30 March 2015

Style It. March Celeb Street Style

It took me a while to pull together this month’s top picks. I don’t know if it’s because the celebs are all in hiberation to beat the bitter chill of March, or if everyone was feeling a little less fashion savvy because they’re over winter and ready for spring [thank god it’s here now]. Either way, it doesn’t matter because I found my top three, check them out below and see how you can recreate them for yourself...

Jeans by Ted Baker £89 || Turtle Neck by River Island £16 || Sleeveless Coat by Miss Guided £55 || Bag by Topshop £49

My favourite Kardashian Kendall Jenner knows how to work easy, luxe layers. This weekend ensemble is so something I would wear. She nails the off-duty-model look with carefree style; the sleeveless wool coat looks cosy yet chic and I’m a big fan of black skinnies.

Bag by Michael Kors £130 || Trousers by Reiss £120 || Top by Sass & Bide £150 || Shoes by River Island £35 || Coat by Yohji Yamamoto £1,579 || Sunglasses by River Island £13

Ah Karlie Kloss, with long limbs and a ballet background you were built for fashion. When I saw this look, my involuntary sigh was one of sheer friendly jealousy because she just always looks so good. And she’s wearing my favourite palette. The crisp white trouser looks so smart with the longline jacket and sleek accessories. It’s like American-meets-Parisian.

Bag by Topshop £40 || Jeans by River Island £45 || Flowing Top by Somerset £59 || Crop Top by Topshop £26 

I haven’t seen or heard much from Kate Beckinsale lately but you’ve gotta hand it to her, she knows how to do chic airport style. I certainly never look that great at the airport, not to mention those glam curls. A floaty blouse under a cropped knit perfectly blends feminine-urban style, and I love her designer tote. Us mere mortals will have to settle for a lookalike.

Photos via Pinterest.

27 March 2015

Eat Me. Abeno, Bloomsbury

Okonomi-yaki [ok-o-nom-i-ya-ki] noun. A Japanese savoury pancake.

How I went 24 years without knowing this one I’ll never know. Okonomi-yaki = delectably delicious.

Abeno is a Japanese restaurant specialising in Okonomi-yaki. With two locations in London and the rest in their home country of Japan, Abeno claims to be “Europe’s only specialist Okonomi-yaki restaurant” – and I can concur that these guys know what they're doing.

Not usually one to enjoy pancakes I was a little sceptical but thought I’d give it a go and I’m so glad I did. If you’re trying this cuisine for the first time then Abeno is the place to do it. Their specialist interior is designed with teppan hot plates on every table so your delicacy can be cooked right there in front of you.

A mixture of eggs, flour, cabbage, vegetables and your chosen protein; your Okonomi-yaki comes together before your eyes in a matter of minutes – just like a pancake! When it’s nice and golden brown, it’s topped with seaweed, Japanese mayo and a special Okonomi-yaki sauce (this stuff is ridiculously good) in a swirl and a flourish. Ta-da!

These are flippin' good. 5/5

Where: 47 Museum Street, WC1A 1LY London
Bookings: recommended, although you can try your luck
Phone: 020 7405 3211

Pictures by Krissie.

Abeno on Urbanspoon

23 March 2015

Suitcase. Budapest, Hungary - Travel Guide

To be honest, travelling around Eastern Europe was never high on my list. For some reason, in my mind I had grown up with a negative perspective of those countries, thinking they were unsafe and not a place to visit. How wrong I was because my first experience was great. Hungary’s Budapest is amazing. I have surprised even myself to say that I think this trip was my favourite European short break to date. This intriguing city is full of fascinating contradictions, a very particular culture and so much history.  [Fun fact: it’s actually pronounced Budapescht.]

Honestly, I’m not sure I can encapsulate the sights of this city into words, but I hope combined with pictures you get a sense of this fascinating place. At the heart of Budapest lies the stunning River Danube, dividing the city in to two sides that were once named Buda and Pest. We arrived and headed straight off to the city’s Free Walking Tour, this is the same company as the tour I did in Rome) again I would highly recommend it. It’s such a fantastic way to get the lay of the land and our guide Zoltan was full of interesting titbits and cracked some pretty funny jokes.

There are so many beautiful buildings dotted around both sides of the river that you simply must see like the Royal Palace

St Stephen’s Bascilica

 the Parliament building (this one at night is a definite ‘wow moment’)

Fisherman’s Bastion for incredible views

Chain Bridge

and the Matthias Church.

