HERE MY STEPS. TAKE A LOOK!
Everyone wants to visit the UK’s busiest city, but aside from the main tourist sights, what is there to see? How do you get from one place to another in this huge place? Need an insider’s perspectiveI want to share a ‘ NON TOURISTY TOURIST’ perspective on what to see in the Big Smoke! If you want to visit the mainstream attractions like the London Eye, Tower of London and Madame Tussauds then, of course, you should go for it!
They’re lots of fun.
There’s another fascinating side of the city that goes far beyond the usual tourist highlights. I want to share some quick tips that real Londoners enjoy to make your time there truly memorable!
First things first, get accustomed to the TFL (Transport for London) website and buy an oyster card from your nearest station: it’s the most affordable way to travel.
You arrive early afternoon and want to see as much as possible this weekend! Head towards Greenwich to see the Cutty Sark ship, hire a Boris bike and cycle under the Thames. At the other side, enjoy the view and take a left towards Canary Wharf to get a sneak peak of all the city’s penguins (the crowds of businessmen in suits). If shopping and city life is your thing, the Canada Water shopping centre is your new best friend. Enjoy all of the main high street shops, in addition to some more fancy brands! The restaurant ROKA in Canary Wharf has a beautiful view of the city from a great height, and serves delicious food and cocktails.
If you prefer the scenic route, continue along the river you’ll reach some cobbled streets (difficult for cycling: it’s going to be a bumpy ride!) with quaint English pubs before arriving at St Katherine Docks. Dock your Boris bike somewhere and catch your breath before the evening adventures begins. There aren’t many places I’d recommend more highly than Frank’s bar in Peckham on a warm evening to really appreciate the atmosphere of London. Opposite the station lies a formerly disused multi-story carpark, which now hosts Frank’s Bar on the roof! Affordable drinks (for London) and a view over the whole city!
For my first night in the city, I went exotic and choose a great restaurant in Portobello.
Outdoor, a flashing red neon sign says Japanese Gastropub, just below a mysterious face of a mysterious woman. Is she a geisha? Is she crying or praying? Let’ s go inside. Previous doubts ended as soon as I found myself embraced by UKAI’s cosy and warm atmosphere . A welcoming bar to the front and an open kitchen restaurant in the back. It looked loke a nice mixing of Japanese design with Italian flair and some traditional British pub features black and white photo portraits give an art gallery feeling, while Japanese artwork and foliage painting decorate walls and ceilings the rooms adorns the walls; furnished with causal wooden tables and filtered by an amber lighting that warms up the rooms.
The big surprise was to briefly chat in italian with the head chef Alex Verros or should I calling him Alessandro, as he’s Italian born, like me.
Alex, who previously worked at Roka and Nobu, told me about his passion of mixing different cultures and ingredients, like his native land North Italian truffles, to South Latin accents, to British influences, not afraid to combine simplicity with complexity. I started with a warm, inviting and comforting wonderful salmon miso soup, served with tofu, seaweed and spring onion. Then I beg Alessandro to surprise me. And he did. Between his choices, my favorite were the kampachi salad, with thin slivers of tender cobia white fish, drizzled with yuzu truffle and rocket, a dish that Alessandro likes to pair with galapeno and the prawn tempura maki. From the menu, I would like to mention also some signatures dishes as the truffle white tuna tataki, the lobster tail tempura and his ceviche, where Japanese flavours meet South American tradition. In addition to a generous choice of sushi, sashimi and nagiri and of course the beef robata dishes that Alessandro loves to cook in person, lighted by the fire grill fireworks .
Impossible not to ask such a nice host a souvenir picture…
‘Let’ do it at my robata grill, said Alessandro, it is my favourite spot in this place’ ‘Certamente!’, I enthusiastically answered, and, both risking a fire attack, I shoot the pic.
