Sunday, 23 April 2017

This post comes to you a bit late, but better late than never, right? I overestimated myself thinking I could edit, upload and post all these pictures last Sunday whilst still on holiday, when, in reality, all I wanted to do was lay on the sofa and eat Easter sweets. So, I let myself off the hook, and postponed these pictures for a week - I'm sure you don't mind!

I haven't been in Finland in April in about four years and I had definitely managed to forget how cold it can still be. England had lulled me into a false sense of security that Spring had actually properly arrived everywhere in the world, but it seemed like Finland had other ideas in mind... Instead of green trees I got snow - lots of snow! - and very cold, albeit beautifully sunny, days. Having been away for so long, I couldn't remember if that was a normal thing to happen mid-April, but everyone else seemed equally confused too so I guess it was quite extreme - even for Finland!

I also hadn't celebrated Easter with my family for four years, and whilst it wasn't a holiday I particularly missed celebrating, it was surprisingly nice to see all the familiar decorations and traditions come to life. I snapped a few pictures of our Easter-y house as I thought it was looking very cute - especially all those little bunnies!











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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

I went for a quick holiday to my home town Helsinki last week and managed to squeeze in quite a few restaurant visits!

All of these places serve amazing vegan and veggie options, but they are also great if you're a meat eater or a veggie dining out with non-veggies. There's so many different types of options in each place, which means everyone can (probably) find something that they like.

Enjoy! I'm getting hungry again just looking at all this food...



PUTTE'S

Kalevankatu 6, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

After having dinner at Putte's last week I'm now convinced that they do the best pizza in Helsinki.

The pizzas have this amazingly thin and crispy base that stays together really well, plus a lot of innovative topping combinations such as ALL the local Finnish cheeses and North African spices mixed with pulled oats (an alternative to pulled pork!).

I went in thinking they only served one kind of vegan pizza (my favourite, the lovely marinara), but to my surprise they also had another one on their daily specials list. I'm not sure if one of their specials will always be vegan, but I do hope so because the one I ended up having was so good.

The vegan daily special (aptly named Meat is Murder) had lots of amazing toppings - the dough was topped with yummy marinara sauce, some kind of magical herb butter and nutritional yeast, and then finished off with a generous handful of rocket. The finished product was so good that I polished off the entire pizza in a matter of minutes. Please go if you get the chance!


FRIENDS & BRGRS

Mikonkatu 8, 00100 Helsinki

The fact that Friends & Brgrs had a vegan option at all was a bit of a surprise to me. It's a small chain of slightly posher fast food restaurants serving burgers, fries and milkshakes, but before I knew better I thought it was just another dirty, meaty, McDonalds-type place. Luckily it turned out that I was pretty wrong!

I went in expecting to maybe find one vegetarian option, but, as you might have guessed already, next to the token veggie burger they also happened to do a vegan option - yay! You can also get your burger on gluten free bread, and all their meat patties are gluten free as well.

My burger came with a vegan patty, onions, rocket, tomatoes and vegan aioli. You could also add other toppings for a small surcharge starting with 50 cents - I added jalapenos which added the perfect kick to the burger.

You can order the burger on its own or as a meal with drinks and fries. I would definitely urge you to go for the meal as the fries are amazing. They are handmade, perfectly salted AND triple cooked. I'm actually dreaming of them right now!



TAMARIN

Mannerheimintie 14, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

This is the only place out of this list that I was already familiar with before. Tamarin already had a few branches around Helsinki when I lived there, and it seems to be one of the few things that haven't changed.

The branch I always seem to go to is probably also the least "cosy" as it's part of a shopping centre bang on in the centre of the city. This might make it a bit more noisy and chain like, but it's also why it's one of the best options for food if you're on a bit of a shopping spree and need a bite to eat.

I went for, as I always do, the veggie green curry. I've had it before, so I knew what to expect, and I didn't have to be disappointed this time either. It's not the best green curry I've ever had, but it does the trick very nicely, and the portion is very generous too. Also, just a little heads up: in the menu the curry is marked with 3 chillies which means it should be super spicy, but I didn't think it was that bad at all - it's the probably made for the Nordic tastebuds!

The menu says that any dish in the menu can be had as a vegan version, but you just have to ask, as otherwise they might add fish sauce to it. This means there's SO much to choose from, which makes this place such a great option for your mid-shopping food needs!

Have you been to Helsinki? If not, what are you waiting for?!

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Friday, 14 April 2017

One of my favourite little "London secrets" is Camden Passage in Angel. Sure, many Londoners are probably aware of it by now, but due to its easily missable location, I imagine there must be quite a few who've walked past it without even knowing about it. So I had to shine the light - otherwise I'd feel way too guilty for keeping it to myself!

Camden Passage is a short street, or passage, just a few minutes walk away from Angel station. It hides behind Upper Street, and hosts a variety of independent shops, lots of cafes and restaurants as well as one very famous pub. But more on those a little bit later..!




MARKET

Camden Passage has a lovely little market, with main days being Wednesdays and Saturdays. These little market stalls focus heavily on antiques, but there's also a quite a big selection of vintage clothing and other second hand items. If you can't find anything you fancy from the market stalls, there's also lots of vintage shops on the street where you can continue your search.

