All Posts By


Paris, Restaurants

Top Eats in Paris

As Audrey Hepburn once said, ‘Paris is always a good idea’ and it’s even better when you really indulge in the city’s exquisite gastronomy.  With so many tempting French dishes, chic terrace cafes and hidden gems to navigate, it’s hard to know where to start!

On my regular trips to Paris, I try to find a balance between traditional specialities that I can only find in France and the city’s new international style of cooking, however there’s always room for cake…and a lot of it!

A fabulous foodie trip to Paris can be done on all budgets (it’s the home of gourmet bakeries and markets, after all), but you’ll want to leave plenty of Euros for some memorable eating.  That’s where low-cost regional airline Flybe can help with cheap flights from a number of UK cities to both Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly Ouest Airports.  I’m particularly happy to find out that Flybe runs a Newcastle to Paris route, so I can meet my mother in Paris for a girls’ weekend of shopping and dining.

So, what should you be eating on an autumn trip to Paris?  Here are some of my top bites in the City of Lights…

Le Hamburgé 

Burgers are a big deal in Paris and there’s just something about a French hamburgé that really hits the spot.  Two of the best I’ve ever tasted can be found on or around the rue St-Honoré at chic brasserie Le Castiglione and cosy family-run restaurant Ferdi (Kim and Kanye’s favourite French comfort food spot).  It’s the gooey melted cheese, grilled bacon and secret sauce maison that make these Parisian burgers oh so special.  Other notable American-style patties can be found at Ralph’s, Hotel Amour and Maison Mère.

Onion soup

A traditional brasserie classic, soupe a l’oignon gratinée is one of the best things you can order for a tasty lunch in Paris.  Not all onion soups are created equal, but I recently had a fantastic one at Bar du Central in well-heeled Saint-Germain.  A really good onion soup should be rich and piping hot, packed full of thin caramelised onions, topped with a bubbling Gruyère crouton and ideally served with a basket of baguette and French butter.

Steak frites

A true joy of dining out in Paris is a juicy, tender steak served with slim, crispy fries and a yummy Béarnaise or Café de Paris sauce.  Three Michelin starred chef Yannick Alléno is renowned for his ground-breaking cooking, but a more hearty meal of excellent steak frites can be found at his two casual restaurants Terroir Parisien and STAY at Paris Le Faubourg.

Neo-bistro fare 

Explore Paris’ innovative neo-bistro scene with a daily-changing, affordable set menu created by Michelin standard chefs in modest surroundings.  A hot neo-bistro opens almost every month in Paris, but I highly recommend established players Inaki Aizpitarte’s Le Chateaubriand, Chez l’Ami Jean by Stéphane Jégo and Grégory Marchand’s Frenchie.


A breakfast staple the world over, but no one can bake a croissant quite like the Parisians – they even have an annual competition to award the best ones.  Most Parisian hotels will source their breakfast croissants from their trusted local boulangerie, but you can also go straight to the source and queue at the counters of Gerard Mulot, Boulangerie Pichard and Arnaud Delmontel like a true Parisian.


My days in Paris are usually spent on a rose-tinted sugar high, as it’s impossible to resist the copious, beautiful cakes.  The ultimate tea salons to enjoy decadent pastries are the gilded Angelina, Ladurée Champs-Élysées and Le Jardin Francais at Hotel Le Bristol where you can choose from the sweet trolley.  To sample the coolest pastry trends, visit L’Éclair de Génie, Popelini for pretty profiteroles and Pierre Hermé for exciting new macaron flavours.

Are you tempted by a foodie trip to Paris?  What are your favourite Parisian hotspots?

Sponsored post

Photos by Chérie City

London, Restaurants

Supreme Saturdays at Yauatcha City

Yauatcha City is the hottest restaurant to open in the City this summer and is without a doubt the jewel in the crown of new Broadgate Circle dining destination.

Living east, I’m thrilled to have the likes of Yauatcha City, José Pizzaro, Aubaine and Shoryu Ramen almost on my doorstep, without having to venture into central London.

While it’s likely to be suitsville during the week, Yauatcha City is all about leisurely indulgence on the weekend, hence the launch of its exquisite new Supreme Saturdays menu.

It’s a real feast – and a boozy one at that – highlighting Yauatcha’s most luxurious dishes.  Not only is it insanely good value (not exactly cheap, but what I would call a ‘clever splurge’), it’s an ideal introduction to Yauatcha with a number of different tastings.

We were seated at a cosy table in the centre section of Yauatcha City’s striking crescent-shaped dining room and warmly welcomed by the immaculately-presented staff.

The meal starts with a pre-lunch cocktail of a Thea martini, Lychee martini or a Negroni, followed by half a bottle of wine.  I wasn’t quite ready to drink on an empty stomach at noon (I know, letting the side down), so instead we sipped on delicious Strawberry and vanilla iced jasmine tea packed with fresh fruit and vanilla seeds.

Our waitress humorously warned us that we were in for a lot of food and she wasn’t wrong, as the Steamed dim sum platter was presented with six piece each.  We were literally in dim sum heaven!

The traditional Pork and prawn shui mai and Har gau were my favourites, however I also appreciated the comforting, autumnal flavours of the Crystal dumpling wrap with pumpkin and pine nut.

Black pepper and wagyu beef dumpling was a parcel of pure decadence, balanced out with a simple and tasty Wild mushroom dumpling.  I wasn’t crazy about the Vegetable and truffle wrap as I found the winter melon casing and glossy sauce made it a little too juicy.

Of course there was still room for more light bites – this time a Fried dim sum platter each.  Venison puff, a Yauatcha speciality, featured buttery, glazed pastry filled with tender venison in a sweet, rich gravy.  I found the Lobster roll pleasant with small chunks of fresh lobster and scallop in an interesting sauce that was both creamy and tangy, while Mushroom spring roll was a vegetarian-friendly classic done well.

I particularly enjoyed the Sesame prawn toast, which was a big juicy prawn ball covered in sesame seeds with just a slim piece of toast – I’ll definitely be ordering a plateful of them next time.

For the main course, there is a choice of three dishes – so, the only one that we didn’t try was the Foie gras diced beef, which appears to be garnished with an oversized pastry puff.

