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Rooftop Level Dining at Tattu London
If my weekends had become about hopscotching around Asian restaurants, I feel certain I had mastered the game. Except after the last meal out, I had specific instructions not to book another Asian, Asian fusion, Asian fused with Peruvian, Pan Asian themed, chopstick food wrestling restaurant. So maybe I didn't, maybe I stepped on a line. So instead, I go for another game, Jacks. I'm shooting for contemporary Chinese and Tattu London on the sixth floor and Penthouse level of the Now Building just off Denmark Street in Soho. At its street entrance, a man in a long flapping skirt (I surmise they were going for the hanfu then changed their minds) checks I'm not simply a walk-in off the streets. Then, more men in flapping skirts verify the said reservations at the building's entrance. And once out of the elevator at the penthouse level, reception stamps approval. With as many checks in place as you would going through Heathrow, we can finally sit. And unlike the last restaurant, I forfeit the view out the framed glass walls for that of Tattu's interiors. I like it. There's less of the chinoiserie, not a pink silk cherry blossom in sight, but I suppose the venue calls not for it. If anything, it struck me a little Hakkasan-Esque, where light has been invited in. Outside, the elevated view concentrates on the crossroads of London's Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street. I've found what would be my best seat in the house, though I'm not seated at it. I'd need a party of at least five but no more than eight to be seated there. It's in the corner of the building nearest the glass walls, and from my position, the round table appears cantilevered. Arranged with a mirroring circular rug under your foot. Tattu is a surprise new restaurant in London. Not so a surprise in Manchester and Birmingham, where they've been for the last four and two years. Cocktails I know because I've been on their website and had my appetite sated, memory stamped. Memory stamped, I'm perusing their In-House drinks menu for the 'Secrets of a Geisha', but it fails to make London's cocktail list. I'm a tad disappointed and opt for the 'Cherry Blossom Negroni' and the other half a 'Hidden Dragon'. While pretty to look at, this Roku Gin, Campari, and inedible cherry blossom concoction lost my cheer. Without saying, I let the other half try to ensure it wasn't the first disappointment leaking onto the other. He, too, shares not in its liquid taste on the lips. I am 6th-floor level disappointed. His Hidden Dragon (their twist on an espresso martini), is an entire theatrical performance. A swinging thurible on a Sunday morning is no competition. Not one to be ordered by the shy and retreating either as it draws all eyes to your table. Matter of fact, if you charged everyone looking a £1, you'd recover the cost of the drink. The cocktail does live up to the fanfare with its coconut flavours making a star appeal. I find it faultless. What We Ate The kitchen is prepped for a full house of early evening diners, and the dishes we fancy a nibble on are rustled out the kitchen. Sticky Beef Short Ribs, flavoursome and gram-worthy, I'd order this again. Bite sized portions of lightly laced Szechuan Red Belly Pork Skewers. A comforting dish where the sauce is the star. Sweet Tamarind Tofu Balls, (tofu addicts may appreciate this) with fluffy, nutty Steamed Jasmine Rice. It's not the authenticity of Chinese cuisine that brings me here. For that, I'd venture over to China Town, next door. I'm here for the flavours and when a mouthful of a dish of Wok Fried Angry Bird said to be loaded with roasted chilli peppers fails to deliver the kickboxing or, better, some kung-fu fighting, I have another fork full to be sure. No change. I let Mr PWT try just in case I'd killed off my taste buds from the night before. He, too, sits comfortably. We could only surmise that the chef forgot to stir fry this one in anger but it is a hearty dish. Tattu London is huge, not including a separate bar area and open outdoor rooftop terrace. Inside, however, the clever break up of the space into four dining areas, disguises this. It is six in the evening; the DJ has put her back into the music. The decibels increase, and you sense the restaurant is getting ready for a more lively, trendy, social media sassy, see-and-be-seen crowd. I instead got ready for the Bubble Tea and Cotton Cheesecake dessert, which I didn't order. And if I were to recommend one other, I recommend this. Its mouthful after mouthful of bubble-bursting fruity taste sensations. Being the new restaurant in town there are no cracks in the veneer. And with the hum picking up after six, I'd come back with a group of friends out for a celebration at the round table on the seemingly cantilevered corner of the restaurant. The food, average, doesnt yet speak for itself but I can see Tattu London gaining a following. Why go: the new place to be, relaxed, celebrations with friends, trendy, live music Website: https://tattu.co.uk/london Location: The Now Building Rooftop, Outernet, Denmark Street, London, WC2H 0LA
27 - What Happens on A Cruise, Stays on The Cruise
Her body language provided an air of shame. Those words struck. Sucked the oxygen out of her, out of the room; words failed. Weak, she leaned on the side of the bed. Em, I was going mad out of my mind when for some two days, I couldn't get you. I rearranged three rotas. I disrupted three pilots' lives because I was concerned about you. So tell me, Em, what am I missing? His face pained, drawn. If Lemara was in the mood for confession, now was that time. But the only thing she could confess to was an ugly substance in her mouth because he was right. None of her actions made sense. Even though she'd moved out, they spoke daily, knew each other's whereabouts, saw each other. She had indeed come on the cruise to clear her head and make the decisions she thought she needed to make, but somehow, the sun, sea and sand, the cruise, cocktails and company had derailed that. What happened on this cruise had begun hitting home. Sick and sinking with feeling, she moved to sit on the bed, but dizziness instead sent her to the bathroom. She hunched over the sink, arms supporting her guilt consumed body. The truth of the matter caused a lump in the pit of her stomach. Even if the end result of her decision was to walk away from the relationship, this was not the way she would have chosen to do so. This cruise and what happened was surely the make or break of their relationship. Em, (his voice came from the doorway) when finishing your Master's, you needed the time to concentrate on what you were doing, and I understood. You had sacrificed time together with me so that I could finish my command course. Then you lost your sister and wanted time away from me, the relationship. I didn't agree, but I respected your decision let you move out for what was an indefinite period. Then you wanted to come on this cruise in honour of your sister. Again I didn't agree, but I know how much the two of you talked about doing that together. So I let you have it because Lemara, there isn't anything I won't do for you. Except marry me. She replied flatly, looking at him in the mirror. Good God, Josh, I've even asked you to marry me (whirling around to him, braids flailing). Do you remember what you said? You said, Em, we are as good as married. Yes, Josh. As if, near as, nigh on, as good as cut it? She'd dismissed that comment with 'hmm' in the past and left it but not today. Instead, she found her fight back. Did you near as, nigh on, as good as, marry your last wife? Arms crossed. Joshua paused, articulating the next set of words to leave his mouth, strengthening his argument. Em, do you know that there isn't a lot I have that doesn't have your name on it that I don't share with you? As a matter of