Afternoon Tea with the Biscuiteers

When in England, afternoon tea is a must.

Whether you want to have afternoon tea on the Thames while watching the Houses of Parliament and Southbank sail past, or melt into enormous sofas at the Ritz or Savoy, London has an afternoon tea for every occasion. But they all come at a steep price. Today, I have a great alternative for you.

The Biscuiteers, with boutique cafes in Notting Hill and Battersea, is absolutely not to be missed. Starting out as an online biscuit gift company, every biscuit is handmade and individually iced by artists. They are simply the most beautiful biscuits I have ever come across. Their boutique cafes are pretty small but absolutely gorgeous, and they do a London Afternoon Tea!

Their London Afternoon tea includes a selection of their iconic biscuits, alongside finger sandwiches, scones and cakes. We were a little disappointed that there was only one bite-sized scone each (as great scone lovers), but for just £48 for two people it is one of London’s most reasonably priced afternoon teas.

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The Biscuiteers aren’t limited to biscuits though, they also do chocolate and cake gifts and offer bespoke services so you can commission whatever you want. They’re also not limited to London, they have worldwide shipping so you can enjoy these treats wherever you are.

Even if you can’t make it to their afternoon tea any time soon, their biscuits make incredible gifts – or just something special to treat yourself to!

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A London Bucket List

As you all know from my 2016 Goals post, exploring London is one of my resolutions. There’s just so much to do here, you can never run out of inspiration. As promised, I am blogging all of my adventures, but I’ve been creating a mental list of ‘places to visit’ for quite a while now and I thought it was about time I shared.

Whether you live here, are planning a trip or just need some inspiration for your own hometown, I hope this comes in handy!

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*26 Grains: This is top because it was my obsession with wanting to go here that inspired this blog post! Neal’s Yard is a little crook of Covent Garden that I’m desperate to explore anyway, but 26 Grains serves up London’s prettiest porridge. If you like Instagramming your food, bookmark this one.

*Bob Bob Ricard: This wonderfully eccentric restaurant is decorated in the style of a first-class dining car of an Edwardian train, with Art Deco booths and the infamous ‘press for champagne’ button. It’s a little pricey so best saved for a special occasion.

*Columbia Road Flower Market: A blogger’s favourite. If you haven’t admired pictures of the blooms at Columbia Road, I strongly suggest you do. East London’s flower market is open every Sunday and with independent shops and cafes also lining the street, there’s plenty to explore after picking your bunch.

*Madison: Famed for it’s incredible view of St Pauls, I am cheating a little bit here because I’ve already visited this rooftop bar. But that was a few years ago and I’m itching to go back! With an amazing cocktail menu and plenty of tapas to choose from, this is the perfect stop for evening drinks.

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*National Portrait Gallery, Vogue 100: A Century of Style: I love the National Portrait Gallery, it is easily my favourite museum in London. Their Audrey Hepburn exhibition caused quite a stir last summer (and it was amazing), but I’m now desperate to visit Vogue 100. Celebrating British Vogue’s centenary by showcasing its photography through the years, this one is a magazine junkie’s dream.

*Duck & Waffle: London’s highest restaurant and open 24/7 – I’d love to get up super early and watch the sun rise over London from here. The lift is almost as well known as the restaurant itself, glass-sided and ‘express’, it whizzes you up those 40 floors in unbeatable style!

*Modern Pantry: Apparently, this is the spot to eat amazing eggs. Though to be honest, it was the seating thar first caught my attention. Set in a traffic-free courtyard which acts as a suntrap, it sounds like the perfect place for a casual, alfresco brunch one summery weekend. 

*Go to the ballet: When I was younger, I was a very keen dancer so I’ve been lucky enough to see a few ballets in London. It’s been a few years though, and I’d love to go back. My preference would be The Nutcracker (because is there anything more festive?) but I’m keeping an eye out for anything that looks interesting before next Christmas.       

Brighton’s Favourite: Cafe Coho

I always jump at the chance to visit Brighton. It’s just such a happening place. Whether you visit in summer to sit on the beach, eat ice creams and pick your favourite beach hut, or in winter to duck in and out of the shops in the Lanes and find the best cafe for tea, there’s always something to do.

After spending the morning wandering around the Lanes, Tiarnan and I felt in need of a spot of lunch. Located in the heart of Brighton’s famous lanes and just two minutes away from the beach, Cafe Coho seemed a great shout.

