city is well known for its many historic features, as well as its gorgeous cathedral and great eating and drinking opportunities - I can definitely vouch for all of these myself!

The most breathtaking sight is, of course, the cathedral which beautifully dominates the cityscape. The surrounding park is also well worth a stroll - it's also where I saw possibly the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen in my life! After you've exhausted the cathedral and its grounds, it might be a good idea to go grab something to eat, and, luckily, at St Albans, you've got ALL the options. For a small city like this, I was very surprised how much choice there was when it came to eating out and going for a drink - I don't think I've ever seen so many pubs in one place..! So basically, if you like history, food and a drink (alcoholic or not!) you'll probably love St Albans. And who doesn't love all of those things?




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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

As I've been getting really into Instagram lately, I thought it would be a nice idea to share some of the London adventures I've had recently that never made it over to the blog. There's a tiiiiny possibility I might have also come up with this idea because I forgot to take my camera with me last weekend and hence got absolutely no pictures for new content... IRREGARDLESS, I hope you enjoy this and manage to get some London-y inspiration for your next days off!



NEW LONDON CAFE (picture 1)

I met my friend for a late brunch one Sunday a few weeks ago and I have to confess - I was extremely hungover. This level of nausea and headache combination happens very little nowadays (thank god for that!) so I didn't quite know what to do with myself. Food, combined with the company of a good friend and some fresh air seemed like the right thing to do, so I dragged myself out of bed and headed for brunch.

We ended up in the New London Cafe in Highbury which was a new discovery for both of us, but the menu sounded so promising we wanted to give it a try. It wasn't mindblowingly good or innovative, but it was just what I needed at that specific moment. I had the Mediterranean breakfast with lots of fresh veggies, fried peppers and halloumi, and I think it definitely cured me a little bit. My breakfast also had fried eggs and sausages (I switched mine to veggie) but for me it was all about the fresh stuff - sausages just felt a bit too heavy for my fragile state!

I'd give the place 3/5 stars - it wasn't anything special but it did the trick and had something for everyone. Their berry smoothie was also very good and refreshing so make sure to try that out too if you do go!

BRICK LANE (picture 2)

I used to visit Brick Lane pretty religiously - it was the best place to spend a Sunday afternoon (it's basically surrounded by food - what else do you need on a lazy Sunday?). I don't really know why I stopped going, but I'm very happy I've recently rediscovered it!

We went with my friend a few weeks ago, and even though the weather was absolutely miserable, it was so much fun. I think it might have actually been a good thing that it was a bit grey and rainy as there were definitely less people than on my previous visits! I just love the colourful street art, the vintage shops, and most of all, ALL of the street food stalls that are dotted around the street and the surrounding area. The Rough Trade shop is also always a must visit - don't forget to take your pictures in the photo automat before you go!

GOODGE STREET (pictures 3-6)

I've already written a post about my love for Charlotte Street and Fitzrovia, but I wanted to give a quick special mention for Goodge Street too because it's full of so many amazing little restaurants, pubs and cafes, all ranging from chain places to lovely independents.

I spent a lot of time here, and have recently fallen in love with the new Fabrique, the outside seating area of Dickie Fitz (best for people watching!) and eaten my weight in tapas in Barrica. If you're ever in need of a place to eat or drink in central London I'd strongly recommend to head here, as even though the pubs are very full on Fridays, the atmosphere totally makes up for it - at least when the weather gets a bit better and standing outside won't be so bad!

PS. My Instagram is middleofadventure in case you'd like to take a look!

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Saturday, 11 February 2017

Let's continue with the Brixton theme a little while longer, shall we?

Coldharbour Lane's Nanban has been on my must-visit list for a long time. It's a Japanese restaurant by Tim Anderson, the winner of Master Chef 2011 and was also voted the best restaurant in Brixton last year. With all of these credentials, combined with a great menu, it was a place I knew I needed wanted to visit.



Nanban's menu is divided into a few different sections; there's your typical big dishes like ramens and curries but you'll also find a selection of little dishes where the recommendation is to choose two of three depending on your hunger levels. I'd had a massive breakfast on the day we visited, so I decided to try out two dishes first and then order more if I felt the need.

It turns out two dishes was just the perfect amount for how I was feeling, but if I had been really hungry I think three would have been the optimal amount. That, or a bowl of hearty ramen which is definitely my first stop on the next really grey, rainy day. Knowing the British weather, I probably won't have to wait for that too long...





Our "Japanese tapas" spread - looks SO good, doesn't it?


My first dish was this amazing invention, called 'KFJ' aka Kentucky fried jackfruit, which, of course, is a veggie version of the famous chicken dish. It was served with a honey-miso mayonnaise and I seriously can't decide which I liked more - the dip or the actual dish! Maybe it was the combination... Whatever it was, I would wholeheartedly recommend trying them out!


My other dish was this lovely sweet and mushy sweet potato (my first time trying out the white variety!) which was served with ponzu butter and black sesame salt which were just the perfect compliments for the sweetness of the dish.

Aside from the food, I also really loved the decor of the restaurant. The walls downstairs were filled with Japanese records and road signs where the upstairs was decorated with vibrant blue sofas & beautifully patterned tables. There were lots of thought put into the space and to all the little details which is something that I love to see in a restaurant. The food comes first, of course, but a good atmosphere and decor is a close second! Nanban ticked both boxes which is why I'll definitely be going back - next time for the ramen!

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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

I've lived in and around of Brixton for the past three years now and I'm seriously infatuated - I'm so happy we've managed to make our little home here. It's the first place I've lived where I didn't feel the need to leave the area in order to find a decent restaurant, bar or shopping opportunities - it's all here. I love spending my days wandering around the area, trying out all the new places that are constantly opening up - there's so much to do!