fact, I can name them on less than ten fingers. He raised his left hand, and fingers went up as he listed them off. Birth certificate, driving licence, passport, pilot's licence, the apartment in Dubai Marina and a bank account. The latter two of which are in my and my sister's names. I treat you no differently than I'd treat you as my wife. We are. As good as married. His statement was firm. Matter of fact, I know of married people who don't have any relationship near what we have. At the end of the day, it's a paper. But don't get me wrong, I understand your frustration with our arrangement. Lately, I've noticed you stumble a few times in introducing me. Man, boyfriend, lover, partner, other half. There isn't the luxury of fiance or husband, and I get it. So what are we going to do, Josh? Em, no part of me wants to lose you, but if it turns out that what we have is no longer enough for you, is no longer what you want... He paused, weighed his next sentence before he continued. I'm man enough to let you find someone to treat you as good as I have and better. Never any less. Really? What is with your great refusal to marry me? And if it is not me, what is that saying about you? And am I supposed to continue in a relationship hinged by your past? Rushing past him out of the bedroom. Em, why is this an issue all of a sudden? Because I recall when we moved in together, we had this conversation, and you were ok with it. Surely we have grown past that. What else is there? Is it your mother? Glaring at him, arms crossed. Is it my mother what? Is Eleanor the stumbling block here because we know she loves me. Her tone, that of total contempt. You know what, Em, this is crazy because I have given you everything I've got. This week, I've done as much as disrupt three people's lives, fly across the Atlantic ... Josh, it is your job. Cutting him off. He paused, inhaled. ...To make sure you are ok, be with you, and this is what I get. You make out you came for me, but last night I could not find you anywhere on this ship, and when indeed I did, you were with another woman. Tossing some items into a beach bag. Have you thought that if you weren't otherwise so preoccupied with whatever or whoever and had called me, I just may not have had any reason to come here. And why are you complaining? It gave you a chance to swan off with Maisie. Whose Maisie. Arms, too, going up in question. The flight attendant. Em, what are you talking about? On the way back in the cab from the beach in Mexico, I told you what happened. Clearly, you weren't listening. Was that another of your preoccupied moments? That floored her. She stopped. More air of shame. Do you know what, Josh? Voice frustrated. What Lemara? You know what, never mind? She tossed off her robe, tossed on a kimono over a pair of shorts, tossed a few more things in a beach bag and marched to the door. Em, where are you going? Following her to the door. Out. You mean Harry. The three words snapped out of his mouth. The door swung open, Lemara swinging back with it to find him on her heels. And he's asked you to marry him, has he? Deadpanned. She shook her head in disgust, turned to slam the door, but he barred it, held her arm, but she pulled away. Walked off.
E26 - What Happens on a Cruise, Stays on the Cruise
That line, a hook and a sinker. His words like a wrecking ball had come back at her like an old London Underground turnstile, smacked her in the stomach. Since first leaving his drunken lips, those words loomed like the cumulonimbus clouds they were. But when again they left more sobered ones, toneless though they were, they hit hard. Her stomach churned with a vigour unmatched to the mouthful of whiskey she'd drunk. The contents repeated, choked her windpipe. This wasn't Joshua, the rolling drunk who swaggered in the door and crashed out on the sofa last night. Rather, he came off as sober as a judge. So there was no more supposing he didn't know what he was saying. Now she knew he knew, and that, too, cut deep. Turning into Lot's wife now would be a blessing. That blessing, however not bestowed on her. She swallowed, turned back to him. Josh. She started. I-I. But her lips pursed shut. Unlike her stomach, her brain had not concocted an answer to spew out. No plausible reason, at least, to give her man of four years why she had been holding hands with another. One she'd sworn not to have known until she came on the ship. He, too, said nothing, only appraised her coolly. Josh, I'm a little disappointed in you. Face straight. And why is that? A subtle arch of an eyebrow. Are we now bringing hearsay to our relationship? Well, you don't give me much choice at this point. Seriously? How long have we been together? Four years. (Answering her own question.) Have I ever questioned you on what you get up to when you're away? Have I ever gone through your social media and gone? Who's this? No, because you don't need to. I tell you. You tell me what you remember to tell me. Because so far you can't remember what happened after you left the Sports Bar last night. I told you I went to the ball court? Then what? Ended up at some crew bar somewhere. He'd swung his legs off the bed then; Lemara instead had a sideways view of him. So, on a night when the cruise ship we are on is battling the hell that broke loose between the wind and sea, you chose to go to a crew bar? Em, I honestly cannot remember. But hang on, (turning back to her) are you trying to turn this back on me? Almost laughing. No, I'm not. In truth, she wasn't; she was buying her brain time. But that was the second time he'd done that dismissive laugh for the morning. Well, then tell me what's going on with Harry. Because I do remember suggesting we do this cruise together. You turned me down. Then you got on the cruise, and that was it. Head hanging in her left palm, Lemara massaged an ever-increasing frustration from her temple or was it a response. Because not knowing what means Joshua came across this information would make the wrong answer detrimental. The repercussions... Josh. She started again. His name slow off her lips. Oh Gawd, followed next, but Gawd had long distanced himself from this situation. Eyes closed, she drew on a long breath because whatever answer she gave now would either set her up to dampen a flame or set oil to the flame. I-I-I. Her mind ploughed through but cultivated nothing. Not knowing which of her Key West, walk to dinner, time in the nightclub, late-night pool deck hand holding escapades Joshua was told of left her struggling to answer. Joshua maintained his quiet, none of which helped the discomfort. Yes, that did happen. What did happen? We may have held hands. You may have, or you did? OK, Josh, he did hold my hand. Frustration about her tone. Her answer decided by the fact that one too many people on the cruise would have seen her. But hedged all her bets on the one person she felt may have felt they had something to gain by saying so. And you were holding hands because? Still being cool, calm and collected. I don't know, Josh. He was guiding me through a crowd of masqueraders. He was freeing me from the clutches of a drunken guy. Becoming annoyed, but with whom? So, he had cause to hold your hand once. Then he had another what, he simply forgot to let go of your hands? Moreso, you forgot to let go of his? Josh, it wasn't like that. Then tell me how it is because you came out on a cruise, and it's as if you forgot about me? Tell me something, Lemara, had I not joined you, would you have called, messaged? Of course, I would have. She shot back. When? When I'd cleared my head. When you've cleared your head. When you've cleared your head. (Repeating himself, the second time, monosyllabic). Do you need a clear head to pick up your phone to me and tell me you've arrived safely? Do you need a clear head to message me to say, Baby, I'm on the ship, all good?' Clear your head of what, Lemara? Me?
