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cheriecity

Hotels, New York

A Stay At Morgans New York

I’ve always loved the fun vibe and cool design of Morgans Hotel Group properties in London, so I was keen to discover where the brand originated in New York – Morgans.

We stayed there for one night and chose the hotel for its convenient Midtown location, just 15-minutes walk from Penn Station, where we took the Long Island Rail Road to Montauk for our honeymoon.

Morgans Hotel New York

Established in 1984 by Studio 54’s Ian Schrager and designed by Andrée Putman, Morgans is credited as the very first boutique hotel.  From the moment you step off busy Madison Avenue and into the monochrome lobby, it feels like a calm, minimalist sanctuary (with an inviting green tea and lemon grass scent).

Morgans Hotel New York

Our check in was super friendly and we were kindly given a pre-birthday upgrade to a Superior Queen Room on a high floor.  The room had a peaceful feel and is contemporary-classic in style, designed in soft cream, silver and black tones with an original Robert Mapplethorpe photograph.

The low-slung queen bed was covered in crisp 300-thread count linen and a chic black and cream wool throw, continuing the New York taxi-inspired checkered pattern throughout the hotel.  There was also a comfy seating area by the window, Corian writing desk, La Notte bedside lamps, two wardrobes, bathrobes and a Morgans umbrella.

Morgans Hotel New York

The small bathroom was more urban and functional than luxurious with its stainless steel sink, but the rainfall shower was fabulous and I loved the generously-sized full set of Malin & Goetz bathroom products (a Morgans Hotel Group signature).

Morgans Hotel New York bathroom

Malin & Goetz Morgans Hotel New York

The hotel’s celebrity hot spot restaurant Asia de Cuba closed a few years ago and was replaced with the more resident-focused Reserve Lounge.  At night, it’s a bold and seductive cocktail bar with a speakeasy vibe and a special Old Fashion menu.  By day, hotel guests can relax there and enjoy the complimentary amenities including tea and coffee, wifi and continental breakfast each morning.

Morgans Hotel New York

We were really impressed with the generous breakfast offering – freshly-baked pastries, sweet muffins, doughnuts, mini bagels, Greek yoghurt and honey pots, home-made granola and fresh fruit.  It was refreshing to start the day in a cooler setting than a typical hotel breakfast room and we made good use of the lounge and take-out hot drinks during our stay.

Morgans Hotel New York breakfast

Morgans is an ideal place to stay in Midtown Manhattan if you’re looking for an intimate and chic haven with thoughtful amenities that really make you feel at home.  I’d stay there again in a New York minute!

For more information and booking, visit: www.morganshotelgroup.com

Photos by Chérie City and Morgans

New York, Restaurants

Where We Ate in New York

Our visits to New York are usually foodie extravaganzas, but with our wedding and all of the preparations taking up a good portion of our recent trip, we were a bit more restrained.  That was until our honeymoon in Montauk where it was indulgence all the way!

Instead, many of our New York food discoveries were low-key, but so, so delicious – the wonderland that is the Westside Market, the magnificent deli sandwiches at Cafe Olivero (I can’t even count how many we ordered over the week), the carrot cake doughnut at Doughnut Plant and the chocolate babka at Dean & Deluca.

Here are a few of our favourite New York finds…

Little Park

On the evening of our wedding, we dined at Andrew Carmellini’s latest restaurant Little Park at the Smyth Hotel in Tribeca.  I chose Little Park for a few reasons – its chic yet informal design, creative modern American menu and its relaxed sharing dish philosophy (so many high end New York restaurants impose three or four course set menus for dinner).

Little Park - New York, NY

We enjoyed dishes such as Sullivan county chicken with morel, fava bean and garlic, Long island duck with rhubarb, broccoli rabe and confit leg and Rainbow trout with fingerling potato, celery and dill.  They were all beautifully presented with interesting flavours and they went well with a selection of delicious vegetable dishes.

Little Park New York

Desserts were Frozen Meyer lemon fluff with orange sorbet and sour candied ginger, Honey chamomile panna cotta with strawberry, lemon and amaro and our overall favourite – Cinnamon toast ice cream with brioche crumb.  Each dessert was light, cooling and aromatic – perfect for the warmer months.

Little Park New York desserts

I highly recommend trying Little Park, it’s a refreshing take on casual fine dining and it attracts a smart urban crowd (but be sure to ask for a table in the main dining room).

By Chloe

Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s cool vegan fast-food cafe, on the corner of Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, was one of our favourite foodie finds in New York.  In fact, it’s such a hit with New Yorkers and in-the-know visitors that it took quite a few attempts during our trip to grab a table – luckily on my birthday!

By Chloe West Village New York

By Chloe is all about sustainable, plant-based comfort food that is oh so tasty and reasonably priced.  It’s almost too hard to decide what to order from the all-day menu – Mac ‘n’ cheese, Pesto meatball sub, Smashed avocado toast, Quinoa taco, Kale Caesar salad and more…

By Chloe Bleecker Street NYC

We each tried a different burger – my Classic Burger was simple and full of flavour while Steven’s Mexican-inspired Guac Burger was more spicy with sweetness from the corn salsa and fresh, zesty lime.  We accompanied them with a generous portion of the most scrumptious Air baked sweet potato French fries.  They were so light and moreish with hardly any oil.  You can also help yourself to little pots of all-natural tangy beetroot ketchup and piquant chipotle mayonnaise.