A hot moment of an unforgettable dinner.For more info
240 Portobello Rd, London W11
Phone: +44 20 7792 2444
Saturday: Grab brunch or food from every country you could think of at Borough Market (get off at London Bridge station) and wander around the stalls and old backstreets. Head down the steps on London Bridge and walk left along the river, passing lots of cute English pubs, the Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern gallery (many free exhibitions for lovers of the creative).
Stop by the National Theatre mid-afternoon for any last-minute discount tickets, or sit and enjoy the view of Big Ben or the London Eye from the South Bank. There are often pop-up bars or street performers there too!
Now you can carry on over the Jubilee Bridge towards Trafalgar Square and the West End. On sunny days I would highly recommend taking a left turn before Covent Garden and checking out St James’s Park, where you can find most people in London enjoying the weather and nature. If rainy England is sticking to its infamous title, head towards the National Gallery: free entrance and some of the most breath-taking paintings and sculptures you’ve ever seen!
Covent Garden is the perfect place for an evening out. From Sushi to Greek, Burgers to Quinoa, the choices are endless. There is also the option of trying out an old English pub or one of the trendy new bars the city is popular for. If you’re planning a late night, Oxford Circus is only twenty minutes away by foot, where you can party until your heart is content!
I choose Tredwells, a Marcus Wareing restaurant and winner of AA’s London Restaurant of the Year.
Great location, excellent service and a breathtaking menu signed by the charming Chef Chantelle Nicholson, Tredwells showcases the very best in British seasonal produce Located in the trendy Seven Dials area, right in the heart of Covent Garden, the venue boasts two bar areas serving seasonally inspired cocktails, cementing Tredwells’ reputation as one of the best drinks venues in Seven Dials. the restaurant sets over three floors, while the mezzanine and lower ground floors are available for exclusive hire.
I went for lunch, tried several of Chantelle proposals and found them all perfectly cooked and pleasantly tasting, starting from the beginning with a great potato and rosemary bread with salted whey butter till the end, indulging in a delicious fig mousse.
I noted, and photographed my choices and my recommendations.
After lunch, I meet with Chef Chantelle, obviously in her kingdom,the kitchen, and chatted oh her life, her love for cooking and her first solo cook book Planted.
Where your passion for food comes from?
It’s all because of the love of my New Zealand garden, so rich of herbs and vegetables and my two aunties who were great cooks Probably since that tender age I wanted to be a Chef, but…story of my life, I went to university to become a lawyer.
So you forgot your culinary passion?
Not really , while studying, I got a job at the local café, waking up at 6am on Saturday mornings to bake muffins, then proudly becoming a kitchen hand in the restaurant of a small hotel that also had a garden…
A garden? Here you go…
Yes, my passion for fruits and vegetables was there again, learning about seasonal food, how they grow, and the ecosystem of the garden. I remember picking up herbs super early in the morning…
What happened to the lawyer?
Well, I passed the bar in my law exams and ready to become a layer , but the still enchantment of the kitchen was always in my head…Coincidentally I enrolled the amateur cooking competition Chef Search, run by Gordon Ramsay. I made it to the final six, and was offered to work at The Savoy, London.
I have co-authored Marcus’s cookery books and in 2015 worked with him consulting on the movie Burnt. Then Marcus Wareing asked if she’d join Pétrus, his two-starred restaurant, as a junior sous chef in 2006, followed by The Gilbert Scott in 2011 and from 2014 I was in charge of as group operations director of the entire range of Marcus Wareing restaurants. Now I am back to my passion: cooking! I am proudly the chef patron at Tredwells created by the genius of Marcus Wareing.
Your new book ‘Planted’
Is not a book about veganism, it is about tasty dishes, made without animal products. You will find recipes for a plant-based cooking, focusing on plant based cuisine that deliver taste and creativity. I like to celebrate produce, seasonality and food that taste good.
Chantelle, what will I always find in your fridge?
Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables and a bottle of a great New Zealand Chardonnay!
for more info
The perfect day for a relaxing walk around the local parks. Check out Dulwich’s Horniman Museum, a small childhood favourite of mine with beautiful botanical gardens, before riding on the banana bikes through the peaceful Dulwich Park. Then take a well needed rest and sit in the garden of the Woodhouse pub, sipping your ale (if you dare) and enjoying your roast dinner. If you still have time after doing all of this, then firstly, congratulations; you’re super efficient! Brick Lane, Camden and Liverpool Street would be my next recommendations. If there’s a day to spare, you can’t pass up the opportunity to go to the Harry Potter Studios cast some spells!
SUNDAY IS …. Brunch time!!!!
I discovered Trangallán.
It’s a word from Galicia, Spain for a kind of bohemian artist.
This so called ‘gastro-cultural space’ certainly has that bohemian feel, with its shabby chic-flea market furniture contrasting with rich glass chandeliers and vintage objects all around. The menu changes frequently boasting imaginative dishes revealing a good deal of skill and creativity. Add an easy-going welcome from the stuff and the super cool owner–chef, who came at my table to say hello while sipping a delicious 2016 Albarino Igrexario de Salar and snacking some succulent Manzanilla olives. I followed his suggestions and went for a very traditional tortilla made of eggs and potatoes. Perfectly browned on the outside, still tender within and served at room temperature. I asked if that is the way that tortilla should be served, medium warm not hot. They told me that is a Spanish tradition to cook tortillas in the morning and let them rest till the meal so, yes, the temperature should be room temperature, Good to know. Then I tasted a more winterish dish of judion, a butter beans & piparras, followed by a perfectly roasted octopus with saffron potatoes and wilde samphire. If you’re looking for a ‘not so commun’ tapas restaurants in North London, or Spanish food in Stoke Newington then you must try this cool venue.
For more info
61 Newington Green, Mildmay Ward, London N16
Smart move. I took a day off from work and reserved a late afternoon flight!
Yes I wanted to enjoy London and … I had London at my feet!
London. I happily experimented the OXO TOWER restaurant located at the eight floor of the OXO Tower. Relaxed atmosphere, good service and … the view. The menu boasts dishes so-called ‘contemporary British’ with European accents spanning from Spain with a gazpacho with sardine paté, to Italy with bresaola paired to a watermelon carpaccio. I tried a rich yet delicate soup of Scottish langoustines, spaghetti style chopped squids, tomatoes, fennel, and lobster- It tasted rich yet delicate, not too spicy or garlicky (I hate too much garlic…) Notably the langoustines were nicely straight, not curvy at all, My very nice Italian born waiter, told me that the secret is simply to put them in the freezer for about 40 minutes.When you take them out, the shell will be solidified, you would easily break it and extract the langoustine in all its fullness and horizontality. As a main dish, I followed Guido’s suggestion and opted for a John Dory fish, served with lobster, celery puré, oil and herb sauce with little white beans.
I must say all the ingredients were in perfect fusion and the broth maintained its freshness thanks to the acidity of the vegetables. I paired with a very fruity Albarino Atlantico white wine from Galicias, excellent!
As a side dish, a kale salad, sprinkled with a powder of beets and pumpkin seeds and seasoned with a Caesar dressing.Delicious finale: English strawberry and basil mousse.
Not to mention the spectacular sunset view that made my dinner unforgettable.
For more info
Call 020 7803 3888 or
Finally ….. here the best list of the two M I am crazy about …
MUSEUMS …AND MARKETS!
Imperial War Museum
Bank of England Museum
Sir John Soane’s Museum
Natural History Museum
Queen’s House, Greenwich
Victoria & Albert Museum THE BEST!!!!!!
MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC
Royal Academy of Music Museum
YOU WANT MORE ???
Museum of London Docklands
Horniman Museum & Gardens
Science Gallery London
Grant Museum of Zoology
The Chocolate Museum
MARKETS, MY PASSION!
Borough Marketk ( my fav…)
Brick Lane Market.
Columbia Road Flower Market.
Portobello Road Market.
Brixton Village and Market
Old Spitalfields Market.