Lobster vermicelli pot was a luxury take on the typical Chinese hot pot, cooked slowly and served fresh out of the oven.  There were copious amounts of succulent, high quality lobster that had to be extracted from their shells.  I knew the day would finally come when I’d be presented with a lobster cracker and attempt to hide my inexperience, hoping to avoid a re-enactment of the restaurant scene in Pretty Woman.

Once I had my lobster under control, I tucked into the thin, glass-like vermicelli noodle, which had a dry, springy texture and absorbed the seafood flavours, punctuated with a slight hint of curry spice.

A much easier dish to navigate was the Truffle pork belly rib.  The gloriously sticky, lacquered pork ribs were ever so tender and the meat elegantly slipped away from the bone.  There was a good mix of flaky lean meat and melt-in-the-mouth fat and the glaze was sweet enough without being cloying.

They were topped with uniformly lined-up enoki mushrooms and truffle crumbs and I regret being too distracted by the pork to sample those lovely little asparagus spears.

The accompaniments of Jasmine steamed rice and steamed Chinese vegetables worked well with both dishes, although we were too full by this point to finish them.

Yauatcha is famed for its exquisite French-Asian patisserie and it’s impossible to walk past without admiring them sitting majestically in the glass cabinet.  The best thing about this menu is that you can choose any of the desserts (no fooling around with exotic fruit plates) and take a much-needed stroll over to the counter to see which catches your eye.

Is it wrong that I tried to choose the most Instagrammable cake?  They all look like works of art, but the Raspberry delice tempted me with the promise of raspberry, Madirofolo chocolate and lychee – all of my favourite dessert flavours.

I was later told that this dessert won an award for ‘best tea cake’, so it was definitely a good choice. Velvety bitter-sweet chocolate mousse sat atop a layer of light chocolate sponge and was covered with a fine layer of highly-pigmented raspberry dust.  The final flourish was the secret filling of rose-scented lychee gelée at the centre – desserts don’t come much better than this.

Steven went for another showstopper – the elaborately-designed Malted milk.  This included layers of smooth milk chocolate mousse flavoured with malt and caramelised honey, slim chocolate discs and a crunchy, nutty Anzac biscuit base.

With full stomachs, we savoured these sweet gems with a pot of jasmine tea, however if you’re not already on the floor, you can wash them down with the included digestif – a Manhattan, Amaretto Sour or an Espresso martini.

Yauatcha City was everything I hoped it would be and this fabulous Saturday offering is sure to draw in the crowds.  It was such an overwhelming foodie experience that we walked all the way home in the sunshine – a weekend well spent!

Supreme Saturdays lunch menu is available every Saturday from 12pm to 5pm and is priced at £49 per person for a minimum of two guests.  For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Yauatcha City

Photos by Chérie City (interiors by Yauatcha City)

Yauatcha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Baking Thunder Bread in Iceland

A few weeks ago, I joined some of the Celebrity Cruises #destinationbloggers (yes, we have our own hashtag) for a whirlwind trip to Iceland to discover a national food speciality – the dramatically-named thunder bread.

We caught all the behind-the-scenes action on a shoot with Waitrose filming a new episode of their inspiring A Taste of Travel series.  I think all of us were relieved that we wouldn’t be examining Icelandic delicacies such as fermented shark, whale or puffin – it’s pretty hard to go wrong with rye bread!

I’ve only ever seen Iceland from the air on stopovers to Boston, but on this short trip I was really charmed by its natural, unspoilt landscape, interesting architecture and that dry Icelandic sense of humour.  The love affair started from our super comfortable Icelandair flight (three hours of in-flight movies and the most amazing spiced fruit oatmeal) and the drive from the airport through the barren yet beautiful volcanic countryside towards Reykjavik.

We swiftly checked in at the cosy, nautical-inspired Icelandair Reykjavik Marina Hotel.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from an airline hotel, but this boutique hotel is hipster central with a dash of Wes Anderson quirkiness and everything you need for a comfortable stay – free wifi, a great bed, gorgeous Icelandic Soley Organic botanical bath products and a cool bar.  I can even forgive that there was a Pantone mackerel on my wall staring at me in bed.

Happily, the sun was still shining late afternoon, so we had a few hours to explore Reykjavik.  The first stop was for a refuel at The Laundromat Cafe – a casual all-day dining spot that does an awesome Club Sandwich and enourmous gourmet salads.

This set us up for a trek uphill to Reykjavik’s iconic Hallgrímskirkja (named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson).

This Lutheran church is the tallest in Iceland and was designed by architect Guðjón Samúelsson in 1937 to resemble the basalt lava flows of Iceland’s landscape.  It was consecrated around 50 years later and houses an imposing pipe organ and some pretty ‘out there’ contemporary religious art.

We strolled back towards the marina, admiring the colourful low-rise houses, cute cafes and interiors shops, until we reached the Sólfar (Sun Voyager).

The striking aluminium sculpture, designed by Jón Gunnar Árnason, was constructed in 1990 and is a sun ship, symbolising the promise of new, undiscovered territory.  Also in this part of town is the magnificent Harpa Concert Hall, which is the home of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and The Icelandic Opera.

Dinner that evening was at the hotel’s cool Slippbarinn restaurant and bar that offers dishes like fish in a pan, grilled langoustine tails and a selection of flatbreads, as well as excellent cocktails.  Extra points to the staff for allowing me to take some chocolate cake up to my room to eat in bed – oh the perks of being a hotel guest.

It’s not easy getting a whole production team into a small walk-in seafood shack, but if you’re in a smaller group than we were, try the renowned Sea Baron for the ‘best lobster soup in Iceland’.

The next day we rose early for a tasty buffet breakfast at the hotel (I highly recommend the spiced apple cake) and then Operation Thunderbread was on!  We drove through rural Iceland towards Laugarvatn Fontana, stopping briefly to admire Þingvellir  National Park – a World Heritage Site and one of Iceland’s most visited tourist destinations.