By Chloe Bleecker Street New York

A second cafe has just opened in Silverlake, LA, and By Chloe is also expanding to Soho and Flat Iron, as well as Boston.  Fingers crossed for London in the distant future!

Poulette

One evening, after getting drenched in a freak rainstorm, we were in need of some home-style comfort food. Thankfully Poulette, the popular French rotisserie spot by Parisian Adam Jama, was just a short walk from our hotel over in Hell’s Kitchen.

Poulette New York

High quality, family farm-reared chickens are cooked with fresh herbs and lemon in an authentic French rotisserie machine, bringing a taste of the Parisian markets to New York.  From the set meals, we chose a whole chicken for four people, which comes with a choice of four sides, for the bargainous price of $35.95.

Poulette Hell's Kitchen New York

The chicken was tender and juicy with crispy, golden skin and a subtle herb flavour.  The skin-on fries were so moreish and I loved the garlic-infused string beans with mushrooms and brussels sprouts with tarragon. The rotisserie chicken also comes in a Caesar salad or sandwich and you can also order BBQ wings or chicken soup.

Momofuku Milk Bar

Our trip to New York wouldn’t have been complete without finally trying Momofuku Milk Bar, especially since the Midtown branch was just five minutes away from us.  Chef and owner Christina Tosi’s whimsical baked goods and cereal milk™ soft serve ice creams have become the stuff of internet legend and I was keen to see if it lived up to expectations.

Momofuku Milk Bar NYC

We tried three cookies that seem to bring out your inner child – confetti, blueberry & cream and cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow.  I enjoyed the fun flavours and the texture of the cookies, but they were super sweet and quite heavy on the glucose syrup and salt.

We revisited just before leaving for the airport for a sweet snack and some birthday cake truffles to numb the pain of the holiday ending, but the lunchtime queues were just too long.  The cookies didn’t blow me away, but I still have unfinished business at Momofuku Milk Bar.

Ralph’s Coffee

Ralph Lauren’s debut coffee shop, inside the POLO flagship store on 5th Avenue, is one of my favourite new haunts in Manhattan.  I’d expected Ralph’s Coffee to be chaotic due to its prime location, but it’s actually an oasis of calm with sleek design, charming staff and proper good coffee and tea.

Ralph's Coffee New York

It’s also perfect for people spotting, particularly that rare breed of New Yorker that lives and breathes the Ralph Lauren lifestyle.  A preppy, suited Nate Archibald type was sat to our left sipping a green juice while Bunny MacDougal in a navy blazer and neckerchief held court near the counter – the sense of theatre was like that of a Parisian terrace cafe.

Ralph's Coffee NYC

Having already visited and loved Ralph’s in Paris, The Polo Bar in the same New York flagship store is next on my list.

sweetgreen

I first heard about sweetgreen as Taylor Swift’s favourite salad place in New York and it’s easy to see why she’s a fan.  This boutique chain of deluxe make-your-own salad bars is a pretty cool lifestyle brand – its stores are sustainably designed by the same architects as 3.1 Phillip Lim, it has its own sweetlife music festival, plus Kendrick Lamar and Debbie Harry even had their own tribute salads on the menu.

However, it’s not just style over substance – sweetgreen champions healthy food on the go with farm-sourced ingredients prepared from scratch in each store’s open kitchen.

sweetgreen NYC

The salads are absolutely enormous with a generous amount of fillings and this being America, substitutions are actually welcome.  I loved the Kale Caesar, a lighter take on the classic with tasty roasted chicken while Steven’s Mexican-inspired Guacamole Greens was so zingy and full of flavour – tortilla chips were a surprisingly brilliant addition.  The self-serve iced teas and agua fresca are amazing too – natural and not packed full of sugar.

Sweet Green New York

The only problem with sweetgreen is its super-speedy assembly line system can leave you discombobulated on your first visit.  Then there’s the no cash policy, an eco initiative that seems to infuriate New Yorkers and tourists in equal measures. We ate at both the Nolita and Greenwich Village Sweet Green stores and we were more savvy to the ordering system the second time round.

Have you tried any of these New York food spots?  Where do you love to eat out in New York?

Photos by Chérie City (interiors by Little Park and sweetgreen)

Food, London

Liberty Cheesesteak Company, London

My one and only cheesesteak experience was at Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies and Cheesesteaks at Reading Terminal Market, where Obama famously stopped by to satisfy his craving while in Philadelphia. Cheesesteaks don’t come much more authentic than that and while I enjoyed every bite, there haven’t been many opportunities to indulge since.

Happily, Philly’s famous sandwich can be found at Liberty Cheesesteak Company in east London’s Spitalfield Market every day of the week – and it’s the real deal.

Liberty Cheesesteak Company London

Two years ago, Philly native JP Teti left London’s corporate world, got himself a street food van and and set about bringing a taste of home to Duke of York Square in Chelsea.  50,000 cheesesteaks later, Liberty Cheesesteak Company has a loyal following and is set to open its flagship Philadelphia experience store in Soho later this year.