25 - What Happens on a Cruise, Stays on The Cruise
But he said nothing more. This wasn't one of their silly teases, where if he waited long enough, she'd take the bait, hang herself. And they'd both laugh at her minor misdemeanour. This wasn't one of those; this was a mighty transgression. One she's certain she'd be hanging herself on with no chance of being rescued. The silence taunted; the weight of it across her chest, heavy, crushing. Between a rock and a very hard place is where Lemara now found herself. Which of these would be the lesser of two evils? Damned if she pursued Joshua's events of last night, tormented otherwise. She turned, walked to the huge framed glass walls framing the Caribbean Sea. It was all she could do, think to do, to break the tension. Or maybe somehow the answer was out the glass-framed walls. She heard him sit on the bed as she stared out at the water. Another squall loomed. Josh... Finishing his name like the sound of the waves splashing against the ship. Her stomach tightened, and none of it caused by the robe's belt she just re-tied. Knees weak, she steadied herself to finish the question. But just where was she taking her next statement. Could she ask what she wanted to ask without fear of repercussions? And even if Joshua had completely forgotten those words that left his lips last night, could she deal with knowing that Josh... Hands shoved in her robe's side pockets; she turned to him, he already facing her. There was nothing to detect in that poker face of his. Did Hamilton win that F1 race? She asked sheepishly. No, he didn't. Ohh. The 'ohh' simultaneously a shock and a disappointment. Because now she'd have to rule out drunkenness due to a celebratory win and if it wasn't that, what exactly was it. But he's still in with a fighting chance for his sixth world championship, isn't he? Trying to cut the atmosphere, she was sure the other answer would have done. He is. He lingered on his answer before laying back on the bed, his left hand massaging his temple. I'll go get you a coffee, shall I? Skirting around what she now knew was a massage to massage out a hangover that didn't come from Hamilton winning. Lemara. He called as she passed the bed but felt closer to a summons. Yep. Turning back to him. I've asked this before, but I'll ask again. Did you know Harry before you came on this cruise? With nowhere to look but at him, Her eyes flicked. What? Her voice cracked. (Ooh, Gawd, where did that wrecking ball come from again?) Please. Don't shout. Josh, we've been over this. Why are you bringing it up again? Reducing her snap. Well, Lemara, some things aren't adding up, and if they aren't adding up, I have to find out why. Josh, what is supposedly not adding up? Her shoulders square. Where would you like me to start? Would you like me to start with you not calling or messaging me after you left London? Or would you prefer I started with you not returning my missed calls or reading my messages? Harry's shirt in your room? You lying to me about going to laundry services when instead you went to his room. Her stomach knotted, burned too, at the sound of the word 'lying' leaving his lips. Lemara had to admit even to herself that none of that sounded good. None of that sounded like someone who's in a committed relationship. Em, do you know that I have never not called you after I've landed down route or landed back in London? Even when I know I'll be seeing you within an hour of landing; I have never not called you. At least not since you gave me your number. His words paced. No, Josh, I did not know Harry before this cruise. Redirecting the conversation back to the original question, sticking to what she knew was true. Ok, so why the lie? If the situation is as innocent as you say, why lie? That's just it, Josh. I did not see the need to mention it, as I thought I'd hand the shirt back, and that would be that. Em, do I strike as an unreasonable person? No, you do not, Mr Hart. (Gave him a half-smile.) Now can I go get you that coffee? It was her escape route. Besides that lock their eyes on each other needed breaking and with his lips decidedly sealed, she walked off. Then tell me, why were you and Harry holding hands? Sound stopped. Movement stopped. Please not now. She heard herself say. Frozen, she could not move; her breath completely whacked out of her. Neither could she speak, and she certainly could not turn back to meet Joshua's eyes. Wedged firmly between that rock, a hard place, and now, buried under an avalanche. Have you got anything at all to say to that Lemara? Breaking the silence. Where has this come from? Almost choking on her words. Really, Lemara? Is that your response? Is that what you want to know? Jo-ah. Voice strangled, she stopped, looked to the floor. I'm listening, Lemara. His patience decided.
Aisle or Window Seat When Flying
What's your seat of choice when flying? Are you an aisle seat or window seat passenger? Bulkhead, back of the plane or emergency seat sitter? Do you have a preferred row number or a number or letter you like to avoid? Or perhaps you favour a seat with the letter 'A' or 'J' attached. One of my favourite things when flying (well, aside from travelling the world, taking photos and taking photos while travelling the world) is having a window seat on a plane. I'm a window seat girl! Oops, did I say that out loud? Start the seat wars. Because I can almost see the side-eyes from the aisle seat passengers. Their argument, the aisle seat is best; they have better access to the restroom. No need to disturb anyone to get to the toilet. Here's the thing, no one bothers the window seat passenger for the restroom either. But does being at thirty-five thousand feet have an undesired effect on the bladder? And if it does, just how often is a toilet break required. On the average long-haul flight, I am guessing twice. And certainly, no one in their good mind will be strapping you to that window seat, should you say... Excuse me. Can you let me by, please? And if they were to strap you in, I'd have to question what type of flight you are on. Aisle seat passengers also boast they are the first to disembark the aircraft. Well, not quite, unless in first or business class. But let's concentrate on economy; yes, you may well be the first to exit the aircraft, but who's ever won an Olympic gold medal for disembarking a plane first? Hmm, I'm still googling. Oh, but we have more legroom with an aisle seat. This is another argument. But that aisle space can be more of a grievance than pleasure. Wayward kids tripping on your leg, the airline's trolley bashing into your knee, the tall person walking on your toes. In this case, you may very well get off the aircraft first. Wheeled off on a hospital stretcher. And what about the jobs you get lumbered with as an aisle seat passenger? Passing meals over, then handing the remains back. Forever having to get up when they don't need to. If its not to let us out for the restroom, it's for getting our luggage down, then putting it back, then getting it down again. Somehow, also employing the role of a transmitter. Transmitting of information from the flight attendant to us and vice versa. It's as if you've become an assistant flight attendant, or a butler. Middle seats. Unless travelling as a family or with friends, middle seats are unfortunate seats. You spend your time dodging your fellow passengers' legs and arms. And which armrest should you be haggling for anyway? Is it the left or the right? You need to let the window seat passenger out, but not only that, you also need to ask the aisle seat passenger to let you out. Window seat passengers, however, settle back and unwind into our own world. The glass frame taking us there. Eyes super glued out during take-off and landing. Our cameras coming into fashion, taking camera copies of snow-caped mountains, cloudscapes and, on the off chance, heart-shaped islands like this one. Our unofficial butlers, (sorry fellow passengers in the aisle seats) at the ready. Ready to pass that Sauvignon Blanc when the time comes. When that plane banks, watch your fellow middle seat and aisle seat passengers green with envy, craning their necks for a view out the window. I remember the above photo very well. We just flown out of Luton airport. I bent down to pick up my scarf and when I sat up and looked out the window, my face was as good as parallel with the ground! On this occasion, I was very late in getting that photo, which if you ask me defeats the point of having a window seat. Such a surreal experience I felt like shouting for the pilot do it again! Anyhew! It is a 'Yes' from me for window seats. Quietly pleased that we don't all want a window seat when we fly because then we would all be capturing these spectacular aerial shots. Are you a view out the window passenger or I can go to the restroom without having to ask anyone passenger? Share your views and comments below.
