29 September 2014

Eat Me. Il Baretto, Marylebone London

I honestly can't get enough of Italian food. Pizza and pasta just hit the spot with me and given the choice I would probably choose to eat it every night [although I'm not sure my waistline would be happy about it]. London is brimming with Italian; both the people and the food venues alike, although I have been warned by an Italian himself who said there are a lot of fakes here in London. I suppose if they are saying 'bellisimo' more often than necessary you might put them into the questionable pile.

Anyway last week I found myself at a lovely Italian restaurant in Marylebone [FYI no fakes here]. This was Italian fine dining at its best with an impressive wine list, menu and dessert selection. After appraising the large range of choices I settled on the lobster linguine - what can I say, I'm a sucker for seafood. The dish was delicious with a rich tomato sauce and delightfully large chunks of lobster.

Moving onto dessert. When it comes to tiramisu I consider myself a bit of an aficionado. It's my favourite and I've ordered quite a few in my time. Well I think this one takes the cake [literally]. It was so light, creamy and had the perfect amount of coffee liqueur. I'd go back just to have it again.

Topped off with a very nice bottle of white wine, good company and great service [think white table cloths without the white table cloths] I was a very happy girl. And if you fancy another drink at the end of your meal, Purl is just around the corner. This isn't a cheap restaurant, so I doubt it could become your weekly haunt but for a treat every now and then it's the perfect spot.  5/5

Where: 43 Blandford Street London, W1U 7HF
Bookings: Essential
Phone: 020 7486 7340

Photos by Krissie and Il Baretto.

Il Baretto on Urbanspoon

27 September 2014

One Day. The Dating Game

It's been a big couple of months.... I moved to London and... I joined Tinder. Let's call it a project all in the name of blogging research because otherwise I would never admit to using a dating app. Now that I'm out of my home town of approx. 700,000 people where I felt I would likely know 1 in 10 guys in my age bracket, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to give it a go here in London where I don't know a soul. It really is a clean slate.

It's been an interesting experience so far, there have been a few dates, a whole lot of conversations [some good and some wacky] and I will say that several things have made me laugh out loud - sorry boys. Going through the faces as I swipe left and right I noticed several common themes that run throughout these London fellows' profiles. Have a chuckle as I spill the beans below...

1. The family photo. Ahh boys you think you're so clever putting up photos with your mum and grandma don't you? I bet you believe us girls are just going to think "aw what a lovely guy, he loves his family". Perhaps some of you truly do but with most of you I think it's just a sneaky ploy to lure us in!

2. Ok so you know how they always say that girls have a soft spot for guys with babies...? It probably doesn't work so much in this instance because if you have a photo with a baby I'm going to assume it's your child. I think guys have figured out that the cute kid doesn't work in this scenario so they've replaced babies with..... you guessed it; cute dogs. "Hmmm you're kind of ugly.... but what a cute dog, oh he's so gorgeous I'll have to swipe right just because I want to cuddle the puppy." Be warned,  it's a trap - I bet it's not even your dog!

3. Now this one possibly makes me chuckle the most. What is it with you guys and posting photos of yourself with gorgeous girls? Do you think we like the competition? Do you want us to think that you can pull beautiful girls? Are you trying to make yourself look good? I'm just not sure I get it. Whisper is that back home on Tinder a certain fellow, who shall remain unnamed, has two photos with me on his profile. Might I point out that these two photos are probably the only two photos we've ever had taken together. I don't know whether to feel used or flattered!

4. A guy's shirtless photo is the equivalent of a girl's bikini photo; chauvinistic but necessary. After all, we want to know what your body looks like, not just your face. But if you've got all five photos on the beach working on your tan then you're just showing off - cap it at one.

5. Group shots are irritating. Do I need to expand on this, I'm sure all girls agree. It's become a principle for me now; if I can't tell which one you are, I'm not going to bother. Three separate photos of groups of guys? Really? This isn't Where's Wally, I don't want to sit there for 10 minutes trying to match faces. Too hard basket.

6. Well done to those of you who try filling your bio with witty one liners. Some are actually very funny.... and some not so much. But full points for trying.

7. And finally guys - please put your height. People might think I'm shallow for saying this but it really does matter. No girl wants to date a guy who is shorter than them, sorry small fellows but it's just a matter of masculine - girls want to look up, not down. For those of you on the shorter side I'm sure there's someone out there for you who is pint-size as well but it's better that you're up front, we don't like surprises.

Photo via Pinterest.