Liberty Cheesesteak Company keeps the menu simple with the original Cheesesteak and two specials – Italian roast pork hoagie and Buffalo chicken cheesesteak.  Of course, I just had to try the signature Cheesesteak, which comes with the famous American Cheez Wiz, ‘wit or widout’ grilled onions and can be ordered whole (£8) or half (£5).

Liberty Cheesesteak Company London

The soft and chewy hoagie roll was filled with a generous amount of well-seasoned, tender beef and finished with a slick of that sticky, bright orange Wiz sauce that actually tasted really good.  You can of course substitute the Wiz with Provolone or American cheese, but I recommend trying it here, Liberty’s own blend might surprise you.

The Cheesesteak may look like a humble hot sandwich, but there are a few elements that need to be spot on. The prime rib-eye Brazilian and Argentinian beef is sourced from London’s top butchers, the Italian hoagie roll is baked specially for Liberty at a London bakery and then there’s the Wiz…

Liberty develops and manufactures its own surprisingly natural Wiz with a base of locally sourced cheese and no artificial flavourings or colours (a world apart from the questionable Kraft Cheez Wizz, which may or may not even contain actual cheese).

Philly Cheesesteak London

Make sure you leave room for a taste of South Philadelphia’s Italian neighbourhood with a big ole’ cannoli. The crunchy cannoli pastry is freshly hand-piped to order with a smooth mixture of ricotta, icing sugar and chocolate chips.  I personally prefer cannolis with a touch of orange blossom or citrus peel to cut through the creamy flavour, but they were still delicious and a nice way to end the meal.

Liberty Cheesesteak Company cannoli

Liberty Cheesesteak Company is a must if you love American comfort food at its very best.  I can’t wait to see what they have planned for Soho!

For more information, visit: www.cheesesteaks.co.uk

Photos by Chérie City

Chérie City was invited by Liberty Cheesesteak Company

Beauty

Clinique Summer Travel Beauty Essentials

One of the perks of arriving early at the airport (other than knowing that you win at travel) is the joy of sweeping through the duty-free beauty hall.  Aside from the savings and deals, you can find the most fantastic travel exclusives that aren’t available to buy in shops.

Clinique always does travel beauty well and this summer, there are two new offerings to tempt you while awaiting your flight.

Clinique summer travel palette

Kissed By The Sun Bronzing Palette has everything you need for a sun-kissed, healthy glow without the UVA/UVB damage.  It also enhances your dewy, fresh holiday skin and keeps your make-up low-maintenance and long-lasting.

The eye shadow duo of Sunset Glow and Black Honey are highly-pigmented and have a natural terracotta and light peachy blush look with a soft metallic finish.

Butter Shine Lipstick in Delovely is a brown-tinted shimmering nude with a balm texture while Long Last Lipstick in Blushing Nude is a very wearable creamy, deep pink nude that perfectly complements the eye colours.  The two colours actually work really well together – I like to add a touch of Delovely to the centre of the bottom lip to give Blushing Nude a bit of a lift.

True Bronze Pressed Powder Bronzer in Sunkissed gives an illuminated, medium-bronze glow without too much shimmer.  The palette also comes with luxurious, high quality brushes in a transparent pouch.

Clinique summer travel palette

My favourite Clinique skincare range has to be Moisture Surge, particularly the much-loved gel-creme.  I often stock up on these deeply hydrating products at the airport duty-free and tend to pick up a set for the best value.  This summer’s offering – the Clinique Moisture Surge Water Bottle – is one of the coolest yet.

Clinique Moisture Surge Water Bottle

It contains three handy travel-size tubes of Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief (30ml), a pot of All About Eyes (7ml) to brighten and refresh travel-fatigued eyes, High Impact Mascara (3.5ml) and Superbalm in Raspberry (7ml).  Also, when you reach your destination, you can fill up the cute water bottle to keep hydrated, whether you’re lounging by the pool or exploring the city.

Clinique Moisture Surge

The set’s combination of skincare and make-up is well-considered, as you can keep your skin fresh and clean on the flight and then spruce up for passport control with a slick of mascara and glossy balm.

Clinique Moisture Surge travel exclusive

Have you tried Clinique Moisture Surge?  What is your favourite beauty range to keep hydrated on the go?

For more tips on how to keep your skin hydrated with Clinique Moisture Surge, check out Clinique’s helpful beauty blog, The Wink.

Samples

Hotels, London

Afternoon at The Berkeley with Farfetch

Sometimes an afternoon of luxurious pampering is just what you need – and where better to blissfully unwind than The Berkeley?

I was kindly invited by the girls at Farfetch for a spa date followed by the hotel’s famous fashion-inspired afternoon tea in the new look Collins Room.  As a small group of six, it was a great opportunity to meet new bloggers and really enjoy this lovely treat.

Bamford Haybarn Spa The Berkeley

We met at The Berkeley’s Bamford Haybarn Spa and quickly robed up for a 25-minute neck and shoulder massage.  I love Bamford botanical products and was pleased to have a choice of massage oils for different health benefits – I went for balancing, invigorating geranium oil.  My friendly therapist made me feel very comfortable and gave me the most blissful, effective massage.  I left the plush treatment room feeling re-energised and supple – not wanting it to end, but knowing more was yet to come.

