London’s Best Restaurants

It is no secret that I like food. Ok… I more than like food; food has become a hobby for me in all aspects. I love hunting down new restaurants, trying new flavors, photographing dishes, and cooking healthy meals for myself. Being a foodie truly is a lifestyle!

While I was in London I had a chance to try many different restaurants all over the city, each a different type of cuisine. Many people say London has poor tasting food; well they clearly weren’t eating at the right places. Here are my absolute favorite restaurants in London, each a favorite for a different reason.

Oka in Primrose Hill

Oka describes itself as a traditional and fusion Japanese restaurant. They offer sashimi, sushi and stir-fry meals. My absolute favorite thing on the menu is the chili edamame, as shown below. It is something so simple yet bursting with spicy flavor.

Oka Primrose Hill London

Another one of my favorites, and an absolute must-have if you are a sushi lover, is the salmon jalapeño roll. The flavors are fresh and subtle, which is what makes it so good. The wasabi at Oka is even homemade, adding a special touch to every sushi roll.

Oka sushi London

Be sure to book this spot in advance if looking to dine here in the evening. Don’t forget to hike to the top of Primrose Hill, first, and enjoy the sunset!

Da Mario in South Kensington

A favorite of Princess Diana, this restaurant is a go-to when looking for yummy Italian food in London. All of the pasta is homemade and the sauce is to die for. Not only do they offer pastas but they make their own pizzas as well. I love how friendly and welcoming the staff is to everyone that walks in. My favorite here has to be the potato gnocchi; the gnocchi is so plump and melts in your mouth!

Sketch in Chelsea

If you are Instagram obsessed like I am then you have definitely seen pictures of Sketch’s decor. As soon as you walk in the door you feel like you have fallen down the rabbit hole and ended up in Wonderland. I was lucky enough to visit during the Chelsea Flower Show when the entire restaurant was covered in pink peonies and roses.

Sketch London breakfast

While the afternoon tea is quite expensive and usually booked months in advance, the breakfast option is usually always available and not nearly as expensive. I enjoyed some porridge and fruit with a few cups of the matcha green tea.

Sketch London breakfast fruit

While the food is certainly delicious, what makes Sketch one of my favorites is the one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Each room is decorated differently; whether you are sitting on pink velvet couches or in a forest of flowers, the experience is magical.

City Best Kebab in Shoreditch

I had to add my favorite post-night-out spot to this list; the perfect spot for a cheap and quick meal. London is filled with falafel shops so it can be quite hard to find the best one. Luckily, this one was right around the corner from my flat and has the best falafel I have ever tasted. You never know what kind of crowd you are going to come across either, which is what makes it so entertaining.

Pacata in Covent Garden

I purposely saved the best for last with this restaurant; ironic since this was also the last meal I ate in London before leaving. Pacata specializes in thai comfort food, making the best tom kha soup and pad thai.

best pad thai in london

I know I’m making a big claim here but this may have been one of the best meals I have ever eaten. I am a huge fan of squid ink pasta and order it whenever it is on a restaurant’s menu. Pacata had squid ink pad thai, a combination of two of my favorite things. The flavors were so unique and worked together so well. If you are near Covent Garden you must try this dish!

Stay tuned for more of my favorites in London and other European cities by following me on here, InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

 

 

Advertisements

Hidden Gem of London: Palm Vaults

I am a sucker for a place with a cute aesthetic and healthy, good-tasting food. Needless to say, Palm Vaults offers both of these, all in the heart of Hackney.

palm vault london

The café truly is an Instagrammer’s heaven with the green plants hanging from the ceiling, marble tables, velvet couches, and pink accents. Not to mention the takeaway cups which are chic enough to include in your next #ootd post.

Palm Vault Dragonfruit Smoothie

My friend ordered the “Unleash the Dragon” smoothie which is undeniably the prettiest smoothie I have ever seen. It still amazes me how a fruit can produce a color as bright and vibrant as this one.

Palm Vault London

Palm Vaults is known for their endless selection of artisan lattes. Tumeric, violet, red velvet, blue moon tea, and charcoal are just a few options included in their menu. I ordered the red velvet latte and was surprised to taste a beet flavor. It turns out the pretty red color is acheived using the natural coloring of beets. While it is definitely an acquired taste, it makes me feel better knowing that I am not consuming artificial chemicals. The beet and mocha flavors surprisingly complement one another very well!

