Brunch hotspots in London

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Brunch is one of those fantastic things to do in the weekend when it feels like you have all the time in the world. It’s a perfect activity to do with your best friends, family, your lover or even alone if you feel like spoiling yourself. Read here what my favourite brunch places are in London!

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In the mood for Italian food

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Summer may be officially over, but we can always try to recreate the taste and feel of summer with a good recipe. With all the photos coming in from Milan Fashion Week (especially those from the colourful Dolce & Gabbana show) I’m personally craving the taste of Italy, and so I wanted to share a pasta dish that a friend of mine once cooked for me and that always brings back my memories of the Tuscan sun even when I’m in (rainy) London. Click here for the recipe!

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Peach & Prosciutto salad

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The weather is getting better and better which means that the time for summer salads is upon us again. I recently tried this salad with peach and prosciutto and this will definitely go on my favourites list. I absolutely love summer fruits like strawberries, raspberries, and peaches because it’s so easy to make great dishes with them. They are perfect for smoothies or cakes and when you combine them with cheese, herbs or prosciutto (like in this recipe) they make for a delicious salad. You can eat this salad for lunch or even for dinner, but you might want to add some ciabatta for some extra filling. The ingredients you need for approximately two servings are the following:

  • 120 gr. mixed leaf salad
  • almonds, about a small handful
  • 3 peaches
  • 120 gr. goats’ cheese
  • prosciutto, about 6 strips
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • optional: ciabatta

These are the quantities I used, but you can adapt them to your personal preference.

Preparation method

  1. Cook the prosciutto for 2-3 minutes or just before it gets crispy. Let it cool down and cut it into small pieces.
  2. Peel the peaches and slice them.
  3. Chop the almonds, and cut the goats’ cheese.
  4. Then mix the almonds, peaches, prosciutto and goats’ cheese with the mixed leaf salad.
  5. Whisk the olive oil with the vinegar, honey, and mustard and drizzle over the salad.

Enjoy!

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Coffee cravings – London

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A couple of years ago the UK was definitely not a coffee country. If you wanted a proper cup you really had to just drink tea or go to a coffee chain such as Starbucks, Costa or Cafe Nero. But a lot has changed since then. Especially in London. Of course, there’s still a Starbucks on almost every street corner, but if you know where to look you’ll find a lot of nice coffee bars that serve very good coffee. These are some of my favourite places which I found through The London Coffee Guide (2014) and by just wandering around.

Store St. Espresso – This coffee bar, which is around the corner of UCL, was my coffee haven during exam time. Store St. is a really nice light cafe with friendly staff. Perfect for a quick coffee to go as well as for catching up with a friend.

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The Attendant – The Attendant is located in a former Victorian public lavatory, which might as well be the most original location for a coffee bar in all of London. It does sound a bit weird to have coffee in a place that people used as a loo, but it’s actually not. The place is renovated in a very stylish way to make sure everyone enjoys their coffee and food to the fullest.

Monocle café – This cafe is a spin-off from the Monocle magazine. Just like the magazine it’s very polished and quite hipster chique. It’s a small cafe so perfect for a quick coffee before you go and explore the shops of Marylebone or indulge yourself in the art at the Wallace Collection.

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Appestat – Appestat is a lovely cafe located in the Camden Passage in Islington. The owners are really friendly and I always find it a pleasure to go for a coffee there. Apart from coffee, they sell a range of artisan products such as cheese and charcuterie.

The Coffee Works Project – Next to Appestat you can find the Coffee Works Project, which is always buzzing with life. The best thing about this cafe is the garden in the back, which, if the weather allows it, is a perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee.

Look mum no hands! – This is a coffee bar and bike shop in one, so you can have a coffee while you’re waiting for your bike to be repaired. Look mum no hands! is a very colourful place, decorated with cool bike accessories. The coffee as well as the food is delicious.

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Some other places I’d recommend are: Ginger & WhiteNude Espressoand Shoreditch GrindBut this is really just a small selection of the great coffee bars in London. I’m sure that in a months time I’ve already visited places I could add to my favourites list.

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Festive pear & rosemary cocktail

pear_rosemary_coktailI am a big fan of cocktails and especially like drinking them on festive occasions such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve. They usually look pretty and they add a little extra to a party, especially when they are homemade. This pear and rosemary cocktail is not too difficult to make if you have the right equipment.

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The recipe is as follows:

  • 50 ml Vodka
  • 25 ml pear puree
  • 10 ml simple syrup
  • 10 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Gently muddle the rosemary sprigs in the base of a shaker. Add the remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

I personally love the interesting herby flavour the rosemary adds. And this cocktail is not too sweet, so it suits (almost) all tastes.

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Paris, je t’aime!

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Isn’t Paris just a wonderful city? My last trip was my fourth trip to Paris, but I just can’t get enough of this beautiful city. Just look at these pictures I took:
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I just love wandering around the different arrondissements and I was especially lucky to have someone living in Paris to show me her favourite places 🙂 Places I’d recommend going to that are a bit less touristy are the Centre Pompidou where they have a very extensive collection of modern art, The Broken Arm or KB Cafeshop for delicious coffee, Miznon in Le Marais for a quick and tasty Israeli dinner and the outside club Wanderlust to dance your feet off!

Bisous, Merel

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Autumn recipes

It’s that time of the year again, leaves are changing into red, orange, and yellow, you feel like wearing comfy sweaters all the time and Starbucks has the Pumpkin Spiced Latte on sale again. Yes, it’s autumn. As long as it’s not raining all the time, autumn is a great season both fashion and food wise. In this post I’d like to share one of my favourite autumn recipes, which is a barley and butternut squash salad I ate a few weeks ago at Ginger & White.

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It’s a perfect dish for early autumn, when there’s still a glint of summer in the air (which is the case in London at the moment), because the cherry tomatoes and raw spinach make it taste very fresh while at the same time the barley, squash and nuts add flavours that fit with autumn. The ingredients you need are:

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Dried cranberries
  • Pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds, all toasted
  • Walnuts, toasted
  • Spinach
  • Roasted butternut squash (preheat the oven to 200C, peel, seed, and cut the squash, drizzle over some olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and put in the over for about 30 min or until the squash is tender)
  • Barley
  • Mixed salad
  • Feta

(the amounts depend on personal preference)

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It’s fairly easy to make, but you do need a strong hand and a good knife to cut the butternut squash. When you’ve toasted all the seeds, roasted the squash and prepared the barley, you just mix all of it, and enjoy your lovely autumn salad!

What I think, makes a recipe autumn proof, are ingredients like pumpkin and sweet potato. I’m not entirely sure why. It might just be because of their colour, or because they are also great in soups and other warm dishes.

What do you think makes a recipe great for autumn? I’m curious to hear some of your recipes 🙂

O and in case the weather is a lot colder where you are, you should try this Pumpkin, Sage, and Feta Risotto!

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