Bamford Haybarn Spa The Berkeley

Now, I’ve wanted to visit The Berkeley’s rooftop pool for ages, so I was delighted that my therapist told me that my fresh ginger tea would be waiting for me poolside.  We spent some time chilling in our fluffy robes by the heavenly pool, chatting all things Farfetch, fashion and blogging.  On warmer days, the roof fully retracts and there’s also a pretty, tranquil garden to enjoy the sun.

The Berkeley rooftop pool

Then, it was down to the Collins Room – The Berkeley’s bright and dreamy new dining room – for a leisurely Prêt-à-Portea.  I first tried this heavenly fashion-inspired afternoon tea when Steven took me there for Valentine’s Day many years ago, so I knew it was going to be quite an event.

The Collins Room at The Berkeley

We started by selecting our teas and marvelling at the stunning table setting complete with bespoke china by Wedgwood, pink peonies and pretty lilac menus.

The Berkeley afternoon tea

We were soon served a plate of tasty finger sandwiches and savouries such as red pepper and goat’s cheese chilled soup, carrot and cream cheese muffin and ceviche.  Prêt-à-Portea curiously doesn’t include the typical afternoon tea staple of warm scones, but with so many different bites to taste, I didn’t really miss them too much.

The Berkeley afternoon tea

Pret-a-Portea at The Berkeley

The desserts really wowed us with their elegance, creativity and riotous colours.  The beautifully-crafted selection of cakes, iced biscuits and elaborate mousses reference key pieces in the Spring-Summer 2016 collections by designers such as Balmain, Prada, Emilia Wickstead, Nicholas Kirkwood and Heidi Klein.

The Berkeley Prêt-à-Portea SS16

I loved the DVF bourbon vanilla cream and creme brulee tart and the super-light Stella McCartney tower of joconde sponge with pistachio and lime supreme, but my absolute favourite was the Christopher Kane neon chevron cake with yuzu and pineapple compote, beriolette and raspberry bavarois, topped with a yellow chocolate ring and apricot pâté de fruit.  All of us were also charmed by the dainty red velvet Prada handbag that managed to be so tiny yet so rich.

The Berkeley London Prêt-à-Portea

It was rather fun to look up the pieces on Farfetch following our afternoon tea, as many of the designers feature on the website.

The Collins Room at The Berkeley

My afternoon of fashion and pampering at The Berkeley with Farfetch was such a delight.  I was thrilled to finally discover the Bamford Haybarn Spa and Prêt-à-Portea was just as magical as I’d remembered – it’s definitely one for the top of your London ‘to do’ list.

Photos by Chérie City and The Berkeley

London, Restaurants

Weekend Brunch at Bellanger, Islington

Going out for brunch is my weapon for combating weekend laziness and with the shock of the Brexit referendum result, it would’ve been quite easy to sit at home sulking/panicking/swearing *delete as appropriate*.  Instead, we sought solace at Bellanger, knowing the soothing powers of an elegant European grand cafe and feeling well looked after.

Bellanger Islington

The latest all-day French brasserie by Corbin & King (the dynamic duo behind The Wolseley, The Delaunay, Colbert, Brasserie Zédel and more) occupies a prime spot on Islington Green and its menu is a harmonious mix of typical dishes from Alsace and Mitteleuropa, plus brunch classics.  It’s full of old world charm and feels civilised without being too starry or stuffy – in fact, it’s a bit cooler than I’d expected.

Bellanger restaurant Islington

We booked a table just a few days before and were shown to a lovely corner table at the front of the restaurant where the windows opened to the Continental-style terrace.  The atmosphere was relaxed, with the faint hum of French chanson in the background, and the service was at an appropriate pace for a chilled-out Saturday midday.

Bellanger London

I’m usually in the mood for sweet things at brunch, so I went for Waffles with caramelised banana, chocolate and crème fraîche (£6.50).  When they arrived at the table, my eyes lit up and I couldn’t help feeling like a kid again.  The waffles were freshly-made with a crispy edge and fluffy centre with properly caramelised, soft banana, a sticky and rich chocolate sauce and a drizzle of smooth crème fraîche.

Given the very reasonable price, I’d imagined the waffles to be much smaller and more like a snack, but they were quite an event – just heavenly!

Bellanger waffles with caramelised bananas

Steven went for the large Eggs Benedict (£13), as we saw them coming out of the kitchen looking very tempting.  They were definitely some of the best Eggs Benedict I’ve tasted in London.  The eggs were poached to perfection with a slight tang of vinegar and covered with flavoursome Hollandaise, fresh chives and a tiny dusting of mild curry powder.  The ham was very subtle and the toasted English muffin was springy and fresh – overall a very satisfying brunch dish.

We washed them down with some lovely full-bodied English breakfast tea served in a large pot with refined monogrammed china.

Bellanger Eggs Benedict

Bellanger is a great spot for brunch in Islington, whether you’re up for a hearty cream, cheese and meat extravaganza à la Alsace or something a bit lighter.  I now can’t wait to go back and indulge in a Croque Madame, Schnitzel, Tarte flambée or maybe a comforting pot of Coq au Riesling or Carbonade. See you there!

