Pavement Talk

Corner Room, Hackney, London
My new favourite spot in East London. Hidden away upstairs in the imposing, deco-style Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green, is the less formal sister to the michelin starred restaurant downstairs, Viajante. Dishes, or perhaps creations is a better word, include prawn porridge, iberico pork with bitter leaves and winter relish and chocolate pasta with watercress. I’m not really a fan of experimental for experimental’s sake but head chef Nuno Mendes manages to create really thought-provoking and inventive food that’s still amazingly tasty and seasonal. Fine gastronomy without the stuffy white tablecloths: my kind of place.

Corner Room, Hackney, London

My new favourite spot in East London. Hidden away upstairs in the imposing, deco-style Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green, is the less formal sister to the michelin starred restaurant downstairs, Viajante. Dishes, or perhaps creations is a better word, include prawn porridge, iberico pork with bitter leaves and winter relish and chocolate pasta with watercress. I’m not really a fan of experimental for experimental’s sake but head chef Nuno Mendes manages to create really thought-provoking and inventive food that’s still amazingly tasty and seasonal. Fine gastronomy without the stuffy white tablecloths: my kind of place.

Bone Daddies, London

Little Ramen bar in amongst the sex shops of Soho. A buzzy, relaxed place, and their warming bowls of noodle soup pack a real punch. I might have to go and hibernate there over Winter…

Maltby Street Market, Bermondsey, London

A foodie’s paradise. It’s a younger and more bohemian sister of Borough Market, since lots of the stall holders at Maltby have actually uprooted from Borough, now that pitches have become so expensive due to the huge popularity with tourists and City workers alike. Maltby, on the other hand, still maintains a really lovely, relaxed and rustic feel, with it’s eclectic assortment of beaten up, old wooden stalls and deck chairs running the length of it, to sit and enjoy the buzz of the market with the ubiquitous falafel wrap and carrot & beetroot juice.

100 Hoxton, London

Utilitarian, Bauhaus-inspired style gives this new restaurant in East London a pop-up, make-shift feel (but much to my excitement it’s here to stay!) 2 minutes from Hoxton Station, it’s a bit further north and out of the frenzy of Shoreditch, but clearly it’s an up and coming area based on the latest openings of this and Beagle, under the arches. A fusion of East meets West, there’s lots of innovative, Asian-inspired plates to share and some lovely, original cocktails. A good deal too - 5 sharing dishes for 2 people at only £15pp, which is great for greedy people like me who like to try a bit of everything. Try the chargrilled prawns with chilli salt, pepper & lime, and the pan-fried duck breast with mushroom, courgette kimchee and cashew beer butter.

John Salt, 131 Upper Street, London

Uber trendy, industrial style interior design and intriguing tapas food by Neil Rankin. Start with one of their delicious cocktails like the Angel’s Kiss with Somerset Cider Brandy, Gin, fresh raspberries, pineapple juice & sage. For food, we shared the scallops with burnt fennel, chilli and lime; the razor clams, pit roasted onion and samphire; the feather blade with onion, and the highlight - “ham & egg” (a delicious scotch egg with rich, flaky ham). Quirky Mad Hatter desserts like Earl Grey cream, burnt toast and marmalade too.

Note: Dishes so small you might need a burger from next door afterwards.

Cavalière, South of France

The best thing about Provence (apart from the gorgeous weather & scenery…) is the fabulous Mediterranean produce. One of my favourite lunches: tomato, red onion and avocado salsa with lots of smelly French cheeses and a pain aux céréales all fresh from the local Monday morning market. Simple mais délicieux!

Cavalière, South of France

The best thing about Provence (apart from the gorgeous weather & scenery…) is the fabulous Mediterranean produce. One of my favourite lunches: tomato, red onion and avocado salsa with lots of smelly French cheeses and a pain aux céréales all fresh from the local Monday morning market. Simple mais délicieux!

Blanch & Shock @ Kitchen Party

The website describes it as an immersive dining, drinking and entertainment concept… In layman’s terms, it’s a big townhouse near Exmouth Market with each room as a different pop-up. We went for the Blanch & Shock room - the famous London chef duo run a design studio meets catering company - and it didn’t disappoint. Some of the weird and wonderful things we had: raw 8 day cultured butter, sorrel ice, air-dried beef, sour meringue, salt beef (that had clearly been cooked so slowly that I almost expected it to start moo-ing). It was definitely a feast for the senses. Cocktails from the Bourne & Hollingsworth room were to die for as always. And if you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of the 1920 Soviet Russian revellers next door too…

£36 for 5 courses http://www.kitchenpartypopup.com/

Flamingo and Mangrove tour, Celestun, Mexico

Even if you’re not a keen ornithologist, this tour really is worth the visit to the tiny, unassuming town of Celestun. We saw hundreds of beautiful fluorescent flamingos, and got right up close to a floating tree full of enormous nesting pelicans, as well as lots of other varieties of exotic birds. And if you’re more of the adventurous type: going full throttle in a speedboat careering straight for a dense wall of mangroves swerving at the last minute into a hidden opening that opens up into a cave of eerie, gnarled looking mangrove forest, should provide your thrills!

Hacienda Uayamon, Campeche, Mexico

Mayan architecture and crumbling, overgrown ruins hidden within the Mexican jungle… It might sound like a scene from Jumanji, but it’s actually the ruins of an 18th Century hacienda beautifully restored to a colonial luxury hotel & spa close to the walled city of Campeche. A turquoise pool with decaying walls and ancient pillars, and centuries-old silvery trees towering eerily over a dusty courtyard create an ethereal, forgotten world (with all the mod-cons of course.) There are 12 individual villas known as “casitas”, some with outdoor bathtubs if you like to be at one with nature (and the resident iguanas). Romanticism personified.

If you’re not a Sex and the City fan this won’t mean much to you, but if you’re a fanatic like me - you’ll know exactly what this is: the restaurant where Carrie meets Aleksandr Petrovsky’s ex-wife for lunch in the final episode. The restaurant is called Kong, and has become a Paris institution since the TV series. It might not have the best food in Paris, it might not have the best cocktails in Paris, but when you walk in and see that sweeping view of Pont Neuf and those kooky Japanese chairs - you know you’re in Carrie’s chic, Manolo Blahnik trodden Paris. Just add Manhattan.

If you’re not a Sex and the City fan this won’t mean much to you, but if you’re a fanatic like me - you’ll know exactly what this is: the restaurant where Carrie meets Aleksandr Petrovsky’s ex-wife for lunch in the final episode. The restaurant is called Kong, and has become a Paris institution since the TV series. It might not have the best food in Paris, it might not have the best cocktails in Paris, but when you walk in and see that sweeping view of Pont Neuf and those kooky Japanese chairs - you know you’re in Carrie’s chic, Manolo Blahnik trodden Paris. Just add Manhattan.