I like doing these little area guides, but often it can be a little difficult to offer a comprehensive picture of an area if you don't know it that well. However, after three years, I think I'll finally be able to write you a guide that will cover a lot, if not all, of the bases - I hope it'll be helpful!



BRIXTON MARKETS

Brixton has a lot of markets. From street stalls selling fresh veggies and fruits to the Village & Market Row's many restaurants and independent shops, there's so much to choose from. Electric Avenue is probably the more conventional, and probably the most "authentic" of them all. It's full of stalls selling fresh fish, fruits and vegetables as well as clothes and all sorts of things you might need for your home such as cleaning and kitchen supplies. Electric Avenue is known for many through the Eddy Grant song (this definitely starts playing in my head every time I walk past the street..!) but it's also famous for being the first market street to be lit by electricity - as you might have guessed from the name!

Very close to Electric Avenue you'll find Brixton Market Row & Brixton Village. They are a collection of little rows filled with cafes, restaurants and bars, as well as even more fishmongers and butchers dotted in. There are also quite a few Afro-Caribbean supermarkets which I love for finding ingredients in - their spice selections are so good!

I'd love to one day say that I've tried all of the restaurants in here, but I'm not sure it will ever happen - there are just SO many! My favourite is a Mexican restautant called Casa Morita - their food is super yummy and the atmosphere is always great. Casa Morita and most of the other restaurant in Brixton Village & Market Row are always really busy so go early or be prepared to queue - especially for weekend brunches & dinners!

Pop Brixton is possibly my personal favourite of all of the markets, especially during the summer time. It's a little bit similar to Boxpark in a way that it's made out of shipping containers and each container has one restaurant (or shop - there's a few shops too!) in it. There's lots of choice, and I really like going here as you can take a few friends and even if you're not all after the same cuisine, you can always just all choose a different restaurant and still eat together in the communal tables in the middle. There's also a few small sit down restaurants such as Zoe's Ghana Kitchen which is excellent but most places don't have their own seating area. My favourite vendors are Made of Dough, Baba G's and Maria Sabina.




EAT

I've covered a lot of food recommendations already as you really can't go wrong by choosing something from one of the markets - I can certainly vouch for at least Kao Sarn, Seven at Brixton & the aforementioned Casa Morita. But there are so many foodie spots in Brixton even after you've exhausted the markets and the nearby Coldharbour Lane and its neighbouring streets are definitely a goldmine when it comes to good restaurants. I would recommend The Lounge for lovely salads and burgers, Three Eight Four for delicious little plates (take the jalapeño wontons - they are so good!) and Mamma Dough pizzeria a bit further along the road towards Loughborough Junction.

In recent years Brixton has also got its fair share of chain restaurants which many see as a big sign of the continuing gentrification of the area. Whatever you think of them, you've definitely now got your fair share - there's the bigger chains like Wahaca and Cabana as well the smaller ones such as The Rum Kitchen (their rainbow salad is one of my favourites!), Dirty Burger and The Blues Kitchen.




DRINK

Brixton has a lot of bars - a lot! It gets very busy during Friday and Saturday nights, and I personally prefer the smaller and quieter places (how old does that make me sound?!), but there's also lot's of party places if you're that way inclined. POW (or Prince of Wales) is one of the biggest and they have a rooftop bar which is pretty much open throughout the year and looks very cool. They host a variety of club nights, and the music they play is usually along the lines of old school hip hop, r'n'b and house. Prince of Wales also has a pub on the street level in case you're not quite ready for the club just yet!

One of my favourite places for a drink is definitely The Wine Parlour on the corner of Atlantic Road and Vining Street - it's the cosiest little wine bar. I don't pretend to know much about wine, but this is why this place is so great - the staff really know their stuff and will happily help you to choose the perfect wine if you're feeling a little lost. I love this place on dark rainy days when it feels like a true escape from the real world, but, they do also have a lovely little courtyard which makes it a perfect place to while away summer afternoons too.

Other places I love are Three Little Birds for amazing Jamaican fare and delicious rum cocktails, The Market House for cosy sofas and old school music and The Junction for live jazz and board games a bit further away in Loughborough Junction (but well worth the short bus trip!). Also, I know it's not quite summer yet, but when it does come, you should definitely go to the lovely and massive beer garden in the Duke of Edinburgh pub. They also do yummy burgers - I can't wait for sunny days so I can go back!



SHOP

Unless you want something specific, it's really not necessary to leave Brixton if you want to go shopping. It has it's share of chains such as New Look, H&M and Foot Locker, as well as the lovely Morley's stocking different popular brands such as Topshop and Warehouse, but also everything from homeware and interior stuff to make up and skincare. Morley's is definitely a Brixton institute, and well worth a visit!

My favourites, however, are the lovely little independent shops dotted around the markets and Coldharbour Lane. My absolute number one is probably Turpentine which has a colourful selection of gifts, prints (they have the most beautiful hand drawn map of London which I'm seriously lusting over!) and jewellery. Other great little shops are Omnis for handmade design pieces and vintage clothes, Diverse for, well, a diverse selection of unique gifts and art and Sugar + Style for a well curated selection of clothes and accessories. These shops are all in Coldharbour Lane, but like I mentioned, there are a lots more to discover in the markets too - there's especially a lot of vintage (and vintage inspired) shops to rummage through there!





I feel like I could still ramble on for ages and ages, but I think I have to end this post at some point.. I keep thinking of places I want to mention, but if I talk about all of them, you will be here until next year. Maybe I'll make Vol 2 at some point - there's still so much for me to explore!

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