Samurai Warriors and A Bite To Eat at Ivy Asia, St Paul's
You know a place is happening when your teenager declares they want to tag along to lunch with you after hearing of the venue. Still, a little of me wondered, is it that the restaurant is happening, or am I now finally hip and no longer the embarrassing parent? An opportunity not to be missed, I'm dialling the restaurant to increase our table seating to three. But as Ivy Asia St Paul's is hip hop and happening; the restaurant is already fully booked for lunch. Ivy Asia is part of The Ivy Collection covering Ivy Brasseries and Ivy Cafes and is related to such restaurant royalties as The Ivy, 34 Mayfair and the infamous Scott's. As yours truly is yet to grace a table at The Ivy, I'm short-changed to declare how ivy-Esque Ivy Asia is. Though once you've got past their psychedelic green floors, up the stairs past samurai warriors twice as tall as you, got over the dragon murals around the ceiling to sit at your table, you may think - a little Sexy Fish. But that's ok; they too are related. Exactly two weeks prior, I'd passed its vibrant entrance and, seduced by its trendy decor, booked a table for two. I've become wary of such bewitching venues. Restaurants and cafes with more cherry blossoms than Kyoto in spring; charging a cup of coffee at prices near equivalent to the daily congestion charge for the privilege, but delivering coffee of no taste relation. I digress but only a little, but here I am. At 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon, the venue is packed. The atmosphere buzzy, but doesn't border on raucous. Not since Coya have I encountered such a buzz around a restaurant. Except at Coya, there was some anticipation of it. Here there wasn't. I'm also unprepared for the sheer size of the restaurant. Tables for lunch, indeed a sell-out; it feels mobbed like a staff canteen. However, its trendy decor starves it from being so. There's a live DJ, house music playing on the cheesy dip side. It hovers over the crowd like a cloud over a mountain before it rains. Repetitive, harmless, disappointingly un infectious to the gathering or me. From our table, eyes are drawn out the glass sided walls to the dome of St Paul's, an attention-seeking pink blossom tree behind me. For once, I'm undecided about what I want to eat. Small plates, large plates, beef, meat, house specialities, sushi and sashimi. I take comfort in looking at tourists walking around St Paul's dome. But since our seats weren't simply viewing platforms, we got on with the work of selecting our bites to eat. Prawn Tempura, soft shell crab, a crispy duck salad and King Oyster Skewers unhurriedly made it off the menu. The latter, the waiter declares, is vegetarian. Mr PWT and I look at each other then back to the menu. It had taken us this long to get this far, so we stick with our decision. The kitchen may have anticipated our selection as the said dishes are with us in an incredibly good time for how busy the restaurant is. Eyes fall to the soft shell crab, lips moisten at the duck salad, but the brain says pick up a skewer. The sharing plates concept continues here; you know I'm all for this. A look at the King Oyster Skewer, and I wonder how many times the waiter has had to make his declaration. Charred Padron peppers in between chunks of king oyster mushrooms, crowned under cashew nuts for a crunch. Though it was the rich salty-sweet flavour of the miso sauce it came in that made this dish delightful. Flavoursome. The crispy duck salad with generous portions of moist, crispy duck combined with zesty pomegranate and fresh mango dressed in a mouthwatering ponzu sauce. A colourful and exciting dish to look at, delivering mouthsful of the same excitement. Gratifying. Six juicy prawns are served on an oblong dish in a crispy, light tempura batter with a chilli lime and coriander dip. Showstopping. The Soft Shell crab, Nuoc Cham, is the showstopper here (I see now why it's listed under the 'For The Table' section), calling attention away from St Paul's dome to its presentation on the table in a silver metal dish. Whose shape, except for the crab's legs hanging out, distinguishes not from the shape of the crab itself. Unrestrained in its presentation, this showstopper stopped short of being a fine example of the dish it looked to be. I'm pleased we ordered this less as I feel a little heavier than I weigh. I put that down to the meal the night prior. Still, I sip on my Rose of the Orient, reminding me of a certain sparkling pink cranberry drink and cast my eyes over the dessert menu. The WARM PASSION FRUIT & COCONUT DOUGHNUTS with YOGHURT DIPPING Sauce catches attention. Though not mine. These six doughnuts, light and fluffy on the plate, looked a lot. Subtly sweet with the taste of the passion fruit lingering towards the end, in practice finished far too quickly, I agreed to share. Then became unrestrained myself, ordered the Sphere. More PASSION FRUIT in a White Chocolate sphere in YUZU FOAM and CARAMEL Sauce. The warm buttery caramel over the cold velvety foam and the sweet crunch of the white chocolate, a mouth-filling sensation. Though I wouldn't say anymore, only let the video below do the talking. Is this passion fruit and white chocolate, warm caramel sauce, speaking to you? Of course, restrooms in these venues have their own swag. I couldn't pass on sharing this photo. Captured in the gents by Mr PWT. Would you share a cubicle with him? Ivy Asia's first-floor setting, looking across to St Paul's Cathedral, is one of its selling points. Another is its trendy decor, chilled atmosphere. The food saves it too, a good example of Asian fusion cuisine. And the bill, surprisingly, moderately priced and less Sexy Fish on your pocket. That being the case, whom would you have tag along with you to Ivy Asia, St Paul's? Good For: Dining out with a bunch of friends or a friend, younger and older members of the family, date lunch, celebrations, trendy restaurant Website: Ivy Asia St Paul's Address: 20 New Change, London, EC4M 9AG
The Gold Heels to Party in this Summer by Public Desire
Going out this spring or summer? These are the heels you'll want to be seen in. Out for a quiet meal on Saturday evening and... Thank you. Thank you. You're too kind. ...Is how I spent my evening. Saying to everyone from the sommelier to the lady at the next table to the late-night street cleaners. The latter had glanced at my heels, smiled and nodded approval to the other half walking next to me. This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something via these links, I may earn an affiliate commission. The cobalt blue mini shift dress cut a better silhouette on me than the sawn-off red mini skirt initially chosen. But it was the Gold Platform Heels leading the show. Platforms have got their own rage this season; you've only got to open your TikTok to see a parade of them. Though it's these top knot, round open toe, LEO EDITION GOLD METALLIC PLATFORM HIGH HEELS from Public Desire, all six-inch block heels of them, that caught my 'Desire'. There's no teetering about in these either. Walk with confidence; you will. Supported by their chunky soles. They'll give your feet a beautiful, natural arch along the way. And long legs? These are the most cost-effective, pain-free, non-surgical leg-lengthening procédure there is. In these heels, the catwalk calls. Instead of getting a shoe to go with the outfit, you'll want an outfit to match the shoe. This shade of gold extends its warmth to a myriad of colours. White, black and gold, such a partnership Red and gold, such a couple. Blue or better cobalt blue and gold, marry these two. Before exploding onto the streets of London for dinner, I'd first hip-swayed in front of the mirror in a sawn-off red mini skirt, then danced it up in a long black tulle dress. With one outfit diminutive and the other never-ending, my brain settled on the cobalt blue midi dress. The ensemble: sexy, stylish, or was it the way my legs appeared never-ending from the dress hem to the heels? Flattering and comfortable, these heels from Public Desire will see you party all night and through to the after-parties. The must-have pair of heels all through summer and into autumn. To tell you all this but not mention anything of the purse strings is actually my preferred. Why? I want to be the only one stopping the show. But miss a few coins from your purse; you will not. Not even a couple of lattes. Comfortable, sexy, and stylish is the only way you'll feel on an outing in these heels. These heels are true to size, away from punching an extra hole in each ankle strap (slender ankles) to secure the shoe to my feet. Public Desire is a glam international footwear company. Although no longer only about your fashion foot loves, the brand now features clothing and accessories with partnerships/lines exclusive to them. These six-inch gold platform heels are my must-have pair of heels this summer. Love them? Then feel free to let me know in the comments below. Love them enough to wear them? Then, click the 'Click Me' button to shop the same gold heels and the entire Public Desire range.