Laugarvatn Fontana is a delightful spa and wellness centre built on natural hot springs by the Laugarvatn lake.  Guests can relax and detox in the steam baths and geothermal pools, followed by a bountiful buffet lunch or dinner.  It’s also home to some rather delicious thunderbread, produced by managing director and master breadmaker Sigurdur Hilmarsson – Siggi for short.

As the Waitrose production team set up, we had the chance to meet the host of the series Rosie Lovell- cookbook author and owner of Rosie’s Deli Cafe in Brixton and Peckham.  Rosie has a magnetic personality – she’s an energetic, passionate foodie with the urban smartness that comes with being an entrepreneur and hard-working mother.

Here are a few fun facts about Rosie:

- Rosie was inspired to open her first cafe after a trip to Glastonbury and graduating from Edinburgh Uni.
- She is so hands-on with running her two cafes that many people don’t often realise she is the Rosie of Rosie’s Deli Cafe.
- Japan and Morocco are top of her travel wish list to discover the national cuisine.
- One of her favourite London restaurants for a slap-up meal is Quo Vadis in Soho.
- She loves eating locally in south London when she’s just after just ‘a really flipping nice supper’ with her husband DJ Raf Rundell and son.

The cameras started rolling and Siggi shared with Rosie his own special recipe for thunder bread.  It’s a basic rye bread recipe – simply rye, plain flour, sugar, milk and a pinch of salt – but with a few local variations.

Where the real fun comes in is the baking process.  The mixture is placed in a metal pot and then buried beneath the black volcanic sand on the shoreline and naturally heated by the thermal springs for 24 hours.  So powerful are the hot springs, with their little bubbling pools, that they power the entire village (so our thunder bread was in no danger of failing).

Happily, Siggi had prepared a batch for us to freshly dig up and slice.  The warm, springy bread resembled a spice loaf and had nutty, slightly sweet flavours and a moist texture.

We devoured slice after slice right away with a slick of butter, but thunder bread can also be enjoyed with smoked trout, herring, smoked lamb or to mop up an Icelandic fish stew.  It was absolutely delightful and and well worth a trek to Iceland for a truly authentic experience.

A Taste of Travel has so far given us a cinematic bite of manti ravioli in Istanbul, gelato in Florence, gin in Barcelona and there’s another exciting Scandinavian sweet treat on the way.

To discover thunder bread and get a glimpse of our Icelandic adventure, watch this video:

See the full Waitrose A Taste of Travel series with Rosie Lovell, in partnership with Celebrity Cruises, here.

All photos by Chérie City


Fly From London to Canada with WestJet

O Canada, how I’ve admired you from afar (and kept you at the top of my travel wish list).  From next spring, however, travel to the land of maple trees will become a whole lot easier with the launch of Canada’s low-fare airline WestJet in London.

WestJet is set to operate direct flights to six Canadian cities from London Gatwick with one-way fares starting from as little as £163 including taxes, fees and surcharges.  As if that wasn’t brilliant enough, connecting flights to selected cities will be available for just £10, giving you more freedom to really explore Canada.

WestJet has been flying travellers across Canada since 1996 and now the esteemed airline is letting us Brits in on all of the fun.

I’ve already visited cosmopolitan Toronto for the Toronto Film Festival 2011 and have skied in the glorious Canadian Rockies (Banff, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village), but I’m keen to see more of this beautiful country.

Top of my list is Vancouver, as it’s a city with a cool cultural and foodie scene and it also has nature right on its doorstep.  I would start with a panoramic view of the city from the Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre, followed by feasting on fresh seafood (Vancouver’s local speciality) at Lonsdale Quay Market, maybe catch the latest exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery and go shopping in hip Gastown.

Another destination to visit is Calgary, the largest city in the province of Alberta at the foot of the majestic Canadian Rockies.  The highlight of the calendar is the Calgary International Film Festival and of course the Calgary Stampede – the world-famous rodeo festival with riotous parties, live music and diner food aplenty.

Or, how about checking out the 40 year-old Winnipeg Folk Festival and discovering the city’s musical roots (notable Winnipeggers include Neil Young and Crash Test Dummies)?

WestJet also flies to artistic Edmonton where you can explore the Royal Alberta Museum and discover emerging Canadian artists at the creative Gallery Walk.  Last but not least is stunning St John’s, the capital city of the Newfoundland and Labrador.  Be charmed by the colourful low-rise houses of Jelly Bean Row in downtown St John’s and get into the carnival spirit at the Mardi Gras Festival in October.

Of course for some people like Dave the Dog, WestJet’s game-changing discounted fares are still not quite enough.  Sorry you missed the in-flight movies, Canadian beer, pretzels and a proper seat, Dave!

Are you feeling inspired to hike in the Rockies or take in the views at the top of Toronto’s CN Tower? Which Canadian destination excites you the most?

To plan your awesome trip to Canada, visit:

Sponsored post

Photos of Toronto by Chérie City

Cafes, London

Melt Room Soho, London

When the week starts with weather as dismal as this, the most appealing mood elevator is gooey, melted cheese – and a lot of it!

Luckily, this craving can be indulged quickly and efficiently at Melt Room in Soho.  The petite grilled cheese sandwich shop brings the New York deli classic to London and believe me, it’s more than just a posh toasty.

Melt Room has a seriously tempting menu of gourmet toasted sandwiches including Pastrami with porcini mushrooms, horseradish & sparkenhoe red Leicester and BBQ Chicken with red cabbage slaw and coastal cheddar.  Or, you can also keep it simple with the classic sandwich – a special cheese blend on sour dough bread, which I imagine would go well with the home-made vine tomato soup.

On my visit, I couldn’t resist the Pulled Pork Shoulder with Pommery mustard, real ale and apple chutney & sharp cheddar (£5).  The sandwich was filled with a good amount of juicy, slow-cooked pork, which was perfectly complemented by the rich, oozing cheddar and the sweet, tangy chutney.

Another favourite was the Slow & Low Lamb Shoulder with Romaine lettuce, Pommery mustard & melted Swiss (£5).  The lamb was ever so tender and Swiss cheese was a well-considered choice, so the flavours weren’t too overwhelming.

Of course it’s all about the melts, but there’s also a tempting daily special of mac and cheese as well as soups, salads and healthy breakfast dishes.