Also check out the boots monument by the river which acts as a poignant reminder of the Jews who were shot into the icy water during WWII. Chilling stuff.

The Jewish quarter is a real eye opener and quite possibly one of my favourite things I saw in Budapest. The pictures say it all. This area is completely untouched since WWII yet is completely lived in. All the ruin-like buildings are occupied and even more interesting is that you can see bullet holes as if the war happened yesterday.

Around the corner from here you’ll find Szimpla Kertmozi, a ruin bar which Lonely Planet listed as the third best bar in the world. Step inside and you’ll see why. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before; multiple levels with an eclectic mix of household furniture all housed in a run-down building that looks like it might crumble at any moment. Cool.

When you’re just about walked-out, ensure you take yourself to the Szechenyi thermal hot spring baths to soak your tired limbs. Built in 1913, these pools are known to have healing powers thanks to their thermal springs. Great for a soak, and the majestic building provides a great photo op too!

The Vajdahunyad Castle which is just across the park is also a must-see. I felt like I’d stepped into Beauty and the Beast.

We timed it so that we were in Budapest for their National Day holiday which provided an extra cultural boost to our visit. On Sunday 15th March we proudly took to the streets and marched along with the music band and soldiers - it was clear we were the only non-Hungarian people but who cares!? We saw Hungarian dancing and listened to the President’s speech (of which we didn’t understand a word… never mind!) before heading off to the many special markets.

As far as cities go, Budapest isn’t that big so you can use your legs to get around town and see most of the sights. Having said that, there is an underground metro system and the guys at the ticket desk do speak English so they can explain the system and offer you a map. We used this to get to the Szechenyi baths which are up the other end of town. Taxis are pretty cheap so they are also a good option for getting around. You can expect to pay around 8,000 forint (approx. £20) to get from the airport to a central hotel. And finally, make sure you take a cruise down the Danube at night. It’s a spectacular sight.

The food here is an interesting melange with a range of great venues to choose from. From traditional Hungarian street stalls to very upscale restaurants – I was impressed. You’ll also find plenty of authentic Italian restaurants around (who wudda’ thunk’ it!?). And Ramenka does great ramen!

I tried a few traditional foods like langos (flatbread with filling)

 and kurtoskalacs (cinnamon chimneys).

On the whole I wouldn’t say their national diet consists of the healthiest things – it’s largely fried dough and sausages, but good all the same!

I was also really impressed by the décor of all the cafes and restaurants. Everything looks very upmarket – props’ to their shop fitters, you guys are doing great.

On the whole, the food and drink here is definitely cheaper than in London. My friend and I dined at Nobu one evening – we were thrilled that our bill was about half the price of the London venue – mind you it was still exxy but when it’s Nobu you don’t mind. Heaven.

Extra Tips
Be aware that the currency in Hungary is the Hungarian Forint, whilst they do accept Euros in some places you generally won’t get a very good exchange rate so I recommend travelling with the local currency. On the plus side, everything is cheap. You can probably work off a budget of £40/day very comfortably. Hotels are also a steal so why not treat yourself to something 5 stars for around £100/night (thanks Le Meridien!).

Hungarian is a strange and complex language (the only word I managed to learn was “cheers” – “egészségedre“), but most locals speak at least a little bit of English. I found the people in this city to be so friendly, they won’t try and take advantage of you and are always happy to help. It was so refreshing.  I can say with 100% confidence that Budapest is a fabulous place for a city break, forget everything you’ve heard and go with an open mind and a smile. Both will get you far.

Photos by Krissie.

20 March 2015

One Day. Thank God It's Spring

So apparently being an Australian in the UK will make you sick. Literally. Believe me I should know, I've suffered through every cold and flu known to man, back to back since November. As soon as the weather got chilly, bang - sore throat, constant sneezing and deathly cough (I've been the girl people glance sideways at and shuffle away from for way. too. long.).

Last week I'd had it up to here. There is only so much soldiering on I can do so I took myself to see the doc.

As I have now learned, Aussies who are in the UK for their first winter might as well have a flu named after them; it's so common. "Oh yes another Aussie, you look very pale" she said to me. No kidding the sun virtually doesn't exist here and even when it does shine it hardly cuts through the Arctic breeze. "Your vitamin D levels are rock bottom." Again I blame your lack of sunshine. "I think you're run down and doing too much." Forgive me if I have a seize-the-day-you-only-live-once attitude. I've never been the kind of person to take a break.