Travel Chic With Samsonite's Ibon Spinner
Cast your mind back to the luggage and valise of generations ago. Back then, to transport your fineries, you needed trunks the size of storage benches and Ottomans. And to move these trunks unto the steamers for which you sailed, required cranes to lift them on. Their contrasting straps and shiny brass locks called as much attention to their sizes. And when opened up like a clamshell, they revealed their stringed pearls and possibly the scullery sink. Of course, generations on, luggage sizes have shrunk, and with two or four wheels and a tall handle attached, you now wheel them along with your stride, like the superstar you are. As a flight attendant, I bought my first hard cases, part of the uniform specification, decades ago. I've had my chin up, looking forward ever since—the hard cases withstanding my travels of time. Sometimes rolling through terminals so much younger than, they think the luggage cases are vintage. I'm going through another airport today; Samsonite's Ibon Spinner is my new arm candy. Often intrigued by names, I googled the Ibon. It's of Old Norse origins meaning Archer. And if Samsonite has travelled back to Old Norse for this name, I get their train of thought. Travel chic, sleek, saturated with style, here alone Samsonite has arched through the competition. Unafraid to play around with colours, Samsonite has brought this out in black, dark blue, and of all the colours you'd want in a luggage case, the eye candying - Off White. A red trim between the black and off-white rides straight down the middle of the case, setting off the look. Not only an arm candy, but Samsonite has incorporated new designs in unexpected ways. 6 Handle Operation Where is the innovation in that, I hear you ask? There is one retractable handle and five carry handles. Of the five, four are external (see further on for the fifth). With one on each side of the case, it is easily picked up from any position. Have you ever had to 'single-handedly' lug your luggage case up and down staircases? Two carry handles on the top corners of the Ibon Spinner eliminated this. You can now lift your twenty-three kilos of personal possessions with your two arms safely. That phrase, why didn't anyone think of this before, comes to mind. No Clamshell Opening The clamshell opening has remained a mainstay of luggage cases. However, the Ibon has turned this on its side, halving as if two halves of sandwiches. And in doing so, takes up minimal space. It can even be argued it looks much smaller opened than when closed. So little space that we can now have both of our luggage cases open on the bed instead of one packing in the hotel room and the other packing in the hotel's corridor. The conversation about who now has the hallway because they bought the most holiday tat no longer an issue. And if the said conversation (were to become a debate) ensues of whom purchased the most tat, the Ibon can be picked up by its ergonomically placed internal handle and moved, all while open. The decision to move to the hotel's hallway a choice, not the result of losing a debate or at a game of Connect 4. Scratch Proof Hard Shell. An Off White so white, I'll need to turn left on the aircraft from here on in. Surely it's the only way to keep this case scratch-proof and Samsonite's version of 'Off White'. But already put through the 'Nascar' crash test of a US international airport luggage area twice, I am sufficiently satisfied with Samsonite's word. 360° Spinner Wheels Wheels so quiet and controllable, I give it a full three hundred and sixty-degree turn going through Heathrow's Terminal 5. In tune and in time with Elli Eli's I Got Summer On My Mind coming out of my Bose headphones. I catch it back on the beat and stride. Smooth, Controlled. The Inners Compress I want to pack an additional two ball gowns for the two gala nights I have to attend on my cruise, an additional four pairs of heels to match the said gowns. A lady needs choices. However, something tells me it would be British Airways who gets drunk on the poolside piña colada funds they juice off me. Therefore good sense prevailed. But at 76 x 50 x 32 cm, this case sits in Samsonite's large luggage category and will accommodate much. Though, the kitchen sink isn't one of those. And should I have chosen to carry all of the above and the remainder of my wardrobe, here is where the Samsonite has turned flexibility and expansion on its head. Unlike a zippered case that expands for more space and flexibility, the Ibon has a built-in internal slide and compress device. Keeping the case sturdy, eliminating potential security issues. Security Assured I will admit to missing the delay caused by undoing three locks under the watchful eye of a TSA officer. But their glare has changed, and instead, I've become grateful for the one-point opening/closing lock on the Ibon, a first in the industry. Though it brings on the blushes much quicker when the ten pairs of heels, holiday tat, and a voluminous petticoat fall out. Befriending The Environment 100% recycled post-consumer waste, is the composition of the inner lining, which shows Samsonite takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. Center Stage at Baggage Reclaim Have you ever ribboned, stickered, or tagged your luggage case to identify it immediately at baggage reclaim? Then, the Ibon may resign your travel days of doing this. You will not miss this case, nor will the other passengers waiting at baggage claim. Instead, their eyes will be lured and for all the right reasons. I near-guarantee they'll be waiting to see to whom this arm candy belongs. Until the Ibon, my current three hard cases (three different brands, including Samsonite) go back two decades. Have all stood the 'travel test' of time. The test of China, Vietnam, the USA, lots of UAE's, baggage handler drops and the 'Nascar' crashes of baggage handling. Durable. Utmost grateful that no checked luggage of mine has ever been broken into or possessions damaged. Rather, they may well be primed for another ten years. Reliable. With that, I offer my Two (2) Tips for choosing checked luggage: Always choose a hard case/shell Go zipperless Now it is time to turn heads with my new arm candy. My only regret, this case is currently check-in luggage only. Samsonite, can you do us all a huge favour and give the Ibon a smaller sibling, a cabin-sized version. It needs to be seen in the departure lounge and the queues at immigration too. With its ease of packing and wheeling, a cavernous hold and stylish travel look not found elsewhere, it is a notch up on the travel elitist's belt. Having relied on Samsonite as my luggage brand of choice for decades, there's no looking back with this Ibon Spinner. Only eyes forward, wheels rolling, and unwavering trust in their one hundred and eleven years of manufacturing luggage. What's more, the Ibon comes with a ten-year global warranty. Have you any luggage horror stories? I'd like to hear them. With which luggage brand does your confidence lie? Let me know in the comments below.