Palm Vault acai bowl

I ordered the “Pataya Bowl”, decorated with raspberries, coconut, blueberries, and goji berries. After seeing pictures of my favorite bloggers eating these bowls on tropical islands such as Hawaii and Australia, I had to have one. This bowl brought a little slice of the warm tropics to London, right before walking outside into the rain of course.

palm vault london

While I loved being in such a pretty atmosphere, with yummy food, places like this attract certain kinds of people. Of course I am not hating on us bloggers, being I am also that girl that has to rearrange the table to get the perfect picture of what I am about to consume, but it is also important to enjoy the moment you are living in.

Often at times we tend to only do things for the image that it portrays on social media. We all get caught up in capturing that perfect picture with the perfect lighting. While this is ok to do to a certain point, there comes a time when it’s necessary to put the camera or phone down and focus on what’s in front of you. Enjoy your delicious food. Enjoy the atmosphere you’re in. Most importantly, enjoy the time with the company that surrounds you.

The next time you go out to brunch or coffee with friends, spend the first 5 minutes rearranging your food and posting it all over social media. After, put the camera away. Put the phone away. Take the time to really talk to your friends and really taste your food. It is amazing how much more enjoyable life becomes when you shut out the digital world and embrace the present.

Follow me on here, InstagramTwitter, and Facebook to see more pictures of London and its yummy food.

Weekend Getaway: Cambridge, England

This past weekend I escaped rainy London and headed over to (also very rainy) Cambridge! I figured it was time to start exploring the other cities in England. While I am a city girl and absolutely adore being in London, it was nice to change up my atmosphere for a college campus feel. I would love to say it felt just like home, but lets be honest, my school in the United States is nowhere near as pretty as the University of Cambridge.

Fitzbillies Bakery Cambridge

Are you surprised that my first stop in Cambridge was for food? Neither am I! My friend and I dropped into Fitzbillies, a favorite among the locals, for their famous Chelsea bun. And maybe a scone too… I can’t resist a good cup of English Breakfast tea and a yummy scone with jam when I see one on the menu!

Fitzbillies Bakery chelsea bun

The Chelsea bun did not disappoint. It was just as ooey and gooey as I expected. The raisins inside made for an extra touch of deliciousness. This pastry is a must-have if you are traveling to Cambridge!

Cambridge University England

I like to think I have a deep appreciation for classic architecture, so naturally these buildings took my breathe away. I can’t believe students actually attend classes here!

Cambridge University market

Cambridge University canal

Throughout the varying campuses of the University of Cambridge runs a canal. Many people hop on the canal and opt for a tour of all of the colleges via the water. We decided to skip out on this to save some money, but it would be quite beautiful in the spring!

Cambridge market tea

Since we traveled to Cambridge on a Saturday, all of the vendors were out selling their goods at the local markets. There were vendors selling food, books, jewelry, University apparel, and more. I personally loved this tea vendor because of all of the handwritten tags. You could tell he was extremely passionate about his homegrown teas, which is what I love to see from market vendors.

Cambridge University

After walking around and taking in the atmosphere, we made a trip to The Eagle, the pub where Francis Crick and James Watson first announced that DNA carries genetic information. Being the nerd that I am, I had to get a drink here and bathe in the scientific glory that occurred in this pub.

We ended out trip by making our way to the Centre for Computing History. Little did I know this would entail a 45 minute walk across town, to a rather deserted manufacturing area. The museum was hidden behind a tile factory, making it nearly impossible to find. After finally finding it, I had to pay 7 pounds in order to walk through it. This is a lot for a college student on a budget in a foreign country!

Centre of Computing History Cambridge

The museum had almost every computer ever made, explaining when each one was built and the functions it could perform. My favorite part was the wall of game consoles displayed, each one fully functioning. I played Super Mario Brothers from 1983 and Pacman on a vintage arcade machine, reliving my fondest childhood memories of challenging my mom to Pacman tournaments in Jersey Shore arcades. Now I want one of these for my apartment!