For more information and booking, visit: www.bellanger.co.uk

Food images by Chérie City and interiors by Nick Ingram and David Loftus for Bellanger

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

Hotels, New York

Our New York Wedding

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog front recently, but there’s a good reason why – we got married!  We spent almost two magical weeks in New York and managed to squeeze in our wedding, honeymoon and my birthday – well, they say good things come in threes!

Steven and I got engaged in the Tuileries Garden in Paris last November and have since been planning our dream trip to New York, the highlight being our intimate wedding ceremony in Central Park.  As it was a small wedding, a dedicated planner wasn’t necessary and we handled every last detail ourselves (mostly online from the UK).  But more on planning a destination wedding later…oh, the planning!

Cherie City engagement Paris

Like I said, our wedding was super-tiny with just us and the ‘rents in attendance, so everything was easy to co-ordinate once we all arrived (we travelled a few days ahead to get our marriage licence at City Hall in Tribeca).  Our HQ for the wedding part of the trip was the WestHouse Hotel New York,  a five star residence just a few block south of Central Park and Columbus Circle.  We all LOVED this hotel and quickly felt at home.

WestHouse Hotel New York

The day before the wedding, I went with my mum to the Flower District on West 28th St to pick some flowers.  The choice of blooms is quite overwhelming, but we eventually decided on the most beautiful pink peonies for my bouquet and lily of the valley for the guest buttonholes.

Thankfully my mum is a crafts goddess and had packed all kinds of floristry accessories in her suitcase to make the bouquet look perfect.  She also made my wedding dress, just as my grandmother made hers.  It’s a tradition that I really wanted to keep and we both quite enjoyed the process, from designing and sourcing fabrics to the final tweaks.

New York peonies

We then all regrouped for a walk around Greenwich Village and a picnic in my favourite Washington Square Park with deli bites from Dean & Deluca.  Cakes for the reception were from the new spring collection at Ladurée Soho and I couldn’t resist adding a selection of macarons.

While everyone chilled out in their rooms, my evening was spent sweeping Henri Bendel for last-minute accessories and finally relaxing with an excellent mani-pedi at New York Nails, just a few steps away from the hotel.

On the morning of our wedding, we enjoyed a light breakfast on the terrace at The WestHouse and my mum and I hopped in a cab to Blo Chelsea for a blow-dry and up-do.  My stylist did a great job making my hair look all soft, romantic and not overly polished, finished with twinkling star and moon clips by Anthropologie to match the beaded silk of my dress.  There was some kind of sorcery in those pins – they barely moved all day!

Cherie City wedding hair

I did my own make-up with a complete Dior kit, using techniques and tips that I’d learned in my Dior make-up lesson a few weeks before.  After adding the finishing touches to my bridal look and having a mini pep talk with my mum, I met my groom in the lobby and off we all went in a cab to Central park.

Our wedding venue was Wagner Cove, a charming and peaceful spot with a rustic pavilion overlooking the lake.  The weather was absolutely spot on with blue skies and shimmering sun and the only noises were passing rowing boats, birds chirping and turtles jumping off the rocks.

Wagner Cove Central Park

Of course, Central Park is a public space and so many people stopped to say congratulations, hear our story and take photos with us.  It turned our small wedding into something much bigger and I have New Yorkers and the city’s friendly visitors to thank for that.

Cherie City wedding in New York

The wedding ceremony was simple and beautiful.  Our officiant Sarah Smart put together some heartfelt and poignant vows and conducted it all without too much fuss.  It was all captured by our wedding photographer Emilia Randler, who gave us helpful direction and made us feel comfortable throughout.  For a blogger, I’m ridiculously camera-shy but with Emilia’s guidance, I managed to pose my way through Central Park’s most picturesque landmarks for a good two hours.

Cherie City wedding New York

We took advantage of the quiet terrace at the WestHouse for our mini reception and finally got to taste those divine Ladurée cakes and macarons.

Ladurée wedding cakes

Then it was back in a cab to Tribeca for dinner at Andrew Carmellini’s latest restaurant Little Park.  Would you believe me if I told you that it took over six months of nightly online research to find the restaurant that would fit my exact criteria?  There’s an overwhelming number of fantastic restaurants in New York and I changed my mind a few times along the way, but Little Park ticked all of the boxes and didn’t disappoint.

Little Park - New York, NY

The menu was modern American with a focus on locally-sourced ingredients and beautiful presentation.  We enjoyed dishes such as Sullivan county chicken with morel, fava bean and garlic, Long island duck with rhubarb, broccoli rabe and confit leg and Rainbow trout with fingerling potato, celery and dill.

Little Park New York

Little Park New York

Desserts were Frozen Meyer lemon fluff with orange sorbet and sour candied ginger, Honey chamomile panna cotta with strawberry, lemon and amaro and our overall favourite – Cinnamon toast ice cream with brioche crumb.

Little Park desserts

We ended this magical day on the terrace at the WestHouse marvelling at the Manhattan skyline and sharing our favourite moments of the wedding.

