Happy April! I’m writing this while nibbling on the remnants of my Easter chocolate, I hope everyone has had a great weekend, whatever you did or didn’t get up to! I can’t believe that we’re into the 2nd quarter of the year already, now if only there were some sign of spring’s arrival…
March was a fairly quiet & chilled for me; the ‘Beast from the East’ at the start of the month and it’s slightly less beastly friend, later on, kept me ensconced in hibernation mode. Nonetheless, I still managed to keep entertained.
Here is a quick roundup of everything I was enjoying in March 2018:
Ace & Tate Glasses – I purchased the Phoebe ‘small’ style and like them so much that I’m considering ordering another pair. The whole ordering process was simple, I just input my prescription and they arrived a little over a week later. Ace & Tate have a London store (and 26 others in various European countries, albeit most in the Netherlands where the brand originates,) where you can try out the frames and have an eye test, but if you want to order blind then they have a great returns policy where you can send the glasses back if you don’t like them for any reason. After breaking my previous glasses over Christmas, it’s such a treat to be able to see long distance again. You can see me wearing my pair here.
Frank Green 12oz Original SmartCup – This is my second attempt at a reusable coffee cup. I started off with a glass KeepCup Cork Edition which I managed to destroy in less than a fortnight. While making a cup of tea, it shattered dramatically on pouring in the hot water. I realised that glass was not the material for me and not being a fan looks-wise of the non-glass KeepCup, I searched for an alternative and found the Frank Green SmartCup. I appreciate the style of this cup, it’s very sleek and feels nice in the hand. You can customise yours with an array of bright colours. I went for lurid pink & purple to make it easy to find at the bottom of my bag. It does a great job of keeping drinks hot & I haven’t had any leakage issues apart from on one occasion where the barista was a little over-generous while filling up the cup. You can see mine peeking out on the edge here.
West Elm Bowls – Spied some ikat pattern bowls on my first visit to the new West Elm store in Westfield London and had to have them. I’m obsessed with bright & fun tableware. I think food tastes even better when you are eating out of something attractive. These were made in Japan, and are the perfect shape and size for noodle soups.
The Gallery @ Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly:
Sipped on: Earl Grey tea & an Americano.
Feasted on: Morrocan roasted califlower, red pepper hummus & pomegranate.
My first time eating in The Gallery, set above the bustling ground floor tea & confectionary department in Fortnum & Mason. I had expected the menu to be an exclusively meaty affair so was surprised to see 3 vegan options on the menu and an even more extensive vegetarian section. My cauliflower and hummus dish was bursting with flavour and for me, the portion size was just right for lunchtime. Bigger eaters might need some sides to fill up. The service was a touch on the slow side so I wouldn’t recommend if you’re pushed for time. I would recommend if you’re hungry and in the area and need to cater to a variety of tastes. Good spot for, and clearly very popular with tourists.
The Retreat Kitchen, Richmond:
Sipped on: PRESS London Lean Green Juice
Feasted on: Vegan Brunch Plate – Tofu scramble, smoky beans, hash brown, grilled tomato, vegan sausage, rye bread.
I have no idea how it’s taken me this long to visit The Retreat Kitchen, an all vegan food cafe in Richmond, but I’m so glad to have finally made its acquaintance. We came on a Saturday afternoon after a walk in Richmond Park and it was a perfect choice, warm and welcoming. I had the brunch plate which was hearty and filled me right up. I liked that there was a choice of several types of bread including my favourite, rye. Service was swift despite every table being full. They have a different menu during the week which I’d like to check out next or maybe I’ll stop in for a slice of cake and kombucha – I wanted some of the latter last time but alas they were all out!
Sipped on – Jasmine tea frozen margarita
Feasted on – Tacos: 2 x carrot & fennel with coconut and chipotle + 2 x butternut squash, mushrooms and chestnuts & a side of esquites aka grilled corn.
Mexican food in London has come a long way from when I used to visit in the 90s and had to endure the dubious Tex-Mex of the Leicester Square Chiquitos. The mass market fare has gotten an upgrade this decade with the ubiquity of Wahaca, but there’s only so many times a girl can eat an eggplant tostada bowl. Corazon opened on Poland Street last year and I’d wanted to check it out for a while. There is an extensive cocktail menu with some amusingly named drinks such as ‘Green Card’ & ‘Trump’s Wall’ but on seeing a margarita flavour I was yet to experience, (jasmine tea,) I had to go with that. It was a good choice; not too sweet, not overly tart and highly refreshing. The food choices are predominantly tacos and tostadas with an array of meat, fish and veggie fillings. While nothing was vegan off the bat, with some omissions I was able to find good choices which were still flavoursome and well balanced after losing their dairy components. Service here was speedy so even with the table time limit (90 mins) there is plenty of time to eat without feeling rushed.
So many goodies from Totally Wild UK:
I was so lucky to receive a lovely bundle of Totally Wild UK jams, salts and cordials, this month. All of these items are made from wild, foraged ingredients. While I’m familiar and a fan of Elderflower and Elderberry, a few of these flavours, despite being from indigenous British plants were new to me. It turns out that knotweed tastes remarkably like rhubarb and bilberries are very similar to blueberries but stronger and yummier. I’m still experimenting with all of the items and will likely make some baked goods with the jams in the near future. A splash of nettle cordial is great in a G&T, I’m excited to discover the cocktail potential of the others.
- The start of the 2018 F1 season.
- Lots of pre-yoga peppermint tea & chats.
- Walking in Richmond Park.
- Watching the snow fall while cosy inside.
- Visiting the new extension at Westfield London.
- Finally getting this blog started!
- Casual x 3 seasons (Amazon Instant Video UK/Hulu US)
- Love – Season 3 (Netflix)
- The End of the F***ing World (Netflix)
- Masterchef UK (BBC1/iPlayer)
My 10 favourite songs from March rounded up in one handy playlist:
Other things I listened to:
Auri – A new project from Tuomas Holopainen, Troy Donockley (members of my favourite metal band, Nightwish) & Johanna Kurkela. This is not metal but a folky, ambient, acoustic affair. I’m not sure what to make of the album they have produced, I wanted to like it but found it tough to connect to any of the melodies. I can’t see myself listening regularly apart from perhaps putting it on as background music.
The 2018 Eurovision entries – I unashamedly love Eurovision and as far as I’m concerned, it’s never too early to start preparing for the big event by getting acquainted with all the songs. By the second week of March, every entry had been unveiled and we have a fun line-up this year; some big bops, ethno-pop, metal, Balkan ballads & cheesy love songs. Roll on May 8th!
So not a bad March & there is much to look forward to in April, not least that I’ll be heading to New York for a visit at the end of the month! It’s over 13 years since I was last there and I can’t wait to eat and explore!