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Cafe Coho occupies a Grade II listed building on Ship Street. With free wi-fi and over 60 seats, including outdoor seating with blankets, it’s the perfect place to hide away with a book for a couple of hours. It has also won the accolade ‘Brighton’s Best Loved Cafe’ – a big claim.

The vibe is rustic and friendly. With exposed brickwork and reclaimed wooden surfaces, the seating is a bit squished but that adds to the cosy atmosphere. They also have a pretty good food selection, although I’d recommend stopping by for a snack rather than a full on meal (but I have heard their breakfast is particularly good). It is their coffee they are proudest of, though. With a good selection and the promise of latte art, it’s a fun place to stop for a caffeine pick-me-up.

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If I’m honest, I’m not in a tearing hurry to go back. It’s nice, but I prefer the warm, bready smell and delicious cake selection at the Flour Pot Bakery in Sidney Street. But then Brighton is all about the eclectic mix of cafes and if you’re into your coffee, this is a great one to check out.

The Mae Deli Breakfast

Today I’ve got the best kind of treat for you. A guilt free one.

The Mae Deli has been on my radar ever since it opened late last year. Opened by Ella Woodward (aka Deliciously Ella) and her fiance Matthew, Ella is a health goddess to anyone in the know, with her inspiring Instagram and bestselling cookbook. Now, you can enjoy her food without risking a disaster in the kitchen. In fact, you don’t even need to enter a kitchen!

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I usually find these health cafes over-priced, not that tasty and a bit, well, intimidating. I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised by The Mae Deli. It is a little on the pricey side I grant you, but I feel that you really get what you pay for. The ingredients are great, the food is delicious and the smoothies are pretty enormous (Tiarnan and I couldn’t finish ours!) The atmosphere is very cosy and welcoming, and the staff are absolutely lovely. Also, Ella and Matthew are running around like everyone else – so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to fan girl.

We went for breakfast (we’d particularly recommend the avocado on rye bread and the bircher muesli – both delicious!) but they also have plenty of mains for lunch and dinner, and all kinds of sweet treats and snacky options throughout the day. There are also plenty of hot drinks, smoothies and cold pressed juices on offer. And, if you hadn’t quite got your fill, there is Mae granola and rye bread for sale and signed Deliciously Ella cookbooks, so you can take a slice of The Mae Deli/Deliciously Ella life away with you for your own kitchen.

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They are in a great location, tucked away just behind Selfridges at Marble Arch. I’m excited for warmer days when we can pop in for a smoothie and enjoy it while strolling around Hyde Park. But while chilly January is still here, I’d highly recommend waiting for a seat (space is a little tight to be prepared to queue), sinking into their baby blue cushions and taking your time over food so delicious, you won’t even realise it’s guilt-free.

Lunchtime at Borough Market

Find yourself in London at lunchtime and not sure what you want to eat? I have the perfect place.

It’s a bit shameful that I’ve only just visited Borough Market, to be honest. Whenever I come into London by train (which I’ve been doing very regularly for 21 years) I roll right next to its glass roof, and it is on the same street as my office. So in a bid to make up for lost time I popped down last week for lunch and I wasn’t disappointed.

Borough Market is bursting with atmosphere, even on a miserable January day. With stall holders bundled up while calling you in with their deals, and plenty of hungry punters prowling the stands in search of the tastiest offering, it’s a foodie’s heaven. With grocery stalls, delis, bakeries and street food, you’ll want to sample everything and the best thing about a food market is you can!

So skip breakfast, go hungry and get stuck in. Pick up a fresh juice to fuel you round the stalls (but be prepared for frost-bitten fingers), choose the best looking street food and take a bag to stuff full of fruit and veg before leaving. The best kind of London lunchtime.

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Very sadly, my offices are moving in a couple of months, so I won’t have this foodie delight on my doorstep for summer lunching adventures. However, I have heard that the ice cream is to die for so I will be back…

If you are in London I’m sure you’ve already been, but there’s always something new to try at Borough Market right? So wrap up warm, brave the cold and you will be rewarded with whatever warming street food takes your fancy.

Teatime in Paris

This weekend, Tiarnan and I popped on the Eurostar over to Paris. They say “the best thing about London is Paris” and while I can’t entirely agree, we are certainly very lucky to be able to visit so easily.

Christmas meant that our budget had taken a hit, so we decided to skip the restaurants and soak up the cafe culture instead. What is more French than sitting out on the pavement drinking coffee? Here is a little round-up of my favourite places we stumbled into when it got too chilly outside.