Long story short I left with a list of vitamins as long as my arm and a countdown to today, because now it's official and all I can say is... thank god it's spring! I can already feel myself stirring from my wintery stupor - here's what I'm looking forward to...

Warmer weather. Duh. And with that comes longer days and warm weather holidays! If you’ve been a busy cultural-city-break-traveller this winter like me (phewf, sight-seeing is exhausting!) then never fear because it’s time to take a break. On a beach. Think sunshine and temperatures in the mid 20s. On my travel wish list: Spain, Greek Islands, Italian Coast, Tuscany, Croatia, Portugal…. You get the idea.

Lacy Delights. Check out these pretty new season arrivals from Adore Me in the perfect pastel spring shades. Whether you are wearing something pretty for yourself [ahem, single girls!] or some sexy lingerie for someone else, they’re sure to pack a feel-good punch. Everyone knows it’s what’s on the inside underneath that counts…

Flowers. I can't wait to whip out a pair of denim shorts (hello legs I knew you were there somewhere) and take a sunlit stroll through a flower-filled park. The daffodils are already popping up everywhere!

My Birthday. I get to have a springtime birthday for the first time this year! Having always been an autumn/broaching on winter baby (May 25), I'm pretty excited to do things the other way around.

Ice cream. I can’t wait to indulge in a one without chattering teeth! Tinkling music and crispy cones delight my fancy for the new season. Tastes like spring, smells like summer.

And finally... not being sick. See ya later winter.

Photos via Pinterest and courtesy of Adore Me.

16 March 2015

Plate Up. Honey Soy Chicken Drumsticks

Now this is what I call finger lickin'ly good chicken. It's another favourite of mine to whip up in my infamously small London kitchen. These honey soy chicken drumsticks have become a trusty go to meal.

Anytime I've got these babies in the oven you can guaruntee my housemates will appear with a "that smells really good" comment. I tell ya, they're a crowd pleaser! And even better, they're easy. So what are you waiting for? Hop to it!

What you'll need (for a single serving)
2 chicken drumsticks
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 dessert spoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed chilli
pinch of salt

What to do
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Combine all your ingredients and coat the chicken well. If you're really prepared you can marinate from the day before. To be fair I never do this and they still taste really flavourful.

Place your chicken in a baking tray and drizzle the remaining sauce over the top. Bake in the oven for 30mins or until nice and charry.

I like to serve mine up with salad and cous cous. Enjoy!

Photo by Krissie.

13 March 2015

Must Have. New Season Must Haves

I’m smiling this week because for us in the northern hemisphere, there’s a spring-like light at the end of the tunnel… And for those of you down below you’re already into autumn. Either way, it means it’s time to celebrate because new season fashion has landed.

Thank heavens because my wardrobe needs a serious overhaul. Never have I spent so much time covered up in winter gear, so I’m chomping at the bit to bare a little flesh.

From quirky clutches to boho skirts, designer creations to the high street, this fashion menu has me salivating. Check out my top picks of new season arrivals. It’s time to get shopping.

Styles from left to right, top to bottom: Skirt by Missoni £1,030, Clutch by Skinnydip £40, Knit by Forever New $70, Boots by Forever New $90, Top by NBD £85, Clutch by Valentino £1,110, Jacket by Forever New $170, Skirt by NBD £160, Dress by River Island £50, Dress by Addison £131, Faux Fur Jacket by Sportsgirl $170, Skirt by Rise of Dawn £40, Dress by Topshop £100, Top by Lovers + Friends £105, Dress by Miss Selfridge £39.

Photo by Krissie via retailers.

9 March 2015

Eat Me. Dishoom, London

To those of you who haven't heard of Dishoom (although you must have been living under a rock), it's a Bombay Cafe that's taken London by storm. With authentic Mumbai, Indian cuisine - this place is a restaurant to behold.

The sheer popular-ness (it makes me so excited I can't even speak properly) of this place is incredible. With three locations throughout London and a no bookings policy, it only took a few months before the hysteria began. Now you can expect to queue for at least an hour for dinner. Cray-cray. But it's totally worth it.

I've had the pleasure of eating at Dishoom for breakfast and dinner now. Both were beyond good. With authentic interior fittings, a tongue-in-cheek attitude and a wafting smell of garam marsala; this place is the real deal. Today I'm going to tell you about breakfast. Dinner is another story.