24 - What Happens on A Cruise, Stays on The Cruise
Though not thunderous because you'd never label Joshua as a shouter or screamer, authoritative, yes, but never a shouter. Those words thundered in her ears. What do you mean? An unexpected chuckle or was it shock that gushed from her lips. I came back here last night looking for you, and you weren't here. Josh, it was me who let you in last night or rather this morning. Maybe this morning you did, but last night I came back, and you weren't in. Josh, when was this? Eyes marooned on him. The question asked, the answer not necessarily desired. Because what is Joshua talking about? What other time last night did he come back to the suite? I came back here after I ran into Jada and her mother. Her brain glitched, a poker face refraining from coming to her rescue, remembering when last she saw Jada and her mom; she was with Harry. Jada, Jada drunk at the bar, Jada spouting she thought Harry was her boyfriend... I went back to the Sports Bar to get you. Piping up. Eyes still marooned on him, her brain went down memory lane in dread. His towel stopped halfway up, drying his three-day-old unshaven face. Poker, painting over any of his telltale signs. And? And you weren't there. I then went looking for you, and since you were nowhere to be found, I came back here. The question is, where were you? A small smile brushed his face. What was that? Wanting to smile back but instead employed the countenance of a stern face guard. What was...? He failed to finish the sentence. Josh, you just smiled after I said I couldn't find you. On a night when our ship was lifted to high heaven, dropped to low hell and smacked from left to right. He sure smiled then, even chuckled but said little more after that, and Joshua is never void of words. Tell you what. Why don't you tell me why you came back here late night bacchanalian and half-naked with Natalie? His eyes darted from her out the glass-panelled bedroom walls, then returned to her still sat on the bed. I came back here with Natalie? The answer soaked in mortification. His response shrunk in volume as he said her name. And even then, her face went a shade of ash as he did. Yes, you did. Her response quick. We had a few drinks. And? That was it? How many were a few drinks, Josh? Shooting back. Honestly, hun, I cannot remember. Had a few in the sports bar with David. The race finished. I went to look for you at the pool bar. You weren't there. Natalie said she saw you, Jada and her mom heading in the direction of the rooms, so I came back here. Wrapping the towel around him as he spoke. He stopped. Both the sentence and the towel wrapping, coming to a synchronised finish. But there it was again, 'Natalie said' and she inwardly flinched. But surely that story isn't finished. Lemara folded her arms side-eyed Joshua. No one spoke. Lemara because her brain played catch up. Was this Natalie's or Joshua's version of events? If Natalie had chosen not to mention Harry, smart woman, but if she had and Joshua had decided not to mention him, now that made her nervous.
Is Rüya Your Regular Turkish Restaurant
Your pull up on the side street for a quick bite after midnight? Something tells me when your sister restaurant sits on the swanky Marina side of Dubai; it isn't. For the discerning lovers of Turkish cuisine, I'll direct you to a fancy side street in W1K 7 Mayfair, the location of this restaurant. I never need to be asked twice about going out to eat. OK, maybe sometimes! But when the link to Rüya's website opened, this wasn't one of those times. I'm summering up a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern-inspired outfit complete with gladiator sandals in my head. Despite it being a biting three degrees celsius out. But some good sense prevails, and later, I am instead grooving to the rhythms of Cheryl Lynn's Shake It Up Tonight as I get into a pair of six-inch gold heels. A cobalt blue mini shift dress finishes the elegant ensemble. After all, I'm heading to W1K 7. We're on time. Mr PWT declares, entering the doors. We aren't. We are an entire stroll down Park Lane, around the block of J W Marriott Grosvenor Hotel and back, ahead of time. His Greenwich Mean timing wreaking havoc with my West Indian ways. Nevertheless, we are now seated in The Mekan BAR, with an open view of the sleek restaurant and a private dining area at the opposite end. The drinks menu is at the ready. However, I do not need it. I've already speed dated their Specialty cocktails and settled on a drink in a red dusted champagne glass. Anatolian Fizz, it's called. Gin, rose syrup, raspberry, lemon and bubbles. As my carmine cocktail glass requires Gram photos before lips can come together with it, I instead take a sip of Mr PWT's Ottoman Old Fashioned. There take on the classic drink, Old Fashioned. It's less bold than accustomed. We put that down to the choice of Bourbon. And whereas Old Fashioned is garnished traditionally with a twist of orange peel, Rüya took a nod to their heritage topped it with a date. I'm not allowed more of his, but I think I have at least captured one attention-seeking photo, and I turn to mine. It's fizzy, alright, zesty too, despite that it's the booze-dust-tang that leaves my lips smacking. Central to the restaurant's decor is a gilt light feature. I'm admiring and secretly hoping the Australian blue opal coloured (though I rather refer to it as Anatolian blue) table sitting under it is ours. To my Turkish delight... Except someone felt it was (I daren't say), and we instead take up our covert operations at another table. The menu promises a food journey across the seven regions of Anatolia. My brain wants to investigate the seven, whereas my stomach desires to make this an all-you-can-eat menu. I LIKE everything I see, though eating everything on the menu is not an option—dietary restrictions in place. The need to fit into an Elie Saab dress I passed in his Boutique's window on the route here (when that time comes) formed part of those restrictions. Nonetheless, grilled octopus, lamb, beef and vegetables escape the restraints. A sujuk pide too escapes those restraints. Hot and fresh from the open house bakery immediately in front us. It is classic but oh so cheesy, spicy and moreish. Two plates are on their way to our table. However, it is the aroma of one that had divinely garnished our noses long before the plate touched the table—both from the small hot plates section. My nostrils lead my gut, leads my eyes, lead my hands to the kebab. A spicy piece of lamb packing a punch of flavours and the thin buttery wrap it came with, earns it a spot up there with super posh kebabs. The grilled octopus offered mouths full of taste sensations, but the kebab held attention. Though the plates got emptier, neither of us spoke. Dishes now cleared, I am almost disappointed, but precedence has been set. I am currently looking forward to the short ribs and the Güveç, a clay pot of vegetables. Slow-cooked for twenty-four hours. A subtle Canadian accent reiterates from Japanese resembling features as she places the plates down. Her name, Eniko, but she is from neither of these places. Meanwhile, our sommelier, Filippo and Mr PWT successfully outwitted each other over the wine selection. At thirteen pages long, the challenge is to stay sober. Still, they settle on a Vourla, a wine from Turkish vineyards, Urla. He tries it. Says it's drinkable. What does that mean? I ask. It is good. He replies, nose still over the glass. Red goes to my head; I dare not try it, but I like the bottle, and it gets my vote. Laughing a little loud. An outsized dish of short ribs and a sizzling hot one of Guvec make their way off the larger plates section. Lastly, a different dish of pistachio pilav rice and more sharing plates add to the redecoration of the table. I'm happy about the latter set of plates, as I have eyes on the short ribs I didn't order. I