It’s an absolute must to finish with a sweet Nutella & Mascarpone Melt (£3.50).  This combination of velvety chocolate, nuts and cream sandwiched between thin slices of milk bread is just heavenly.  It would also work well as a decadent breakfast or an afternoon treat, although I do believe Nutella is a good idea at any mealtime.

Melt Room is a fun addition to Soho and it definitely hits the spot for a yummy cheese fix at any time of the day (it’s open until 9pm most nights).  It has a quick ‘in and out’ feel, but with decent prices (nothing is over a fiver) and good quality ingredients, I can see it becoming a local hit.

For more information and the menu, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Melt Room

Photos by Chérie City

Melt Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars, London

Chambord Chapter Eight Games, East London

Summer lives on in London Fields this weekend with the rather fabulous Chambord Chapter Eight Games.

Last night, fresh from my Berlin flight, I headed to new rooftop and bar Proof at Field Works for croquet, cocktails and flamingos aplenty.  The open-air space has been transformed into an Alice in Wonderland-inspired croquet lawn complete with golden pineapples and flamingo mallets, a Chambord bar and cosy pods.

Test your ball whacking skills with a half-hour game of croquet, or simply cheer from the side while sipping a complimentary Chambord Royale cocktail.

Chambord has long been one of my favourite liqueurs (not only because its opulent gold bottle appeals to my inner magpie) and I loved the specially-created Chapter Eight cocktail – a refreshing mix of Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur shaken with gin and fresh grapefruit.

Of course, you’ll need a gourmet refuel and who better than street food favourite Le Bun?  The signature French-American duck confit burgers really are out of this world!  Slow-cooked, tender duck confit is piled up with tangy red cabbage on a glazed sesame bun, finished with a generous slick of fresh tarragon Bearnaise sauce – literally food heaven in a bun.

So, why not add a little je ne sais quoi to your weekend with some tipsy sportsmanship at Chambord Chapter Eight Games in Hackney.

Chambord Chapter Eight Games runs until 13th September.  Tickets are available here and include a complimentary Chambord Royale cocktail per person.

Chérie City was invited by Chambord


A Weekend in Marseille with Eurostar

The highlight of my summer, without a doubt, was exploring beautiful Provence over a long weekend.  It was a jam-packed solo trip full of sun, culture and delicious food, in celebration of the new Eurostar direct route to the south of France.

As a massive fan of Eurostar, I was thrilled at the idea of hopping on a train at Kings Cross and arriving in Marseille around six hours later.

Sure, the journey time may be more than a flight, but its big advantages are arriving and departing in the heart of the city, a smooth journey with great views of the French countryside, generous baggage allowance and no liquid restrictions, so you can bring back as much rosé as you like.

Travelling in Standard Premier one way was an extra special treat, as I enjoyed a tasty French meal of stuffed roast chicken and vegetables, a decadent tarte au citron and wine, plus a very comfortable solo seat and a choice of glossy magazines – sheer travel bliss!

The hours flew by as the train passed through Lyon and Avignon with its picturesque sunflower fields and I arrived to glorious blue skies in Marseille.  The European City of Culture 2013 is very cosmopolitan yet charming with its own enduring identity complimented by Mediterranean and North African influences.  It’s also perfectly located to explore the Provence region, close to Cassis, Vitrolles and Aix-en-Provence, where I spent the second half of my weekend.

My base for two nights was Hôtel Résidence du Vieux Port, a cool design hotel with arguably the best location in Marseille, nestled on the old port and at the foot of historic district Le Panier.  I really loved this friendly independent hotel and will tell you all about it very soon…

For a breezy trip start to my trip, I met up with fashion blogger Julie Vandal for a drink on the terrace in bobo hilltop neighbourhood Le Cours Julien.  Julie then took me on a tour of good shopping addresses where local artisans produce stunning clothes, jewellery and homewares in their studio-boutiques.

Some of my favourites spots were Cherry Bones for delicate, colourful jewellery, Monstro Diva for beach-luxe accessories, Allika for stylish hand-made leather bags and Provencal homewares store L’Entrepot.

Le Cours Julien is also home to some of Marseille’s best street art.  Atelier Juxtapoz works with local shopkeepers to allow graffiti artists to beautify their shop fronts with creative murals – there’s even an annual Street Art Festival to celebrate the area’s creativity.

Look out for images of the bonne mère de Marseille and the poignant tribute to Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Cabu by local street artist JUIS.

A highlight of a trip to Marseille is the exquisite local produce, but you need to venture a little beyond the Old Port to sample these delicacies.  I enjoyed a gourmet tour with lovely guide Alexandra Blanc-Vea, who really knows Marseille inside out.

We started at Les Navettes des Accoules, a charming bakery in Le Panier that is said to offer the best navettes in Marseille (after tasting them, I truly believe it).  Shaped like traditional boats, navettes are fragrant, slightly sweet biscuits made with orange blossom water – perfect with a cup of tea.

The next stop was Le Glacier du Roi, another Marseille institution, where we were treated to a sharing plate of mouthwatering ice cream.  The signature navette flavour was out of this world and I also loved the tart, refreshing lemon sorbet.

Other foodie moments included fine wines and local cheeses at La Descente des Accoules, a tour of indoor market-restaurant Les Halles de Major and a tasting of fresh green olive tapenade in the courtyard cafe of La Vieille Charité.

A must-have souvenir is Marseille’s famous soap, hand-made with a high percentage of olive oil to moisturise the skin.  I picked up a few cubes of high quality soap at La Savonnerie Marseillaise, a stylish shop in Le Panier that offers soaps in every scent you can imagine.

Another fantastic shop in Le Panier is Maison Empereur – an upmarket quincaillerie (hardware store) that sells classic, nostalgic French lifestyle goods such as espadrilles, Breton tops, traditional tableware, Papier d’Arménie candles and Pierrot Gourmand lollipops.  I could have easily filled a basket with French knick-knacks here, but there was still so much to see and do.

A real highlight of my time in Marseille was a private tour of this summer’s must-see Aux Tableaux exhibition with Elodie Gaillard, press manager at Atelier Juxtapoz.  The former Saint Thomas d’Aquin School (closed in 2012) has been transformed into a creative wonderland by prominent and emerging artists from Marseille and across Europe.