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*Angelina: Paris’ most famous hot chocolate. As it’s just behind the Jardin des Tuileries on Rue de Rivoli, it is the perfect pit-stop after a morning in the Louvre or some shopping on the Champs-Élysées. They are known for their signature Chocolate L’Africain, and we didn’t even hesitate in ordering it. It is the thickest, creamiest hot chocolate I have ever had. It is made from four different cocoa beans to make it really rich and sweet but be warned, finishing one is no easy feat.

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*Ladurée: A towering force of all things sweet on the Champs-Élysées, we felt we couldn’t leave Paris without a quick visit. As the best known maker of macarons in the world, we left Sunday afternoon open to sample some, just before we got back on the Eurostar. Inside, the decor is wonderfully decadent, with queues stretching through the boutique with everyone desperate to get their hands on the iconic green box filled with pastries. We were settled on a table in the corner, where we could watch the hustle and bustle and compare macaron flavours. Our verdict: don’t miss the pistachio.

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*Berthillon: This is one of my stranger suggestions for deep midwinter, but bear with me. We tried Air BnB for the first time on this trip, and got a really cute little apartment on Île Saint-Louis, just above Paris’ most famous ice-cream parlour. It seemed rude to not try some! We skipped the queues by going late in the evening as an after dinner sweet treat. If you are there around Christmas, try the gingerbread ice cream. With little pieces of gingerbread mixed into the deliciously smooth ice cream, you won’t regret feeling a bit cold after eating it!

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These are Paris’ most celebrated stops for coffee and pastries (or ice cream), but we also spent the weekend grabbing breakfast from boulangeries and stopping at cafes by the river to warm up. And we are already planning a return trip to try more … a weekend in Paris is just not enough.

London Lunchtime: Muriel’s Kitchen

This Friday, Mum came to London. With holiday to take and not visiting the city as often as she used to, a girlie day was in order!

After spending the morning hiding from the rain in the V&A (an absolute must on the London museum hit list) we had worked up an appetite. We wandered back towards South Kensington with rumbling stomachs and greedy eyes, and stumbled upon the most perfect little place. Allow me to introduce you to Muriel’s Kitchen.

Muriel’s never fails to catch my eye when I’m in the area. Nestled behind South Kensington tube station, I have looked longingly into the cake filled windows many a time as I’ve rushed past. Fortunately this time, we didn’t have to rush anywhere.

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Muriel’s Kitchen takes inspiration from traditional family recipes and firmly believes in the kitchen being at the centre of the home. Inspired by and named after the founder’s own grandmother, Muriel’s is meant to bring some homeliness to London’s hustle and bustle. It has offerings from breakfast to bedtime and only uses the finest, British sourced ingredients and many of the recipes are some of Muriel’s own. With locations in Richmond, Soho and South Kensington, Muriel’s’ chefs prepare and cook their meals fresh everyday. Where they can, they buy direct from family-run businesses.

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If that’s not enough to draw you in, then the interior sure will. Again inspired by Muriel, the restaurants pay homage to her 1950s kitchen. Crammed full but beautifully bright, noticing the details around you is part of the fun of waiting for your meal! Pots and pans cover the walls, prints, mirrors, plenty of plants and recipe books cover every surface. It has a wonderfully country style (despite being in the centre of London!) and everything that you can see seems unique, with its own back story.

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But anyway, we should get onto what we’re all really here for… the food! Muriel’s is special in having menus that change with the seasons, so they are always making the most of the freshest, seasonal ingredients. Their food seems to accommodate everyone from dawn till dusk, with grab and go options as well as offerings for those who want to hang around. It certainly makes a nice change to locating the nearest Pret, grabbing your regular lunch and running back to the office!

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Standing out of the way of the busy workers grabbing their takeaway box or soup before running out of the door, we were shown to a table. After a quick perusal of the menu we decided to go for the English Sharing Platter. Platters are always a fun way to share and compare, and having stood by the kitchen watching the food get prepared there was plenty we wanted to try! I chose raspberry lemonade (a bold reminder of summer in such a seasonal restaurant) and Mum went for the Boosting Juice – apple, pear, beetroot and carrot.

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The food arrived quickly and we could barely wait to tuck in! Our sharing platter came with a homemade scotch egg, chicken liver pâté, butternut squash and feta quiche, cheddar, caramelised onion relish and rustic toast. As you can probably imagine, it was delicious.