23 September 2014

Eat Me. Spice Market W Hotel, Leicester Square

I have long known about the Spice Market restaurants, after all the one in New York is pretty famous, so I was delighted to stumble across the London venue last weekend in Leicester Square. Housed in the elite W Hotel, Spice Market provides a gourmet take on Asian street food with glamorous interiors and a layout that truly does feel like a spice market. Jars and bottles of various infusions line the walls along with several key ingredients in oriental cooking.

The menu offers a range of dishes from sushi and tempura to bento boxes, soups, salads and plenty of seafood. I opted for the classic bento box so that I could sample a few things - it included a spicy chicken samosa with coriander yoghurt, spicy thai slaw, malaysian cod and jasmine rice. Everything had great flavour and I really enjoyed each dish - their recipes are delightfully fragrant but [as you can guess from the restaurant name] also quite spicy so request it mild if your tolerance is low. Topped off with a crisp glass of savignon blanc it was the nicest lunch I've had in a while. My friend ordered a selection of sushi which looked delicious as well.

The service here is great; attentive but well spaced out so you don't feel rushed, and if you can't finish your sushi they'll even pack it up for you to take home. As you leave you'll also get a lovely package of Spice Market cookies - their gingernut biscuit was up there with the best I've had. 5/5

Where: W Hotel 10 Wardour Street, London W1D 6QF
Bookings: Recommended
Phone: 020 7758 1088

Photos by Krissie.

Spice Market on Urbanspoon

20 September 2014

Style It. Nina Naustdal #LFW SS15

Early September in London; there is a buzz in the air because there's only one thing on every fashionista's mind - London Fashion Week. For seven days the focus is on clothes, designers, parties, catwalks, celebrities and the tabloids. It really is an infectious feeling.

My experience at LFW 2014 began last week with a launch party hosted by Tirade Magazine in Mayfair. From there it's been a week of soaking up the fashions before attending the Nina Naustdal Spring Summer show on Tuesday.

Hosted at the swanky and chic Le Peep Boutique on Park Lane, Nina's event showcased the best of her designs - both ready to wear and couture. Following her philosophy "normal is boring," Nina's designs featured an array of embellishments, statement shapes, luxurious fabrics and bold tones. The collection has an Old Hollywood air about it but with a modern twist.

The runway was opened by musician Linzi Stoppard who strutted her stuff down the runway whilst playing a fantastic Swarovski encrusted violin; needless to say she got our attention. Before long the fashions came out each one offering a new style; there was sleek fitted black, statement bright skater skirts, luxurious lace and plenty of colour. The show closer was a handmade bridal gown by Nina's London Atelier; the perfect note to end on.

Photos courtesy of Chris Stokes.

13 September 2014

One Day. London working life starts here

That's it, the search is over - I'm officially employed!

I was a very happy girl this week when I got a phone call offering me an amazing job at a London High Street retailer, working in content and copywriting. I must have looked a bit deranged that day because I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around London with this maniacal grin on my face. After all, it's been a bit of a stressful seven weeks leading up to this point but now I can finally stop worrying and embrace this new life [and plan a few cheeky weekend trips!].

I've had all kinds of experiences since arriving here but applying for jobs and being unemployed in a new city isn't a great feeling. Maybe the first week is ok because you spend it being a tourist but after that it's quite daunting. Funds start running low, any friends you have are busy with work and the days can get a little lonely.

One good thing about applying for jobs and interviewing is the amount of places I've gotten to see - honestly if you want to get to know a city just apply for jobs; I've been north, south, east and west, country, city, high street and ghetto, visited tube stations I wouldn't otherwise have been to and walked a mile [or ten] in my interview shoes.

One thing I will say about the work industry here is that whilst it is very much dominated by recruitment agencies, I don't think I'd recommend them. Those people are exhausting.... and very very nosy! They want to know if you're seeing anyone else (recruitment agents not boyfriends) to which I answer no but the truth is yes - I think recruitment agent infidelity is rife in this city. They ask what have you been doing, where do you want to go, how much do you want to earn, what are your skills, what are your bad points... Honestly it's like a bad therapy session. I signed up with quite a few agents around town but all the interviews and job success I had came from ones I found myself. So my advice is just to stick with those companies who work directly with their candidates - chances are they are a better employer anyway!

Well that's it for now, I'm going to sit back, relax and enjoy my new found "employed" status by blowing all my funds on celebratory martinis. Cheers!

Photo via Pinterest.

8 September 2014

Eat Me. Wahaca, Soho

Roaming around Soho the other week with a hungry tummy and a rather empty wallet I stumbled across this little Mexican gem - Wahaca. Part of a chain, there are Wahaca's dotted all around the city and they are great for a bite when you're after some tasty food that won't break the bank.