It's not all just old stuff though. The market is divided into four areas, and each of them has their own specialty. So if you can't find what you're looking for straight away, keep looking - it might still be out there!

SHOPS

As I mentioned earlier, Camden Passage is especially known for its vintage clothes and antiques shops. If that's what you're after, you might want to try Annie's Vintage at number 12. They have such a cool collection, and you can expect to find anything from lacy petticoats to parasols and sequin tops. The sky is the limit, basically!

Other great places to visit are David Griffith's for antique furniture, Fat Faced Cat for even more women and men's vintage and Kevin Page Oriental Art for Chinese porcelain and Japanese ceramics all the way for the 1700s. Not something you see every day!

If you're on the look out for something a bit more modern, you might enjoy Smug which sells really cool stationary stuff, plants (who doesn't love plants!), homeware and lots of other things too. Plus, the shop is really pretty, so there's that as well...





COFFEE BREAK

Camden Passage is an amazing place to have a little coffee break. It's a short little street, but it packs an impressive amount of coffee shops - I guess they know that people like their caffeine and something sweet when they're doing all that shopping and wandering around the markets!

The Coffee Works Project is a lovely little independent cafe with three branches in London. They pride themselves by offering locally produced food and the (in their opinion) best coffees and teas available. I can vouch for the teas - I had the rooibos and while it didn't blow my mind (can it ever?!), it was very good and I would definitely have it again. I can't have coffee myself, but I did see it being made and a lot of care was put to the process so I'm sure it's pretty great too.

Appestat is a lovely little coffee house, but it's also a pop up gallery (of course it is) and they host a variety of events too. At the moment they are advertising a supper club residency in July, where you can book tickets here. The next one is a Syrian kitchen including dishes like halloumi filled pastry and lentil soup - sounds pretty yummy!

Other places worth trying out is the Austrian coffee house Kipferl which will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth with its sweet pastries, and Le Coq Epicier which is techincally a shop selling French produce (Wine! Macarons! Wine!) but they also have a few tables outside where you can immediately enjoy your purchases in the sunshine.

THAT FAMOUS PUB

Finally I managed to get to this bit! The Camden Head is well known pub due its amazing free comedy club which they have on every day of the week. Both Fridays and Saturdays is a 'pro night' when you can see established comedians without having to pay a penny. It's good to arrive early to avoid disappointments though - Time Out has named their comedy nights as one of their "Must Do" things in London, so it can definitely get very busy.

I feel like I could go on talking forever about this lovely street, but I think I have rambled on enough. There are still so many lovely shops and restaurants I didn't get to mention at all, but that's exactly why you have to go there and experience everything yourself. Exploring this little part of London is definitely one of my favourite things to do.

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Grind is a small-ish chain of coffee shops (as you might have guessed from the name!) but they are also so much more - they're very well known for their yummy brunch and beautiful interiors, but did you know that they also do dinner and cocktails, and that most of them are also open until pretty late?

The Clerkenwell branch entertains guests until 2am on weekends and most other branches will keep their doors open until midnight too. Only the branches at Whitechapel and Royal Exchange close up at 9pm and 7pm respectively, but in all the other places you can sip your cocktails until quite a bit later!






I decided to try out the Clerkenwell branch for two reasons: firstly, we have a direct train to Farringdon from where it's only a 10 minute walk to the cafe, and secondly, I had seen so many pictures of its beautiful interior that I just had to experience it myself - typical blogger, eh?

Luckily, it was even better than I imagined - filled with marble tables, blush pink furniture and neon signs, it was basically an Instagrammers (myself included) dream. Also, I didn't manage to take any pictures, but the toilets were beautiful too, also going strong with the pastel theme. I thought that it was worth a mention, in case there's anyone else out there who's always looking for the next cute place to powder their noses in... Or is that just really weird?




Aside from the interior, I was mostly here, of course, for the food. Breakfast, to be precise.

I opted - unsurprisingly - for avocado on toast (I should really start trying other things too - if only for variety on the blog..!) which was topped with feta cheese, chilli and poached eggs. The combination worked wonderfully, with the crumbles of feta being a cherry on top.




Lastly, one thing I really wanted to mention was the service. Everyone who served us was so friendly, especially our waiter who was super nice and joke-y and left me feeling really positive about our whole experience! Sometimes in these trendy places the service can sometimes feel a bit too "cool", which is why this felt even more refreshing.

Go, go now, if you haven't already! I'll see you there for cocktails?

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Sunday, 9 April 2017

Happy Sunday!

There's not too many snippets from this week, I'm afraid. Even though I was on holiday for one extra day, I didn't manage to take many pictures at all, which is a shame, but that's just how life sometimes rolls! It was my boyfriend's birthday on Tuesday and we celebrated it by doing a bit of brunching, walking and generally just being tourists when there was way fewer people around in London. As you can imagine, taking pictures just didn't feel like the most important to be doing!

I did do some pastel hunting on last Sunday though. I've been bookmarking pretty London places on my Instagram lately, and whenever I have time I'll go and hunt one down - it makes me feel like a little explorer in times when London is in danger of just becoming that place of endless commuting and millions of busy people. This is why this blog is so important for me too - it makes me go out, explore and take pictures a bit more, which is always a good thing.

Here's to being more productive next week - and eating as many Easter eggs as humanly possible!







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