Thanks for giving me a nice city escape, Cambridge! Until the next weekend trip…

See what I am up to in London on a daily basis by following me on here, InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

 

City Girl… or Farm Girl?

If you are an avid Instagram-scroller and health foodie then you have probably heard of a little place called Farm Girl Cafe in the neighborhood of Knotting Hill in London. After drooling at pictures on my feed for the past few months, I finally had the opportunity to taste the luxe lattes and fresh avocado toast.

img_8181

If you visit this restaurant expect a wait… a very long wait. One thing I have noticed in London is that waiters are not rushing around, worrying about each customer’s happiness the way the waiters do in America. Here they make you stand outside in the cold for nearly an hour before finally acknowledging your hangriness and dire need for food.

img_8209

The menu is full of options, from vegan and vegetarian to a loaded chicken sandwich, it is a safe place to drag your meat-loving friends. However, don’t expect to escape the endless health and vegan jokes. “That coconut bacon does not deserve to call itself bacon.”

img_8193

“This charcoal latte is crunchy. I can feel it in-between my teeth”. I will admit, these jokes are hilarious because quite often I am blinded by how ridiculous these things really are. I love trendy health food but I also appreciate a good laugh at them.

img_8199

These drinks have been haunting me from my Instagram feed since the moment I saw them. Rose and charcoal lattes? Definitely not something you find at your typical Starbucks! Unfortunately they do sound and look a lot cooler than they taste. Do it for the picture, though, right?

img_8208

I can’t go to brunch without eating some form of avocado, usually avocado toast. There is just nothing that beats it. This avocado toast was decorated with lemon juice, pomegranate seeds, and a poached egg. I ordered coconut bacon and sweet potato fries on the side. Both were delicious but definitely not worth the money. I would stick with the sandwiches which seemed a lot more filling than my £12 slices of bread.

Overall, this place makes for very cute pictures and a lovely place to chat with friends. However, if you are looking for a full on feast and to save some money, you may want to try somewhere else.

Follow me on Instagram for more yummy food pictures.

 

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe

With Thanksgiving coming up, I have one thing on my mind. PUMPKIN. Ok, maybe mashed potatoes and stuffing as well…

During the fall time I crave every kind of food in a pumpkin flavor. Pumpkin coffee, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin soup, you name it. There’s just something about fall that makes me want to eat it all of the time. Pumpkin puts us in the holiday spirit and makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

img_7814

I recently discovered Bliss Nut-Butters through Instagram and have been eating their nut-butters nonstop since. I will admit, I practically ate the whole jar of their Cinnamon Chia Seed Peanut Butter before I could even share this recipe. It really is THAT delicious. What’s their secret to making the butters so addictive? I would have to say the sea salt combined with the sweetness of the cinnamon!

img_7816

After eating half the jar I had the idea to include it in a smoothie with pumpkin. I figured the cinnamon would act as pumpkin pie spice and the peanuts would add some extra flavor and nutrition. For this recipe you will need:

1/2 can of pumpkin

1 spoonful of Bliss Nut Butters Cinnamon

1 frozen banana

soy milk

img_7818

Simply blend up all your ingredients and add soy milk as needed.

img_7832

Enjoy! The cinnamon peanut butter adds the perfect hint of sweetness to the pumpkin without overdoing it. It’s like a pumpkin pie without the excess sugar. Next time you feel like cheating with a slice of pie, blend this smoothie together instead!

Finding Happiness in Simplicity

I think we can all agree that our fondest memories are always those shared with the people we love most in life. These memories can range from a family vacation to a day at the beach to one’s favorite holiday. I often find that my most treasured memories do not have to be in a special place or at a special time but with someone special. When you are with a person that simply makes you happy just with their presence, the world of possibility to make an unforgettable memory automatically opens up.

IMG_6778

My cousin, and my best friend, recently visited me for a Saturday while I was living in the city. I often find that I don’t have to plan out concrete things for us to do in order to have an amazing time, especially in New York, because, lets be honest, everything is pretty amazing.

Naturally, we ate our way through the day, walking our way to different neighborhoods. We began with Good Enough to Eat in the Upper West Side, a block down from where I was living. This has been on my list of restaurants to try for quite some time now, especially after walking past long lines of people every weekend morning. We didn’t even have to wait in the line since I volunteered my butt to be burned on the metal chairs that were heating up in the hot summer sun. The things I will do when I am hungry! Needless to say, you can never go wrong with a biscuit and a well-cooked omelette (one with white cheddar and granny smith apples in this case!).