We arrived around 8pm and were asked to wait in the bar downstairs for a table. Even if you don't intend to eat, it's a great little space for a drink with friends. Wahaca's bar has a very impressive drinks list that features a whole lot of tequilas and even more versions of margaritas [the one with pineapple in it is amazing!]. We weren't waiting long before we were seated at our table. The restaurant has a colourful industrial feel with lots of wood, corrugated iron and splashes of bright paint.

The menu is simple but full of tasty-sounding tapas and larger meals, and the specials for the day come on a post-it note! I opted for the chicken burrito which was delicious but be warned, most things here are spicy even if it doesn't say they are! So ask for mild if you're not sure to be on the safe side. My friends ordered the tasting selection of a few dishes which looked like a great way to get a sample of the menu.

If you're looking for a cool, casual bite with a selection of great cocktails, this is a great place for a weekend or weeknight. 4/5

Where: 80 Wardour Street, London W1F 0TF
Bookings: Suggested
Phone: 020 7734 0195

Photos by Krissie.

Wahaca on Urbanspoon

5 September 2014

Style It. Shoes: an enduring love affair

First there was Cinderella, then there was Carrie Bradshaw... Ask any girl what her number one weakness is and I guarantee the most common answer will be shoes [closely followed by chocolate]. I, for one, am a self-confessed lover; in my opinion shoes make or break an outfit. I don't care if you're wearing a couture dress, if you've got cheap shoes on it might as well be an outfit from Target.

I never inherited an artistic gene in terms of artwork, but even shoes bring out the best in me - I can't believe I managed to paint these water-colours. I hope you're impressed. There's just something about them, those shoes. The straps, the heel, the shape; they really have an allure that I don't think any other fashion item has. Deep down we all want a collection like Carrie - one that's stacked five boxes high and when you run out of wardrobe space you store them in the oven.

Us girls often ridicule each other when it comes to our spending and budgeting prowess but one thing we all understand is splurging on shoes. "Can't afford your rent this month but you bought a $800 pair of Jimmy Choo's - of course you did honey, I totally understand."

History confirms our love affair is real; during the recent global financial crisis, sales of most things plummeted but can you guess what was the one sector that grew? That's right, shoes. Not to mention the physical effect a great pair of shoes can have; high heels make us girls stand in a way that elongates our legs, lifts our bottoms and arches our backs. Even modern medicine agrees; researchers say that the area of the brain that controls our lust and sex drive is right next to the region that deals with the feet.

And we thought it was just our lust for gorgeous accessories talking...

Photos by Krissie.

1 September 2014

Suitcase. Brighton, UK - Travel Guide

For the last day of summer it seemed only right to spend it somewhere by the water... and since I didn't have the luxury of jetting off to Spain or Greece I figured I'd head to England's version of a beachside resort town - Brighton.

I had heard mixed reports about this little seaside town [not so little, it's home to over 200,000] but I'm thrilled to say I really loved it here. For me it was a perfect cross between Sydney's Manly and Melbourne's St Kilda; I'm talking quaint little streets and alleyways, endless cafes and restaurants, an angry ocean far too cold for swimming and a seaside theme park a la Luna Park - complete with an impressive Ferris Wheel mind you!

Start off by checking out the many alleys and laneways in town. They are bursting with designer and nick-nack stores, cafes, restaurants and some incredible sweet shops! From here you can take a walk to Brighton Dome which is a very impressive building that houses the town's theatre and art productions. It backs onto a beautiful park which is well worth a wander and there are plenty of squirrels for spotting if that makes you as excited as me! For a bit of a cultural experience you can wander up St James Street; this is the central gay area in Brighton and there are some great flamboyant stores and characters for spotting! Head south from here and you'll hit the water right at the impressive Ferris Wheel and along to your right is the famous Brighton Pier. And if you feel like a spot of shopping, Churchill Shopping Centre isn't too far away which houses a good range of stores.

Reaching Brighton is an easy one hour train ride from London; departing from Victoria or Blackfriars stations. And once you arrive there's really no need for anything but your legs. Walking around town is great and there's so much to explore on foot. But if need be, you can grab one of the several local buses that go all around town.

You won't be short of choice in Brighton and I think wandering the streets to make your selection is the way to go. The little alleys and lanes host the majority of restaurants and I saw some great looking burger joints and Italian restaurants. If you want a truly beachy experience then you can always opt for fish and chips on the beach!

Whilst I will say that Brighton's beaches certainly can't rival those of Australia, I really enjoyed this little seaside town. It's history combined with an intricate city layout and the endless call of seagulls makes for a lovely experience. Definitely a place to visit when the sun is shining.

Photos by Krissie.