take a chunk of the ribs. It's chunky alright, has potential, and though the chili in the Turkish chili BBQ glaze is not as bold, it is not bland either. Plates like this keep me a carnivore though I now turn to my clay pot of vegetables. It is good, comforting, but insufficient for me to shift loyalties anytime soon. Along with my gut, the crowd is growing. A smart, young, enlivened set, adding the (Dolby) atmos to the sphere. I am enjoying, too, the contemporary decor oozing flourishes of Turkish heritage. At our table, a show ensues with Eniko, Filippo and Mr PWT engaging in further witty conversations. I'm laughing near embarrassingly loud, belly fulls of it—the hospitality, heartfelt here. I need to know if there is any food more rooted in Turkish culture than baklava. So at our newly discovered Turkish restaurant, baklava was first off the dessert list alongside a scoop of sesame seed flavoured ice cream—Eniko's suggestion of something a little avant-garde. A mouthful, and I want the rest. Crunchy bites of filo pastry and hazelnut become creamy mouthfuls of goodness alongside the whipped kaymak, caramelised milk sorbet it's served with. The sharing plates are now a disadvantage. The sesame seed ice cream is memorable but may not necessarily be for all the right reasons. The bill is here; it can't tap out the card. Instead, it requires the pin code, but we remind ourselves we're sitting in W1K 7. I like it at Rüya, and from 20:30 on a Saturday, the Mekan Bar invites guests to a lively music sesh. Rüya is not just baklava, kofte and kebabs. Rüya is a pricey restaurant with elevated Turkish cuisine and sincere hospitality. Do you like Turkish cuisine? Have you tried Rüya? Then, let's engage in the comments section below. Now I question which cuisine to try next? Which country should we be adding to our dine out stories? Address: 30 Upper Grosvenor St, London W1K 7PH Website: https://ruyarestaurants.com
In Fifty Clicks, Seven Nights Cruising The Caribbean Onboard Holland America's Nieuw Statendam
I've been sitting here long enough in the privacy of our stateroom balcony to witness the inky night sky fully hand over to a warm, sunny, Caribbean morning. Dawn. My bare feet accept the caress of an easy breeze, the same way the hem of my robe agrees to billow in it. Onboard, it appears no one else is as wakeful, seeing how empty of life it is leaning over the balcony, looking from stern to bow, top to bottom of Holland America Line's Nieuw Statendam. Though I know no one would bat an eye, should I call room service to add piña colada number three to number two from last night? No one but myself or Mr PWT next to me. Just what a balcony is for. A cruise on Holland America Line's (HAL) Nieuw Statendam is no start to the end of the cruise party scene. If you have been following my current work in production, you'll know what I mean. If not, then click on that link to check it out. Want to drive bumper cars, zip line across the ship, have robots make your drink? Then you're looking for an activity cruise, and that's not this ship or cruise line. With its clientele more emptied nesters than the ticktock flock, this cruise is more about the ports of call, lounging around the pools, catching a show or two in the evenings and of course, dinners in the main dining room with all your newfound friends. Nieuw Statendam is twelve decks high, ten eateries stocked, sailing half full on a seven-night cruise around the southern Caribbean. Her passengers, mostly from the US. There's a kids club on board too, though sightings of kids were like snowdrops in the summer. Nieuw Statendam is a four-year-old ship, and her very well maintained spaces reflect this. Already one night into the seven, we'd eaten brunch, lunch, snack, and pre-dinner treats, all before the ship set sail out of Fort Lauderdale. Our exercise, a walk through the gym, a lay down in the spa, our respite. But as opposed to telling you about our Caribbean cruise, here it is in just a few photos (fifty plus) of the near thousand we took. Her Exterior On the outside, she's a head-turner for her classic, timeless lines. Her Interior Inside, no one space overly calls out for attention. However, the art pieces in the stairwells and elevator lobbies garner many conversations. See that Starry Night on the right? It's all recycled toys. Where We Ate It is the biggest decision we made on any day. That and whether or not to attend the Bill Withers Appreciation Society Meet Up. It's fair to say we never made it to the meetups as deciding which of the ten bars, restaurants, cafés and speciality diners to choose from, always 'ate' into our time. We recommend Tamarind (a speciality restaurant) for an elegant and romantic dinner, a special celebration. Nami Sushi (another speciality restaurant) for glamorous sushi dining and generous portions that leave you presidentially stuffed. The Explorer Cafe for a quiet afternoon of reading or playing board games to find out just how competitive your other half is. A Dining Tip: Reserve your table in Tamarind early doors. It books up quickly. What We Ate With steak available at breakfast, a side of bacon to go with a bowl of fruit, cereal, ice cream; a side of bacon with a side of bacon, turn down service and Pina Coladas, it's more a case of, what didn't we eat? What can I say? They had the best bacon. Had the cruise been any longer, there's a sense my arteries may have become unthankful. The standout breakfast, the Bento Box. The best coffees we found in the Explorer Cafe. In between all of that, we found comfort in the burger joints, pizza parlours and the all-you-can-eat buffet bars walking from one pool to the next and back again. And by a unanimous vote, the most exceptional dining experience onboard was in the Tamarind Restaurant with its atmospheric lighting. Sea view window seats or centre of the restaurant, the decor as well as the wholehearted service from staff will make your dining experience feel special. And then, there's the food. Each plate, a smile-inducing and taste bud exciting Asian cuisine. Tamarind truly deserved an individual, mouth-watering review, but in the absence of this, I'll let the photos above do the trick. And When We Weren't Eating? You could find us at one of two pools closest to a restaurant. Catching a comedy sketch or dance performance in the state of the art theatre, pre-meal, or shaking a leg or four in BB Kings Live, post-meal. That or losing very badly at a game of Connect 4 to Mr PWT and his espresso martini. Moving to the rhythms in 'BB King Live' past midnight one night and staying out on the balcony to watch dawn give way to the day on another were the most outrageous things we did. Attempts to attend morning pottery classes with a master potter was another. And these were usurped by comical conversations with our stateroom attendants, Made and Gus. With relaxation topping the agenda, other than getting off the ship at the ports of call, we attempted nothing else. Half Moon Cay, Aruba and Curacao ... The ports we called at. Let's face it, away from the all-day lounging and the recurring dining, the stops on an itinerary are the other reasons you cruise. The chance to visit a plethora of new places. This Nieuw Statendam itinerary, the opportunity to speed date the regularly heard of Dutch Caribbean Isles of Aruba and Curaçao. A marriage of all things Dutch. Ooh, Ahh, Wow! Yes, I know. Guess which destination stole our heart chambers? Yes, the sun-dappled Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. (photos 1, 2 and 7) Paradisiacal! It's the only word for it. Only another cruise with Holland America Lines will see us visit this island again. Why? They own the entire island. Not just the crescent beach in the photo above, but all 2400 acres of it. It, therefore, means the people (staff or passengers) on the island are there as a result of the cruise line. The excursions too, are