After browsing through a few book stores, riding the Subway downtown, stopping at Mount Sinai for band-aids for Natasha’s feet and sipping on drinks in the East Village, we managed to end up in the Lower East Side/Soho area. While I often pass this quaint blue building, seeing people chomping down on corn, I had not tried it for myself before this weekend. Natasha and I always joke that you can only eat corn on the cob around the person you feel most comfortable with. Let me tell you ladies, not a pretty sight! This has to be a given, but if I boy wants to take you to Cafe Habana on a date, run the other direction. Or maybe just suggest another restaurant.

IMG_6784

Sprinkled with cheese and zested with lime, this corn is a delicious summer treat to share with your best friend. We ate ours out on the street, taking in the buzzing environment, but there is also a sit-down part of the restaurant right next door.

Since we were in the area I stopped at Sunrise Mart, a convenient store carrying all kinds of Japanese goodies, to buy my favorite lychee gummies. Natasha and I may or may not have eaten an entire bag each while watching the sunset… They really are that good!

IMG_6829

My favorite summer activity is watching the sunset. It may seem so simple but it always gives me an extreme wave of happiness and love for life. It is crazy to think that everyone in this world sees the same sun every day and watches it come and go at different points in time. The sun and each day is something we are all guilty of taking advantage of. How often do you stop to appreciate the sun rising and the opportunity to start a new day? Or watch the sun setting and reflect on the day that just passed?

IMG_6823

As I sat in Hudson River Park, with my favorite city of skyscrapers and bustling lives behind me, I watched the sun fall over the horizon, closing the wonderful day I had just spent with my cousin. Life can get hectic. We all have jobs. We all have needs. We all have goals. I get it, it’s hard to balance all of these in one 24-hour day. In order to appreciate and enjoy these days, however, we need to stop and take in the natural beauty of what is happening in the world we live in.

The Red Store: A Gem of the Jersey Shore

You drive off the main road leading to the beach onto a smaller road winding through a hidden residential neighborhood. After passing a quaint church and children playing in a park you will find a little red corner store buzzing with the locals of the surrounding area. Here you will find fresh-pressed juices, farm-to-table ingredients, and a solacing environment all in the heart of the Jersey Shore.

IMG_6641

The fresh juices (The Red Juice, Fresh pressed apple juice, Florida Orange Juice) are some of my favorite items this restaurant has to offer. You can order them at a smaller counter by the door when you are on the go or enjoy one while waiting for your meal. In addition to the juices, they also sell smoothies (Banana Nut Smoothie and Strawberry Milk) perfect for the health nuts like me. These smoothies are delectable yet contain only natural sweeteners like honey and almond milk, a perfect alternative to the deceiving smoothies that are packed with artificial sugars.

IMG_6650

You can even watch them blending and juicing all of the fresh, local ingredients right in front of you!

IMG_6652

Once I find a meal I truly enjoy I am guilty of ordering it every time I visit that restaurant; The Red Store is no exception to this. I always order the ABLT, which is avocado, apple wood smoked bacon, baby arugula, and tomato jam packed on a buttery croissant. I obviously opt for no bacon, since I don’t eat meat, but I can only imagine how delectable it tastes.

Even thinking about the tomato jam has me drooling. It tastes a bit like tomatoes but has a sweetness to it that this fruit does not normally have. Each fresh ingredient that is added to this sandwich makes all the difference. You can even add an egg to it for some extra protein!

IMG_6636

What is the perfect ending to a Sunday brunch? A foaming cappuccino of course! This one has a kick that definitely reminds you of its espresso content, waking you up for the long beach day ahead. The Red Store ships in all their coffee from Brooklyn’s Gotham Coffee, so you know you are getting nothing but the best. After all, being a biased New Yorker I believe everything from New York City is of the finest quality.

The next time you are down the shore, make the trip south to Cape May to taste the one-of-a-kind drinks and dishes The Red Store has to offer. We can only handle so many stacks of pancakes and fried crab cake sandwiches before we need a fresh, authentic meal.