The artists took residence for four months in the desolate institution, which included kindergarten, primary school and high school on the same premises.  Each room has been redesigned by an artist, taking inspiration from their own memories of childhood and themes of school days gone by.

Some rooms are whimsical, nostalgic and otherworldly while the high school rooms explore teenage rebellion, rock ‘n’ roll and sex.  Allow a few hours to fully explore the rooms by artists including Remi Rough, Stephane Moscato, Lilli B, Veenom and Neurone.

There’s also a peaceful courtyard where you can reflect on the installations over an ice cold drink, or visit on Wednesday night party with live DJs.

One of my evenings in Marseille was spent strolling around the Old Port, enjoying the balmy weather and street market stalls, then stopping to watch an impromptu Arabic music concert that drew quite a crowd.  I could even absorb the promenade’s buzzing, frenetic atmosphere from the comfort of my own balcony.

I grabbed a light dinner of sushi and miso soup, but for something more romantic, you can enjoy fresh seafood at famous seafront restaurant Le Miramar or tapas and live music at Bar Manolo in Le Panier.  Of course, I couldn’t pass up a rose-shaped gelato cone from Amorino for a sweet fix and a spot of people watching.

The next night, I checked out the restaurant at Mama Shelter Marseille near the Cours Julien.  The interiors are signature Philippe Starck, however the atmosphere was more subdued than at the lively Mama Shelter Paris – perhaps because it was a quiet Sunday evening.

The menu by chefs Jerome Banctel and Matthieu Devaux was full of tempting dishes and I really enjoyed my French-Asian Half roast chicken, caramelised soya sauce, coriander, mesclun salad and mushrooms.

My time in Marseille ended with an idyllic three hour cruise of the calanques, along the coast towards Cassis and back.  The scenery was breathtaking and unspoilt with tranquil bays and crystal blue waters.

Leaving the port, we had great views of the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, MuCEM, Palais du Pharo and Fort St Jean.  The waters can be rather choppy at times, so take precautions if you’re prone to seasickness, then simply relax and enjoy the ride.

Marseille is a wonderful destination for a south of France city break, whether you’re exploring the winding cobbled streets of Le Panier, watching the world go by at hip Cours Julien or indulging in fresh moules frites on the terraces of the Old Port.  With such a convenient Eurostar route from London, Provence is almost impossible to resist.

Explore Marseille with City Pass, offering benefits such as free access to the city’s museum, a visit to the Chateau d’If, tourist train to Notre-Dame de la Garde or Le Panier, free access to subways and buses, free tastings and 10% discount at certified boutiques.  City Pass is valid for 24hrs, 48hrs or 72hrs and is priced from 24 Euros. 

Eurostar fares start at £99 for Marseille (from £199 in Standard Premier).  For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Eurostar and Bouches-du-Rhône Tourist Board

All photos by Chérie City


Art, London

Red Dog, Black Wolf. Will You Remember Your Name?

A few weeks ago, I attended the opening of cool new art show Red Dog, Black Wolf. Will You Remember Your Name? – the second of three exhibitions in the summer programme at the London outpost of Yesim Turanli’s Istanbul gallery, Pi Artworks.

Curated by Isabel Dexter, this striking exhibition features works by British artists Rae Hicks and Charles Sandford, as well as one site-specific collaborative piece – a red and grey chequered carpet.

The show’s intriguing name is inspired by the French phrase ‘entre le chien et le loup’, denoting a curious time during dusk when a dog cannot be distinguished from a wolf.  It’s a moment of almost supernatural uncertainty and ambiguity, bringing an anxious state where not everything is as it seems.

This concept unifies the exhibition, which includes a mix of painting, installation, sculpture and performance.  Rae Hicks’ paintings, such as Double Glazing (2015) take a different look at everyday domestic objects that we often take for granted.

Through Hicks’ art process, the objects – a gas cooker, TV and books – adopt a different function to what we expect of them.  They become two dimensional, purposely limited models of themselves.

Charles Sandford explores the theme broadly with installations including a small single bed covered with a duvet print of an aristocratic huntsman and a theatrical red velvet curtain moving erratically to suggest sinister, clandestine fumbling.

At the private view, a hearse was also parked up outside.  The formally-dressed driver meticulously polished the shiny black car and anticipated his next fare.

Red Dog, Black Wolf. Will You Remember Your Name? is a thought-provoking, highly conceptual exhibition that challenges how the viewer perceives objects and processes eerie, uncomfortable sensations.  I’m looking forward to seeing what these talented London-based artists come up with next.

The exhibition runs until 3rd September at Pi Artworks.  For more information, visit:

Photos by Pi Artworks and Chérie City

Glasgow, Restaurants

A Foodie Trip to Glasgow

I fell in love with Glasgow when I lived there as a student for four years, so when I was asked by People Make Glasgow to revisit to explore the Scottish city’s thriving foodie scene, it was a no-brainer.

I already had more than a few favourite food spots (and far too many bars), but a lot has changed in the eight years that I’ve been away and I was excited for a whirlwind weekend of new discoveries.

After a very civilised and stress-free British Airways flight from City Airport, we swiftly checked in to our shiny, high-tech rooms at citizenM Glasgow.  The plush king-size corner bed, iPad-controlled mood lighting and pod-style rainfall shower made for a fun, comfortable stay.

Then, it was straight back out for a late supper and drinks at Hutchesons with my Glasgow pal, Katie Chutzpah.  This stylish Merchant City restaurant and bar is housed in the striking 19th century Hutcheson Hospital and boasts some opulent interiors.

We nestled in a corner booth in the cosy ground-floor bar and grazed on the most amazing Scottish prawns on ice, dressed crab and skinny fries.  Our libations of choice were a Parma Violet, Twinkle and Bollinger Champagne, however there is also a collection of £5 signature cocktails – as if we needed any more reason to love a night out in Glasgow.

The next morning, our epic foodie day in Glasgow started with a spicy kick at Babu Bombay Street Kitchen just a short walk from our hotel on West Regent Street.  Owner Rachna Dheer found Glasgow lacking in authentic, healthy Indian street food, so she introduced Babu at farmers’ markets around the city before setting up this basement kitchen gem in the city centre.