Breakfast and I have a tumultuous history. My friends know that I've never been a big eater in the morning, preferring to go straight to lunch. And if I do eat out for brunch, I'm usually disppointed. Not here; Dishoom has to go down as my favourite breakfast to date.

I had the bacon and egg naan (hint to you newbies, this is what you order at Dishoom for breakfast, it's sacrilege to try anything else). The bread is home made, the filling is delightful and the tomato chutney that they finish it off with is unbelievably good. I wish I had a bottle of the stuff.

But wait it gets better. There is unlimited chai. Yes that's right. Order one and then they just. keep. coming.

What else do I need to tell you? Come try it already. 5/5

Where: Kings Cross, Covent Garden and Shoreditch
Bookings: only taken for breakfast, come prepared to wait for lunch and dinner
Phone: check the website depending on your location

Photos by Krissie.

Dishoom King's Cross on Urbanspoon

6 March 2015

Suitcase. Rome, Italy – Travel Guide

It would be fair to say that Rome and I got off to a bit of a rocky start. I arrived in the country with what you could only call a DEATHLY flu, my cab driver blatantly took advantage of my delicate state and stole €20 from me, I unknowing booked a hotel room literally the size of a shoebox and I discovered that my European power adapter [that has worked everywhere else in Italy mind you] didn’t fit the plugs in Rome. Cue exasperated sigh.

Needless to say my first day in Rome tested me.

Thankfully, I’m happy to report that over the next four days my trip got better thanks to some awe-inspiring sights and a beautiful friend who made my visit to Rome much more enjoyable. I left with a heart full of inspiration, a stomach full of pizza and a mind full of Italian words.

There are endless sights to see and places to visit in Rome, the length of your visit is your only restriction. In 3 days I managed to see all the main sights including the Colosseum, Roman ruins, Trevi Fountain (which is sadly under renovation until 2016), Spanish Steps, Palatino Hill, Vatican City, St Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum and the Pantheon. I also took a stroll around the lovely area of Trastavere with its shuttered buildings and cobble-stoned streets.

The Colosseum

The Pantheon

The age of this city really is incomprehensible. Most things date back to around the year 0; it simply boggled my mind to comprehend the age of everything I was seeing. When you consider that parts of Australia have been populated for barely 100 years, it really puts it into perspective.

Roman Ruins where Julius Caesar was killed - interestingly this place is now a sanctuary for homeless cats

View of the ruins from Palatino Hill

When seeing the sights of Rome, I highly recommend opting for the organised tour route; as much as you’ll feel like a herd of school children, there is so much more to learn about this city than just what you see at face value. There is a fantastic free walking tour that runs each day for two hours at sunset where I saw some great sights and learnt several interesting facts. A tour for the Colosseum and also Vatican City are pretty much essential, not only for the information they provide but also to skip the lines which are otherwise 2 hours plus at each place, even in winter.

View from the very top of St Peter's Basilica - I highly recommend the climb

Rome has its own version of the underground and while the lines and stops are a little restrictive, it will generally get you where you need to go. Any trip you take is €1.50 and you can buy your ticket at the machine. Just be careful of dodgy entrance gates, I actually got completely stuck once – those things will really wedge you in. Thankfully after some arm-flailing someone came to my rescue.

Cabs frequent all areas of the city but be warned, they are rather expensive and if you’re unlucky you’ll get a driver who will try to rip you off so it’s best to act like you know exactly where you’re going and throw in a few Italian words for good measure.

Depending on which airport you land at you have the option to get a train or a bus into the city. These will take you to Termini (the main station) and from there you can make your way to your hotel. Much cheaper than a taxi the whole way.

Inside St Peter's Basilica 

Italy – food. Food – Italy. The two go together like two peas in a pod. There’s only one general rule for eating well in Italy; avoid the tourist traps and everything else should be perfection. I had a few great meals during my trip, all of which consisted of pizza, pasta and gelato. After all, it’s the Italian trio. Try La Boccaccia in Trastavere for a yummy pizza slice on the go, anything on Via Panispera for Roman cuisine or Antica Pesa for some celeb spotting.

For a city break that’s bursting with culture then you can't go past a long weekend in Rome. Despite the fact that it’s a little rough around the edges, you can’t beat the history and culture that exudes from every square inch of this city. My recommendation? Go with an open mind and an empty stomach. You’re guaranteed to return with both well sated.

Inside Vatican Museum

Inside Vatican Museum

Ciao Roma, arrivederci!

Photos by Krissie.