View from WestHouse Hotel New York

After the wedding was over, we could let loose a little (ie. make up for lost time with the hotel’s daily afternoon tea) and explore New York without a schedule.  Then it was on to Montauk in the Hamptons for our honeymoon, before spending my birthday back in New York, staying in the beautiful Modern Art Suite at hotel Warwick New York.

Our New York wedding was an absolute dream and looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  If you’re tempted by a New York destination wedding or elopement, I’ll be posting about how to plan it, with a few helpful tips that we learned along the way.

Photos by Chérie City (wedding photos by Emilia Randler and restaurant interior by Little Park)

London, Restaurants

Taste of London with Celebrity Cruises

Last night, I headed to Taste of London in Regent’s Park to sample the latest food and wine offerings from Celebrity Cruises.

Taste of London

The cruise ship company’s signature Lawn Club was recreated specially for Taste of London and it was a calm retreat with live music, boules and an elegant wine bar.

Celebrity Cruises Taste of London

Celebrity Cruises Taste of London

Chef Tato Garcia was on hand to present a three course tasting menu with wine pairings by Oz Clarke from Celebrity’s finest onboard restaurants.  I had the pleasure of trying Luminae last year, but Xpedition and Blu were new to me, so that was quite a treat.

Chef Tato Garcia

Celebrity Cruises Taste of London

A common preconception about cruises is that the food won’t be interesting or high quality and catered towards the masses.  I can tell you from personal experience that this couldn’t be further from the truth, as Celebrity works with Great British Chefs, top food personalities and local producers to create exclusive culinary experiences at its speciality fine dining restaurants.

Celebrity Cruises Taste of London

For the first course of our tasting menu, we tried Luminae’s celeriac velouté with black truffle and toasted sunflower seeds.  The smooth velouté was very subtle and was punctuated by pungent black truffle cream, garlic oil-infused mushrooms, sweet and crunchy toasted brioche and plenty of shaved truffles.

Celebrity Cruises celeriac veloute

The second course was inspired by Celebrity Cruises destination The Galapagos  – Xpedition’s corvina sea bass with sage brown butter, cavolo nero and asparagus.  This dish was so fresh and summery with julienne vegetables, a smooth carrot purée and the most delicious piece of sea bass with golden, crispy edges.

Celebrity Cruises corvina sea bass

It was hard to pick a favourite, but I absolutely loved Blu’s pistachio crusted lamb loin with juniper rhubarb jam.  The lamb was slow-cooked to perfection and the tangy rhubarb jam and crumbled pistachio were a stunning accompaniment.

Celebrity Cruises pistachio crusted lamb loin

We finished with a mini Lemon meringue tart from the Lawn Club’s afternoon tea menu, but I still had a bit more room to try a few more dishes.

The divine aromas of robata-grilled meat drew me to Roka, where I tried Kobuta no miso yaki – slow-cooked pork belly with lemon, miso and garlic soy.  It was spicy, smoky, aromatic and ever so tender, plus the portion size was on the generous side.

Roka at Taste of London

Roka at Taste of London

I always like to finish a meal on a sweet note and it was the ideal weather for a hearty Warmer apfel strudel with vanilla sauce over at German Gymnasium.  The strudel was exemplary with lots of cinnamon, tart apples and delicate pastry and I loved the smooth and light vanilla sauce.  Happily Typhoo (the one that Nigella likes) was offering complimentary cups of tea – because cake should always come with tea.

The German Gymnasium at Taste of London

Taste of London was just as good as ever and the addition of the contactless payment option at the restaurants and some shops was particularly helpful.  See you at Taste of London Winter!

Chérie City was a guest of Celebrity Cruises

All photos by Chérie City

Cafes, London

Velvet Lattes at Palm Vaults, Hackney

Sure there are plenty of places in Hackney to indulge your artisan coffee and avocado toast craving, but how many can boast a sprawling, magical indoor garden?

Palm Vaults Hackney

House plant heaven can be found at independent cafe and coffee shop Palm Vaults, a curious new addition to the top of Mare Street.  The vibe is Miami meets Biba (and a dash of Ms Haversham) with dusky pink velvet seats, pink marble tables and touches of gold, framed by willowing palms.

Palm Vaults Hackney

Palm Vaults Hackney

As if that wasn’t girly and Instagrammable enough, one of its signature drinks is the magenta-hued Velvet Latte – a concoction of natural beetroot and steamed milk that tastes like a rather earthy red velvet cake. They also do a fantastic Matcha Latte, made perfectly with a generous amount of green tea rocket fuel (and happily no bitter taste).

Palm Vaults Hackney

I can’t tell you much about the coffee, as everyone was drinking colourful lattes during our visit, but you can expect the usual flat whites and long blacks as well as frappés, iced matcha, masala chai, hojicha and gourmet hot chocolates using high quality melted chocolate from Madagascar, Venezuela and the Ivory Coast.

Palm Vaults Hackney

There’s also a selection of pastries, big and beautiful cakes by east London-based Victoria Yum and of course brunch dishes like avocado and halloumi on toast.  I didn’t really notice food menus there, but perhaps there’s more to come?