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Particular highlights were the quiche and the toast, which was delicious, thick bread. I would say that it can be shared by no more than two, and if you’re especially hungry it might not satisfy the both of you. There’s also a lot of cheese and pâté to a fairly small amount of bread, so we ended up ordering extra. Never a bad thing (as we got to sample even more of their breads!), but just something worth keeping in mind. Some kind of fruit might also have been a nice addition, but otherwise it was delicious and beautifully presented.

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Full but with just enough room for a little something sweet, we crossed the road to visit one of my favourite Kensington spots, the Hummingbird Bakery. If you are in London and haven’t been already, just go. Cupcakes have been quite a thing for the past few years, but the Hummingbird Bakery’s cupcakes are hands-down the best.

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We were amused to find their counters quite light on cupcakes by the time we arrived. Clearly we weren’t the only ones to get that Friday lunchtime feeling and decide that a treat was in order!

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The choice may seem a little overwhelming but trust me when I say that red velvet is the only way to go. With cream cheese frosting and a ridiculously light, red sponge they are absolutely delicious. If only every Friday could be a foodie adventure through London…

Speedy London Breakfast: Gail’s

Today is my first London post! While I don’t live in London (yet…) I do spend a large chunk of my week there, working at the office and camping in my boyfriend’s room. This post will be the first of many!

An early wake up call and an hour to spare before work called for a breakfast stop. Luckily, I knew just the place.

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Popping up all over London now, Gail’s Artisan Bakery was originally founded when it proved impossible to find the perfect loaf of bread in the UK’s capital. Fortunately for us, with Gail’s on the block that is no longer a problem.

Gail’s entices you with naughty delights and a quiet space to sit and enjoy your treats. You can choose from a vast selection of breads (of course!) but also pastries, cakes, sandwiches and excellent coffee. Although the Gail’s we visited is surrounded by offices and building sites, you wouldn’t know it looking out of the window, as they have an outdoor seating area enclosed by greenery.

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As it was quite early in the morning and we didn’t have a lot of time, we didn’t opt for the brunch menu (but if you have more time, you definitely should!) Instead, we couldn’t resist the pastry selection.

After much (much) debate over which to choose and how many, we settled for the classic croissant, a pain au chocolat and an almond croissant.

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As we had hoped, they did not disappoint. The pastry was beautifully flaky and they made for a very filling, delicious breakfast! The staff are really friendly and if you go there reasonably early on a weekday morning, like we did, then you pretty much get the entire place to yourself and (more importantly) first choice of the pastries.

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If dragging yourself out of bed to go out for breakfast isn’t your thing, then I imagine the cake selection for a lazy afternoon tea would be an equally special treat. Just pick a time, grab some friends and share the bread and cake around … what more could you ask for?!

Sunday Brunch: Graze Kitchen and Bar

I’m sorry if it’s painful to talk about the weekend on Wednesday, when it just seems so far away… But this brunch was too good to not share with you!

My sister, Rosie, and I often go cruising down the high street where we live with our eyes peeled for new eateries. It seems to be the thing of the moment for our hometown: a new day, a new cafe opens up. While we’ve been promising to go to a few now, there was one that we had to visit as soon as we spotted it.

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Previously a very dodgy pub, this cute little building on the bridge overlooking the river has completely turned itself around into an all day eatery. Graze Kitchen and Bar opens early to provide busy commuters with espressos and pastries and then stays open into the night offering sharing platters and cocktails. Choosing when to go was a tricky decision!

However, rumour had it that their brunch menu was the best, and what better day to brunch than a Sunday?!

We arrived reasonably early and got in easily. The dining space is fairly small but nicely spread out, so we didn’t feel as though we were sharing our fellow brunchers’ coffees and conversations. We sat by the window and watched the world go by.

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The menu is varied and (to our pleasant surprise) not too expensive. If you are in a hurry you can opt for the bircher muesli or pastry selection, or if you have more time you can go for the full ‘graze breakfast’ (essentially a full English with a more original name).

We, of course, had plenty of time so I chose the graze breakfast and Rosie went for the American Pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. These delicious offerings shared the table with a luxury hot chocolate, a pot of tea and apple juice.

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The portion sizes are generous and service is quick but not rushed. The poached eggs were OK but nothing to write home about but this was the Graze brunch’s only downfall. Happily, there were so many marshmallows on top of the hot chocolate that drinking it was a bit of a challenge at first (the only way a hot chocolate should be)!

So if you’re in the area, skip Starbucks or the Waitrose cafe and walk that bit further up the high street for Graze. It is 100% worth it.