Babu serves freshly-prepared roti wraps, dahls and curries all day and the morning offering is an Indian take on typical Scottish breakfast dishes.  The pungent aromas are intoxicating and the kitchen is filled with fresh herbs, spices – this place is the real deal.

We basked in the sun and enjoyed a selection of dishes including Spicy scrambled eggs on a Mortons roll (Scotland’s famous everyday bakery) and Bacon chapatti wrap with fresh salad.  I was in the mood for something sweet and tried the most delicious, aromatic Chai brownie washed down with warming ginger tea.

This set us up well for a morning of foraging with Monica Wilde at Boden Boo urban wood in the shadow of the Erskine Bridge over the River Clyde.  This was my first time foraging and I was truly amazed by the copious plants and flowers that can be eaten or distilled to benefit the body.

Monica guided us through the wood, highlighting useful plants and plucking pieces for us to taste.  She also had a well-stocked forager’s bag full of alcoholic botanical tinctures for us to taste along the way, while the chefs from the acclaimed Riverhill Restaurant & Bar filled a basket in preparation for lunch.

Feeling inspired by nature, we headed back to Riverhill in the city centre for our special Boden Boo’s Bounty four-course lunch, complete with potent cocktails.  We were all impressed with the chefs’ high end, flavoursome vegetarian creations and how they utilised our foraged (and completely free) ingredients.

My favourite dish from the menu was the Aviemore girolles & Lanark oyster mushroom fricasse, chicken of the woods & parmesan powder, fermented wild garlic puree and deep-fried Luss duck egg.  I also loved the fragrant, delicate dessert of Dog rose jelly, meadowsweet sabayon, wild berries, gorse sable & yellow raspberry sherbet.

Scotland has long been synonymous with whisky, but gin is having quite a moment there, so off we went to an industrial estate on the Southside to discover the first gin to be produced in metropolitan Glasgow.

The Glasgow Distillery Company was originally founded in the 1770s and was revived just two years ago, debuting its first new product Makar Gin.

Named after the Scots word for bard or poet, Makar Gin is a juniper-led botanical dry gin that’s made in small batches of 300 in a copper still called Annie.  We tried this bold, vibrant gin both on its own and as a typical G&T and as if that wasn’t enough, we were treated to a wee sip of the distillery’s other produced spirit, Prometheus Whisky (a cool £500 per bottle).

We spent our Saturday night dining around Glasgow’s hip new foodie quarter Finnieston in the West End. This was my neighbourhood for four years and so much has changed since it was simply a low-key residential area with students occupying the grand tenement buildings just a stroll away from beautiful Kelvingrove Park (how lucky we were to live there).

I would never have expected to see pugs and Mulberry Bayswaters in this area, but that was the vibe at our first stop of the night, The Finnieston.  Graham Suttle’s popular Scottish seafood bar and restaurant opened just last year and is designed like an urban fisherman’s tavern.

The Finnieston is known for its extensive gin collection, so of course we kicked things off with a Scottish gin cocktail made with Caorunn Gin, Fentimans Tonic and Red Apple.

We grazed on a selection of starter dishes including Fresh Pacific oysters, Heritage carrot, orange & kipper salad and Double dived scallops with roast baby aubergine & courgette, crowdie stuffed courgette flower and Romesco sauce.

The main course was served next door at The Finnieston’s slicker and more relaxed sister restaurant Porter & Rye, a temple of fine dry-aged meats.  We were treated to a succulent, perfectly-cooked Porterhouse steak and literally all of the side dishes on the menu to share.  I particularly enjoyed the Ayrshire potatoes with smoked Abernathy butter and the indulgent Mac and cheese with thick-cut smoked bacon.

A brisk walk back towards the centre of town was very much needed before our final foodie stop of the night, the renowned Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery.  Two Fat Ladies is a real Glasgow institution and its romantic, old world Scottish decor – complete with tartan and oak panelling – is just irresistible.

We were seated in a beautiful private room with Scottish thistle wallpaper by Glasgow design company Timorous Beasties and various ornaments lovingly collected by the general manager.

We finished the night on a sweet note with the Two Fats grand dessert tasting plate, an impressive cheeseboard, petit fours and of course a Scottish whisky tasting.  It was lovely to get a glimpse of Two Fat Ladies, but I would love to revisit on another trip, as the fine dining experience seemed quite magical.

The next morning started with a caffeine kick at Gordon St Coffee Roastery, conveniently located inside Glasgow Central Station.  Well-known on the Glasgow coffee scene, Gordon St’s beans are roasted and ground in-house on the mezzanine level – there’s even a special Glasgow Blend.  I could only inhale the delicious aromas enviously due to my coffee intolerance (mine’s an Earl Grey), but I can report that they do a fantastic bacon roll and posh giant blackcurrant marshmallows served on pretty floral china.

Our next stop was a real adventure, visiting the Plan Bee hive at privately-owned home Haggs Castle.  Plan Bee provides and manages bee hives for Glasgow businesses (including Two Fat Ladies) and arranges visits for schools to connect children with nature.

We got kitted up in protective overalls, veils and wellies and chief beekeeper Warren Bader opened the hive, filled to the brim with over 60,000 honeybees.  At first it was a little daunting, but the bees were quite calm and good-natured, allowing the most courageous in our group to take a close look at the frames covered in honeycomb.

Once the bees were safely back in their home before the rain came, we tasted the fruits of their labour.  We tried the most delicious honey in flavours such as cinnamon, Italian truffle and vanilla and the good news is they can be bought directly online.

For our final meal in Glasgow, it was posh comfort food all the way at The Vintage at Drygate Brewery.  A collaboration between Williams Bros. and Scotland’s famous beer company Tennents, Drygate Brewery is an ‘experiential’ craft brewery, restaurant and event space that hosts gigs, comedy nights and marketing – very cool and very Glasgow.