Palm Vaults Hackney

Palm Vaults Hackney

It’s also worth popping by if you love vintage, as there’s a small but well-edited selection of designer pieces.  Marlene the adorable bulldog also holds court – she was off out exploring before I could get a pic of her.  Is that enough reasons to visit Palm Vault? I think so…

All photos by Chérie City

London, Restaurants

Dinner at Barbecoa, London

A steakhouse by Jamie Oliver with sleek black and gold interiors and incredible views of St. Pauls is a winning combination for me.  In fact, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to dine at Barbecoa and indulge in some heavenly grilled meats.

Located in The City’s One New Change, Barbecoa is all about modern, accessible luxury with design by Tom Dixon and a menu of high-end comfort food.  It attracts a smart post-work crowd and is a slick affair with well-choreographed yet friendly service.

Barbecoa London

Barbecoa achieves its ‘temple of meat’ status with an open kitchen boasting an arsenal of grills and smokers, including robatas, Argentinian grills, wood-fire ovens, Texas pit smokers and a tandoor oven.  All to get that delicious smokey taste!

Barbecoa London

We visited on a particularly hot day, so we cooled down with a refreshing Elderflower Collins (£3) and Seasonal Soda (£3).  The cocktail menu is pretty exciting though, with a good range of classic and unique drinks.

To start, I went for the summery and light Burrata with asparagus, peas, broad beans, mint and roasted hazelnuts (£9).  The julienne greens and crunchy hazelnuts really enhanced the subtle flavours of the fresh, creamy burrata, making a well-rounded dish.

Barbecoa burrata

Steven’s starter of Hush Puppies with Devonshire crab, British chorizo and burnt lemon crème fraîche (£10) was rather more indulgent and intensely flavoured.  Both starters were satisfying and just the right size without being overwhelming.

Barbecoa hush puppies

The main course is where it gets really exciting, with tempting low and slow dishes such as pit beef and pulled lamb, wood-roasted whole daily catch and a great selection of steaks.

I went for my favourite cut – Fillet steak with bone marrow, smoked Béarnaise and herb salad (£35/8oz). The chunky and lean fillet steak simply melted in the mouth and was nicely charred and seasoned with plenty of sea salt and with a tender centre.

I’m not a fan of bone marrow and this one topped with garlic breadcrumbs was very oily and unappealing, but I loved the velvety smoked Béarnaise and the punchy fresh tarragon and chervil toast with tangy pink onions.

Barbecoa filet steak

Steven tried the Sirloin steak with slow-roasted tomatoes and morello olive oil (£34/12oz).  The high quality sirloin steak was juicy and succulent with a mature flavour and the tomatoes with fresh basil were an ideal accompaniment.

Barbecoa sirloin steak

Choosing our side dishes was difficult, as they all sounded yummy, but a real winner was the light and flavoursome Charred broccoli with miso and almonds (£4).  It went perfectly with the proper skin-on Beef-dripping chips with Vopaia vinegar and Cornish salt (£4).

My only criticism of the main dishes is that there is nothing for vegetarians (unless they eat fish), only the burrata starter and side dishes.  Perhaps demand isn’t high for dedicated veggie options, but it could be an issue for group dinners.

Barbecoa charred broccoli

Somehow we managed to find room for the beautifully-presented dessert tasting plate, featuring every sweet dish on the menu.  My favourite was the Snickersphere – a heavenly mix of milk chocolate ganache, smooth caramel, crispy biscuit and crushed peanuts.

Other decadent bites were the glossy and rich Barbecoa brownie, zesty Lemon meringue, Gooseberry goat’s milk cheesecake, Panna cotta with English strawberries, Lemon honeycomb mousse, Chocolate macaron, Bourbon jelly and Strawberry and vodka truffle.

Barbecoa dessert plate

Barbecoa is ideal for a stylish night out in The City with fantastic food, great views and a buzzing atmosphere.  If you’re in the mood for a truly sumptuous steak – whether it’s a blow-out Chateaubriand with truffle butter or a more modest butcher’s cut from the well-priced set menu – it’s sure to hit the spot.

For more information and booking, visit: www.barbecoa.com

Chérie City was a guest of Barbecoa

Photos by Chérie City

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

London, Restaurants

Sakura Garden at Sake no Hana, London

Last year, I visited Sake no Hana for the first time to discover its special Sakura menu, so I was delighted that it has returned for another spring.

To celebrate the season of cherry blossom, Sake no Hana has transformed its ground floor bar into a stunning cherry blossom garden with boughs of tiny white flowers and a tumbling blossom projection on the walls.

Sake No Hana London

It’s an ancient, much-loved tradition in Japan to feast and drink sake under the blooming sakura trees either during the day or at night when the boughs are lit with twinkling lights.  It’s my dream to stroll through the sakura parks of Tokyo and Kyoto, but until then, it was a pleasure to indulgence in the heart of Mayfair.

Inspired by this visual and sensory experience, Head Chef Hideki Hiwatashi has created a fabulous Sakura menu, bringing the art of Japanese hanami to London.  It has a similar ‘urban picnic’ concept as last year’s offering but with exciting new dishes and bites.

