I’m hanging on by my fingernails. The few precious, beautiful city days we had in London this year were way too few and far between. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t make the best of the season by throwing all caution to the wind and loving some urban adventures! Not only did I stuff my face every weekend with some of the best grub the city has to offer, I also managed to squeeze in a little wine sampling and musicals to boot. All of these activities and events were a great way to ‘travel local’ and have breaks between trips to sip, savor and wile away the summer days.
Trader Vic’s Malibu Summer Pop-up
We visited Trader Vic’s inside the Hilton Park Lane over the winter and instantly fell in love with its famous history, strong Mai Tais and tasty food. When word got out that they were partnering with Malibu for a summer of fruity drinks and décor, it was time to head back in August. There are cozy corners all over the place to sip on some classic Pina Coladas that go great with my favorite thing on the menu – real crab rangoons. Be still my heart. Those are hard to come by in London! Trader Vic’s is always hosting trendy events, from their live music and super late night hours on the weekends to Arabian Night festivities on Sundays. It’s such a treat to bring visiting friends and locals there to start (or end) a great night out on the town.
Sunday Brunch at Chez Mal
No more does New York City hold the title of best brunched in my mind. It took a moment to trek to Clerkenwell on a hot summer Sunday, but the journey was well worth the reward. Chez Mal, in the Malmaison Hotel, was wonderful sensual and the perfect place to wile away the late morning hours over a fantastic brunch spread. For about 22 pounds per person you have access to an incredible spread of hors d’oeuvres that could easily be the main event. But the brunch also includes a soup of the day, main plat and dessert to finish. After my fill of charcuterie, blueberry pancakes and sticky toffee pudding I was ready for a big afternoon nap.
Sampling Château de Berne Wines at Les 110 Taillevent
This soiree was certainly a highlight of the summer. The vineyard and winery based in Côtes de Provence made a trip to London to introduce its line of incredible Rose varieties. Now rose sometimes gets a bad wrap, especially because pink zinfandels in the states that look like it is served in a box, but in reality it can be amazing quality and beautifully complex. I Hadn’t tried several rose at the same time before, which showed a true spectrum of tastes and flavors for each bottle. Château de Berne wines are rolling out a few types at local shops in London, including the stunner “Berne OR Rosé 2015” at Waitrose. I hope to visit their property in France someday in person, as it’s said to be wonderfully scenic and luxurious. After a few tipples of pink, we had a few more bold red and white blends to go with a decadent lunch at Les 110 Taillevent, which highlighted a perfectly fluffy langostine ravioli and beef tenderloin. Classic, perfect and delicious.
West End Show Season
Having the West End practically in my backyard has been a dangerous thing. Sure, I’ll drop everything on a Tuesday afternoon to hike into central and see a pricey show! To be fair, I have scored some great deals. While I’m still waiting to muscle my way into Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I’ve loved seeing Aladdin recently with X on our anniversary. A friend and I caught Guys and Dolls when Rebel Wilson was making a cameo – and she absolutely killed it. Kinky Boots was also on the roster when a friend was home was in town, and I don’t think I’ve had that much fun at the theater in a long time. We did catch Cats as well in Eastbourne on a quickie holiday, which was honestly super crazy and weird. But the incredible talents of the actors who could dance like no other made it worth seeing the iconic show live on stage.
A Branson BBQ
X is making a cameo on this one, as he went to an amazing event for me and ate all the things. I know, tough life.
“Last month, I attended a #BringOutTheBranston barbecue at the London Barbecue School in Peckham. This event paired pit masters with Branston-inspired marinades, sauces and recipes to create some incredible dishes. My favorite recipe used Branston’s caramelized onion chutney in a marinade to make delectably sticky pork chops that we then charred on Kamado Joe barbecues. Also on the menu were Branston-braised steak with blue-cheese coleslaw wraps, grilled chicken with fresh salsa, and a new classic – giant beef burgers slathered in Branston’s new Rich & Smoky BBQ sauce. Paired with a beer (or beverage of your choice), it was the perfect way to spend a late summer’s eve. I loved learning about BBQ techniques and all the different varieties of Branston I can use at home on the grill.”
AEG’s Tasteology Event
Although this was technically late spring, it was an unforgettable start to the warm season. AEG has released an incredible documentary, called Tasteology, all about food sourcing and what it means to really immerse in flavour. Alongside the exclusive screening at the Andaz Hotel, top chefs prepared a course for every section of the film to go along with each theme. We dived into some incredibly eats, including salmon prepared four ways, beef tarte with make-your-own mix-ins and a passionfruit ganache. It was all wonderfully indulgent.
Lunch at Ottolenghi’s
It’s so interesting when people come to visit from out of town and have their hearts set on doing that ONE London thing they’re itching to do. Oftentimes it’s seeing Buckingham Palace or having high tea, but my friend Joy was hellbent on visiting one of Ottolenghi’s restaurants. It was so worth it. Yotam Ottolenghi’s style of infusing Middle Eastern recipes with a western twist is refreshing, healthy and so damn good. We spent all afternoon at his deli-style café in Belgravia.
Easy Meals in Clapham with the Great British Meat Co.
Being spoiled rotten, we often eat out a lot in South London, especially when it’s warm out. But X and I were certainly missing the meals we used to make at home in Boston. So after finally investing in a little grill for our outdoor space, we couldn’t wait to find some prime cuts of beef to sear and enjoy. Although the local shops have good varieties, I fell in love with the amazing quality offered by the Great British Meat Co. It takes all the guesswork out of shopping for meals, as they will send packages to your front door packed in ice and ready to go. You know I’m a huge fan of home delivery now, as it saves time and money not needing a car in the city. Not only were the steaks some of the most tender I’ve had in the UK, the chicken and pork was also super tasty and easy to cook. Just a little broccolini doused in balsamic vinegar grilled up next to our steaks and we had a meal fit for royalty. The steaks and other meats luckily freeze well, so we can still enjoy a few pieces left well into the fall.
Baba Boom’s Grand Opening
I cannot be held accountable for what happens when someone put a kabab in front of me. They are the epitome of late-night food in London, with shops lining the high streets in every neighbourhood. However, I love what the guys are doing in Clapham Junction at Baba Boom by elevating this street food onto a whole other level. Super fresh, fun vibe and plenty of drinks keeps this brad new watering hole packed. I might never go back to greasy shish on the street again. Well, maybe.
What were the highlights of your summer? What do you love about summer in London?