Most of us went for the awesome Drygate beef burger with jerk ox cheek served with triple cooked chips and house slaw.  It’s a meaty, satisfying burger and the jerk ox cheek is a great addition, but if you come with an appetite, it’s also worth ordering some punchy Sobrasada beans and potatoes, bacon and oats for the table.  Wash it all down with a chilled Gladeye IPA, Outaspace Apple Ale or Bearface Lager and watch them being brewed through the transparent glass.

There’s also a retail shop with an unbelievable selection of rare and interesting craft beers.  If only we weren’t restricted by the flight carry-on liquid allowance, I would’ve brought home a few bottles, especially since the labels are designed with stunning artwork by Glasgow Art School students.

My weekend in Glasgow was so memorable and exciting and I loved seeing how vibrant the city has become. It’s a real haven for foodies with top notch restaurants doing wonderful things with the best Scottish produce and a community that’s so passionate about good eating and hospitality.  But don’t just take my word for it, get yourself up to Glasgow for an amazing weekend.

For further information for booking your trip to Glasgow, visit:

Chérie City was very happily invited by People Make Glasgow

Photos by Chérie City (interiors by The Finnieston & Two Fat Ladies. Plan Bee by People Make Glasgow)

Beauty, Salon

ESHK Hair Clerkenwell, London

Last week, I escaped the madness of the tube strike in the relaxing surroundings of ESHK Clerkenwell.

ESHK Hair was established in 2005 with salons in Shoreditch and Barbican and the new Clerkenwell salon has been open for just three months.

I usually like to be organised with my hair appointments, but realised I’d been paying too much attention to my colour (more precisely, camouflaging those pesky grey hairs) and had neglected the ends.  Perhaps it’s psychological, but I felt compelled to give my hair and spirit a lift – in fact, it was playing on my mind for days.

So, I hit Wahanda to browse London hair salons and decided on ESHK Clerkenwell for a Cut and Blow-Dry (£31.50) as it’s reasonably close to me and I’d read good things about the salon – ESHK won Time Out’s ‘Best Hairdressers in London’ award three times in a row.

You can’t miss ESHK with its sleek black exterior and bold sign on the corner of Grays Inn Road.  It’s a beautifully-designed boutique salon with an urban retro feel and nice touches such as Cire Trvdon candles and vintage furniture.

I was around 20 minutes early after allowing extra time for tube strike traffic and was immediately seated in the cool, bright ground floor cutting room.  I refueled with a cup of tea served with Italian biscuits and was soon greeted by my lovely stylist Gianluca.

After a quick consultation, I was taken downstairs to the wash basins and Gianluca prescribed a combination of two different Kevin Murphy shampoos for fine and colour-treated hair and a conditioner thick, curly hair that also works well on fine hair like mine.

Vanessa washed my hair and gave me a delightful scalp massage, which is always my favourite part of the salon experience.

Gianluca refreshed the lengths and cut long layers back into my hair.  We chatted about Italy and had a laugh about how out of shape my hair had become, in the safe knowledge that I’d be leaving with a much better ‘do.

My hair was then blow-dried straight and dry cut to complete the shape.  To finish, the lengths were straightened to combat frizz, curled on the ends and combed through for a soft, wavy look.

I was thrilled with my new bouncy, lighter style and the blow-dry that looked fresh and glam (I can’t be bouffant styles that make me look older than my years).  Before leaving, I asked Gianluca’s advice on how to improve my current hair colour and I’ll definitely be going back for colour soon.

I was really impressed with ESHK and loved its friendly, neighbourhood boutique salon vibe.  It’s also very affordable for central London (there’s the option for a free rough dry with colour services), so you can easily make it your regular ‘go to’ salon.

For more information and booking, visit:

All photos by ESHK


Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa, West Sussex

Have you ever wanted to live like a Medieval princess, looking out over your manor from the comfort of an opulent four poster bed?

Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa in West Sussex is the place to step back in time and immerse yourself in ye olde England.

Part of Historic Sussex Hotels, Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa in fact dates back to 1927, rather than the Middle Ages.  Lord and Lady Moyne commissioned antiquarian and architect Amyas Phillips to model the house on a Medieval country residence, indulging Lady Moyne’s love of this age.  There is of course a true relic of the Medieval era to be found at Bailiffscourt in the form of a 13th century chapel in the grounds.

I visited with my Mum for an overnight stay the night before our two-night sailing onboard the Celebrity Eclipse in nearby Southampton.  It only seemed right to break up our train journey and discover beautiful West Sussex for the first time.  We arrived at Littlehampton Station from London Victoria and the hotel was just a short 10-minute taxi ride away.

Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa is surrounded by 30 acres of land with luscious green fields, wildlife such as roaming peacocks and nearby pebbly Climping Beach.  Sadly the weather was not on our side and we were battling powerful gales that prevented us from exploring the hotel’s picturesque surroundings (we did have a stunning view from our window, though).

The hotel features 39 charming rooms and suites located in the Medieval House and a series of smaller building, some of which can be accessed through an underground tunnel.  We checked in and were taken through the maze of lounges with open fireplaces to our signature Junior Suite in the Medieval House.

The large, period-style room was certainly impressive, designed in warm ochre with bright floral and dark wood highlights.  Its interiors felt very authentic with a grand four poster bed, stone walls, mullioned windows, oil paintings and tapestries.

Other room features include a separate comfy seating area, large flat-screen satellite TV and posh tea and coffee facilities with a beautiful Polish pottery tea set and cafetiere.  We were delighted with the selection of proper ground coffee and a selection of black and herbal teas, as well as a glass pot containing delicious home-baked biscuits.

We were also kindly welcomed with a bottle of Champagne on ice and a hand-written note, as well as bottled mineral water.  There were even some board games provided, in case we felt like a rare digital detox (the hotel offers free wifi, but the signal is rather weak).

Happily, the large bathroom wasn’t in the slightest bit Medieval, in fact, it appeared to be very new.  It features a fabulous walk-in shower, roll-top bath, extra-wide towels, plush bathrobes and slippers, colourful Pip Studio accessories and two full sets of Temple Spa bathroom products.

The gem of Bailiffscourt Court is the amazing spa, where you can easily spend hours unwinding.  The spa is a real contrast to the historic interiors of the hotel, housed in a contemporary barn with high ceilings.