Sake No Hana Sakura

Our Sakura experience started with a dreamy Kaori Arpège cocktail – Beefeater 24 Gin, yuzu sake, cherry liqueur, peach bitters, grapefruit juice and agave.  The refreshing, citrusy cocktail was accompanied by three perfume atomisers – red cherry, black cherry and cinnamon, elderflower and jasmine and violet – to fragrance the air and enhance notes in the cocktail.

Sake No Hana Sakura cocktail

We started with the delicious Shiro Misoshiru Uguisu Tofu – steaming hot miso soup filled with spring onion, wakame seaweed and a fluffy flower-shaped piece of tofu made from edamame peas.  Its spongy texture and slightly sweet flavour made it an interesting addition to the usual classic miso soup.

Sake No Hana Shiro Misoshiru Uguisu Tofu

This was followed with a beautifully-presented Sushi and Sashimi Box – it was almost too pretty to devour. Thick slices of hamachi, akami and salmon sashimi simply melted in the mouth and were served chilled over ice in a bamboo box.

Sake No Hana Sakura

Just as delicious was the trio of nigiri – medium-fatty chu toro caviar, silky salmon kizami wasabi and fresh ama ebi nigiri.  Okura shiso maki was very unique – the okra maki was tender yet crunchy and finished with purple-hued dried sweet plum.  Another tasty bite was the Suzuki Sasazushi – flavoursome seabass sushi wrapped in a bamboo leaf to give it an aromatic taste.

Sake No Hana Sakura

The new Sakura menu also includes a choice of three tempting main courses.  Chicken Sumiyaki with spicy shichimi sauce was a generous amount of succulent, lightly caramelised pieces of grilled chicken thigh with crispy skin.  The shichimi sauce had a deep honey-soy flavour and I found it milder than I’d expected.

Sake No Hana Sakura

Salmon Miso Yaki with egg mustard sauce was meaty and satisfying with a punchy, slightly creamy dipping sauce.  Both dishes were accompanied by a leaf salad lightly dressed with refreshing yuzu and crunchy fried lotus chips.

Sake No Hana Sakura salmon

Dessert is not to be missed, especially if you love macarons!  Cherry Chocolate Sake Mousse not only looked exquisite but it tasted divine.  The dessert plate featured an intense, bitter-sweet cherry chocolate mousse and a cherry sake mousse with a softer creamy vanilla flavour.  It was made even prettier with yummy chocolate crumble and little cubes of sake jelly.

Sake No Hana Cherry Chocolate Sake Mousse

We finished the meal with the most amazing Cherry Blossom Macarons and a pot of jasmine tea.  The freshly-baked vanilla macarons were delicately hand-painted and filled with plenty of velvety cherry blossom tea ganache.

Sake No Hana cherry blossom macarons

It was such a delight to enjoy this beautiful feast under the cherry blossom and I love how chilled out the bar is, even when the restaurant upstairs is busy.  Go quickly, before the blossom disappears for another year.

The Sakura Menu at Sake no Hana is priced at £34 per person and is available until 18th June.  For more information and booking, visit: www.sakenohana.com

Chérie City was a guest of Sake no Hana

Photos by Chérie City (interior image by Sake no Hana)

 

Drinks

A Lazy Sunday with Rekorderlig Cider Cocktails

Before the arduous task of packing for almost two weeks in New York, we wanted to enjoy a proper lazy Sunday and make the most of the glorious sunshine.  On a warm day in east London, everyone flocks to the park (especially those of us with baking hot apartments and no outdoor space) and we’re very fortunate to have London Fields right on our doorstep. 

Rekorderlig Cider Cocktails

Rekorderlig Cider Cocktails

Armed with a hamper full of ice cold Rekorderlig Cider Cocktails and some scrumptious Eton Mess Tarts, we scored a great spot in the park to chill out, watch a local cricket match and spot French bulldog puppies tumbling around the grass – what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Rekorderlig Cider Cocktails

Rekorderlig Cider Cocktails

My summer drink of choice has often been a Rekorderlig Swedish flavoured cider over lots of ice (there are so many different ones to try), so I was excited to taste the recently-launched cocktail range.

Rekorderlig Cider Cocktails

A trio of original flavoured ciders are blended with premium spirits to create classic cocktails with a modern twist.  There’s the zingy Passion fruit Gimlet made with gin and a hint of lime, a Wild Berries Bramble bursting with dark fruit and white rum and a cool, citrusy Swedish Punch mixing strawberry-lime cider with vodka, mint and elderflower.

Rekorderlig Cider Cocktails

The cocktails are so refreshing and really awaken the senses, plus the spirits give the cider a real kick.  Best of all, they come in a slim can for easy opening and drinking – just add a cute straw for the finishing touch.

Rekorderlig Cider Cocktails

They’re the perfect fruity tipple to bring to a festival or serve at a garden party or a barbecue with family and friends.  I like the idea of having three completely different cocktails ready to drink, saving time and effort on mixing and stocking up on a hundred different bar ingredients (really, how often would you use that bottle of Blue Curaçao).

Rekorderlig Cider Cocktails

Have you tried Rekorderlig Cider Cocktails yet?  Which flavour tempts you the most?

This post was written in collaboration with Rekorderlig 

All photos by Chérie City