those of the cruise line. We regretted not having the opportunity to horseback on Half Moon Cay. So here's an excursion tip, should your HAL cruise call at Half Moon Cay, book your horse riding excursion asap. You can only book this excursion via the cruise line and it books up quickly! Plus, it would be a shame if like us you missed out too. We suggest beachside dining at The Old Man and The Sea Restaurant at Aruba Ocean Villas in Aruba. Another romantic venue. In Curaçao, we recommend a stroll from the ship, keeping right for the 'Swinging Old Lady'. That's the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge. With time to spare, you may well see her swing open. Even better if you happen to be standing on the bridge at the time. In both Aruba and Curaçao the ship docked. At Half Moon Cay, we tendered back and forth not on the ship's tenders but designated island tenders. Dressing For The Cruise Holland America suggests, casual during the day and formal (tuxedo's, dark suits for the men and evening gowns pant suits for women) especially on gala nights. Yours truly expanded on the above with resort casuals, casual chic during the day and more dressy resort casuals and semi formals for the evenings. Here's a Look at my Cruise Fashion Runway and what I mean. Include lots of reds, blues and stripes. Some days we even twinned in pinks and whites. After all, every colour looks good under the Caribbean sun. A Fashion tip: Bring lots of linen and cotton clothing for a Southern Caribbean cruise in December. Shorts, skirts and dresses that are floaty. And for the evenings, at least two elegant outfits (one sparkly) because HAL gives you two gala nights on a seven-night cruise as opposed to one. Besides, you can never be overdressed on a cruise. These are some of the pictures capturing our seven-night cruise. Lots of laughter, eating, picture taking, getting dressed up to go eating and more picture taking. Eighth cruise but the first time with Holland America Lines, and we found it a very, very relaxing cruise. Just what cruising is about. That and for another chance to dine in Tamarind and another visit to Half Moon Cay, we'd cruise HAL again. For sure, we'd cruise Nieuw Statendam again if only to listen to Captain O'Driscoll's daily midday public announcements. Comical, plus that Irish accent gets me every time! There's something about a cruise holiday that you don't experience anywhere else. Maybe having the ocean as your neighbour is part of it. The sound of the waves. That oceanic air opening your lungs, allowing you to breathe more freely. Or perhaps it's all of the above. Holland America Lines operates eleven ships in ninety-eight countries and are regularly voted Best for their Alaska itineraries. So perhaps this is the next cruise we need to book. Have you cruised with Holland America Lines, or are you planning to? What is your favourite thing to do on a cruise? Let me know in the comments below.
Lunch with The Lady Ostrich at Yopo Restaurant
They say you can't put a price on happiness, but at The Mandrake hotel's South American flavoured restaurant Yopo, they have. They've not only priced it; they've made it into liquid dopamine. So what should I expect? An escape from reality? Psychedelic dreams? Dopamine heaven? Time will tell. Only now, I'm fixated on the raindrops sky diving off the ferns above to the central courtyard. It's where we want to retreat to after the meal, this tree fern-covered courtyard. Except the back end of Eunice's wild partying dictates differently. Instead, our table inside Yopo, heavily guarded by a lifesized ostrich on the mark, getting set to go, is a calm respite. Its creation from recycled materials, a conversation piece. She (must be with such high-end plumage) looks sufficiently friendly. Satisfied we'd come to no harm from this majestic creature, attention turns to the menus now in front of us. Paper versions of the ones we've perused three times before online. The third time just on the journey to the restaurant. Under the watchful guard of Lady Ostrich, we peruse the menu as if seeing it for the very first time, assigning or rather reassigning who has what. The options tempting, we choose from octopus filled Tacos and broccoli salad in hazelnut cream (starters) to Elwy Valley Lamb and Cornish roast pollock (mains), and why stop there? Mezcal granita and sorrel sorbet for dessert. On its way to our table is an order of Rioja and a glass of liquid sunshine. The latter is mine because red goes to my head and not in a good way. I take a sip. Ginger, elderflower, carrot and sesame, tussle for my taste bud's attention, engages my brain and sends me a feel-good feeling. This drink is officially called Happiness. Though only a rock glass of it, I share and cheers. My brain now delights in telling me one thing I should have expected. A carafe of it. Lady Ostrich approves by staying put, and our whippet-slender model, hair to her waist is cleared to lay down the first of our plates. As a matter of fact, we smelled it before it arrived. The smokey Tropea onions with long-stemmed broccoli in hazelnut cream, that is. Its aroma, ambrosial, garnish the air, I inhale even more. A mouthful, and I feel certain I have been missing out. We no longer recall who inevitably ordered this dish, but ownership no longer matters with sharing plates. It is now down to who has the last mouthful. The gentleman in Mr PWT offers it to me (or maybe it's the Brit in him). I, however, suffers not from the Britishness of offering it back, so I happily finish it. In comparison, the octopus, capers and avocado filled tacos ate slightly subdued in flavour. We take another look at Lady Ostrich and note her neckline is snakey. A conversation erupts on the procedure of that platysmaplasty, but I sense she prefers our discussion on food. Plates three and four are making their way to our table. The camera eats before lips become acquainted with the regional fare. Pollock so fresh you almost taste its origins off the Cornish coast. The lamb tender, garnished simply with coco beans and sesame mole, is enjoyable. Holds its own conversation. At this time of the afternoon, we have missed the crest of the crowd. There's a quiet hum, and the space feels more intimate. We take time to admire the mural-covered ceiling, the artist's recreation of an Amazonian jungle-themed tree, in the center of the room, and we like. Outside, the raindrops are sparse. Staff busy themselves, drying the outdoor tables, chairs and patio floor. We may well be able to languour the remainder of the afternoon there with another glass or three of something from Waseka Bar. Inside, we sense an up note in the atmosphere, too, as tables transition into their evening outfits; tea lights, deep red roses. The music changes tempo and party purple lights up Lady Ostrich. Dessert is ready. It arrives served not by one waiter but two and pineapple in tow. Interest in the pineapple pipped by the attention-seeking rough-hewn sandstone bowl one of the desserts comes in - the Mezcal granita. It is delighting our taste buds just as we noticed raindrops once again skydiving off the fern tops. This time with a little more vigour. Maybe they've had a little of the Mezcal. Our mouths, now the homes of a carnival of tropical flavours, the mango and coconut getting jiggy. The sorrel sorbet fuels its own conversation, the clementines adding a zesty twist to the desserts' sweetness. Though we've resigned ourselves to the fact that the rest of the afternoon will not be spent languorous in the courtyard, our dopamine levels stay high. But before we leave, we take another trip the very instagrammable restrooms. Why go: date nights, first dates, lunch with the girls, impressing your guests, romantic dining, food with a Latin European flair, relaxed, stylish decor Address: 20-21 Newman Street, London W1T 1PG Website: https://www.themandrake.com/yopo-restaurant