We loved the 12-metre indoor pool that was just the right temperature (I often find hotel pools too cold) and spent a long time in the hot, bubbling jacuzzi.  There’s also a fabulous sauna and steam room, plenty of pool loungers and a relaxation room with refreshments.

I enjoyed the most heavenly Drift Away Massage (55 mins) using lovely Temple Spa products.  It really was one of the most effective, enjoyable massages I’ve ever had and I was so deeply relaxed that I almost did drift away.  My friendly, intuitive therapist Laura worked on my back, legs and with medium pressure and then finished with a dreamy shoulders, scalp and face massage.

In the evening, we dined at the hotel’s Tapestry Restaurant, which serves a modern British menu by head chef Russell Williams.  I would’ve liked the restaurant to have the boisterous atmosphere of a Medieval banquet hall, but perhaps as hotel guests, we were all just too polite and chilled out from the spa!

I started with the Grilled scallops with cauliflower soup, baby spinach and Parmesan crisp.  The scallops were well-cooked but the cauliflower soup lacked seasoning and the dish needed another flavour such as chorizo or pancetta to add some saltiness.

The tastier choice was my mum’s Poached duck egg with artichoke puree, chargrilled ciabatta, baby spinach and wild mushrooms, which was rich and well-balanced.

We both really enjoyed our main courses – they were indulgent, colourful, well-presented and had plenty of flavour.  I loved my perfectly medium Honey glazed duck breast with braised chicory, confit duck leg and prune faggot, potato puree, spiced plum sauce and parsnip crisp.

My mum went for a lighter but equally yummy Beetroot and ricotta ravioli with barbecued winter squash and red onion, toasted pinenuts, sage and squash puree.

My dessert of Hot chocolate souffle, white chocolate cream and Bellini sauce was pleasant but much too big for one person.  However, my mum’s Glazed lemon tart with gin and tonic sorbet was zesty, fresh and just the right size.

After a glorious night’s sleep in our four-poster bed, we enjoyed a tasty breakfast in the Tapestry Restaurant.  The breakfast selection was very good with hot dishes, glazed carvery ham, cheeses, pastries, mini muffins, granola, porridge, Greek yoghurt with fruit compote and seeds and fresh juices.  In the warmer months, guests can take all meals in the pretty courtyard filled with roses.

Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa is an idyllic retreat in beautiful surroundings and the highlight of our stay was the outstanding spa.  For a weekend of pampering and fresh sea air just a short train ride away from London, Bailiffscourt offers the perfect escape.

For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was invited by Bailiffscourt Hotel

Photos by Chérie City and Bailiffscourt Hotel

London, Restaurants

A Taste of Ling Ling Mykonos at Hakkasan Hanway Place

Summer in Mykonos just got even hotter with the opening of Ling Ling, Hakkasan’s hip new nightspot.

It brings Asia’s popular izakaya concept to Greece’s chic party island and is the place to indulge in dining, drinking and dancing.

Ling Ling is a lighter take on Hakkasan’s renowned Chinese fine dining and is complete with an open-air restaurant, bar, private dining and lounge.

I would need no excuse to hop over to Mykonos for a night of dim sum and sundowner cocktails, but conveniently, Hakkasan Hanway Place is offering a taste of Ling Ling Mykonos right here in London.

I visited the one Michelin star Hakkasan Hanway Place for the first time last week and was wowed by the heavenly food, cool design and superior service.  Hakkasan really excels in creating a seductive atmosphere with moody, dimmed lighting and a cool soundtrack curated by the restaurant’s London resident DJ Pathaan.

We started our foodie journey with a Ling Ling Collins – a long cocktail made with Beefeater Gin, Green Chartreuse, cranberry, grapefruit, elderflower and lemon juice poured over crushed ice.  It was refreshing, summery and very easy to drink with a tart, zingy citrus flavour.

The limited edition Ling Ling menu is offered with three set menus to choose from – fish and seafood, meat and seafood or vegetarian.

We both went for the meat and seafood menu  and were presented with a Trio dim sum platter served piping hot in a cute little basket.  These high end dumplings were truly mind-blowing and definitely the best I’ve ever had.  Our selection included Prawn har gau, Scallop shumai topped with red tobiko and Chinese chive dumpling with prawn and crabmeat, finished with a goji berry.

The large parcel were tightly packed with fresh, well-seasoned seafood and coated in a delicate, moist dumpling skin.  I sometimes find that dim sum can become overwhelming quickly if the dough is too thick or steamed for too long that it becomes sticky, but Hakkasan’s dim sum were exemplary – I can’t stop raving about them.

Jasmine tea smoked organic pork rib was a real highlight and without a doubt the best I’ve ever had. Carved ceremoniously at the table, the ribs were so succulent and tender with a generous amount of meat and a layer of fat that simply melted in the mouth.  The glaze was very pleasant and subtle with just the right amount of smoky sweetness (no flavours were overstated).

Spicy prawn with lily bulb and almond was an unexpectedly piquant yet moreish main dish.  Five plump, juicy steamed prawns sat atop an aromatic, slightly creamy curry sauce studded with yummy toasted almonds and cooling, sweet lily bulbs.  The chili kick made my lips tingle, but I couldn’t resist adding more and more sauce to my bowl of fragrant jasmine rice.

Hakkasan is renowned for its exquisite desserts and our menu ended on a simple and sweet note with a Selection of macarons.  We grazed on the most delicious rose, pistachio and vanilla and jasmine macarons, beautifully served in a dim sum basket and adorned with a pretty orchid flower.

The macarons were freshly-baked with a light, crispy meringue shell and velvety smooth ganache – my favourite was the delicate vanilla and jasmine which had a lovely hint of white chocolate.

The Ling Ling menu at Hakkasan Hanway really was spectacular and a great way to taste a good range of signature dishes in one delightful meal.  With Hakkasan’s cool atmosphere, creative dishes and fine attention to detail, I can’t wait to see what Ling Ling Mykonos has in store.

The Ling Ling menu is available at Hakkasan Hanway Place until 31st August and is priced at £35 per person.  For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Hakkasan Hanway Place

Photos by Chérie City and Hakkasan Hanway Place

Click to add a blog post for Hakkasan on Zomato