31 December 2013

Goodbye 2013! It's Been A Blast!


The New Year always feels me with a touch of trepidation. It's that thought of leaving behind the last 365 days and 'starting again' that can result in all manner of mixed feelings. Tonight should be a lot of fun though; I'm going to a Vegas night (typical me!) so no doubt I'll be ringing in the new year dancing and singing along with an Elvis impersonator. Start the year as you mean to go on, that's what I say!

2013 has been a good year for me with many more ups than downs. I've baked to within an inch of my life, danced, chopped off the hair, hunted down the best cocktails, discovered the joys of Afternoon Tea and did my best to be a loving wife as well as a doting mum to fluffy Mr Jimmy Chew.

A major part for me was deciding to start Cocktails & Caroline back in February. I'd hoped it would be a half-decent alternative to Facebook; a place for family and friends to see what I get up to as well as an online diary for myself. But it became more than that. The blog gives me focus and the joy I get from working on it has only increased as the months have gone on. It's given me invitations to visit places I'd have never thought of visiting, encouraged me to discover new haunts that would have otherwise passed me by as well as being a lovely link between myself and my friends who have thankfully come along for the ride! I also love being in the position to help others plan their days and nights out in big ol' London town. Really, the only thing that’s missing from the blog is my gorgeous husband Alex...but he prefers to remain but a mystery in the world of Cocktails & Caroline!

 One of the best things about the blog is that it's lead me to make many new friends; those whose lives I love catching up with through their own wonderful blogs. Most notable of these is my new partner in culinary crime, Laura. We met up for a cocktail back in September when Laura moved down to London and our mutual love of blogging, food and finding the best things the city has to offer has made us firm friends.

So here's to 2014! A year that my diary claims is already shaping up to be a belter!

And to my readers - thank you so much for taking the time to read my ramblings and comment on them. I hope you will stick around! 

Have a blast seeing in the new year and I wish you a happy and healthy 2014!


See you on the other side!

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29 December 2013

A Glamorous Night At DSTRKT


Yes it is spelt like that, I'm not sure why. I think someone got lazy.

Having finished our lovely meal at Mango Tree, Laura and I jumped in a cab and headed to Dstrkt, a Piccadilly haunt I've been meaning to visit since it opened a couple of years ago. In fact, this particular night it was Dstrkt's 2nd Birthday. The £25 million venue was named Best London Restaurant and Club at the London Club and Bar Awards 2012.


There's no denying the glamour element. Decked out with Christmas decorations (a nice touch that most nightclubs don't bother themselves with) the club is decadent and chic. All around the outside and on the centre stage there were gorgeous dancers - some wearing clothes, some not so much - doing their thing to the DJ's who commanded the decks. A large amount of the club space is taken up with VIP seating; tables covered in ice buckets and sparkling bottles of champage. 


When you come here, you're quite likely to brush shoulders with a famous face or two. There was no-one too exciting this Wednesday evening; just a few of the TOWIE bunch who we bumped into after slipping into the VIP area at the back (thank you Candy Reign!).

Dstrkt was surprisingly unpretentious, the music was great and the dancers were fascinating to watch. The only real negative was the lack of a proper dancefloor but the areas around the many tables had to do! It's an ultra-glam night out and we had a lot of fun. 


DSTRKT London
9 Rupert Street,
London,
W1D 6DG

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27 December 2013

Have Yourself A Jazzy Little Christmas


A few days before Christmas, Mary and I visited legendary London jazz club Ronnie Scott's for their Cabaret Christmas Lunch. Although I'm not what you'd call a jazz fan, I've been to Ronnie Scott's a few times and there's something about the place that makes me want to return again and again. It's gorgeous inside with red velvet booths and long tables on tiered levels surrounding the stage. The performers and audience are as enthusiastic as each other resulting in an electric atmosphere. The food and service I've experienced has always been very good too.

The club was opened by Ronnie Scott and Pete King in 1959 in a basement on Gerrard Street in Soho. In 1965 it moved to this venue on Frith Street. The stage has featured names such as Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Amy Winehouse.

The Christmas Cabaret shows which were running throughout December were completely sold out and I was pleased to have checked their calendar early so I could book tickets. We arrived for 12.30pm and took our seats which were right next to the stage, the room already buzzing with festive excitement. Throughout the show we enjoyed great food and drink as we were entertained by jazz musicians, a fabulous singer, a magician and those lucky individuals who were picked out of the audience to take part (happily, not me!).

The show ran all afternoon but we didn't feel ready to go when the lights came up at 5pm! We'd had such a fun time that we considered trying to sneak our way back into the evening session! Of course we didn't. I'm not convinced we'd have gotten away with it...


In case you were wondering, my dress is from Asos, the belt is from French Connection and the rose lace tights from Tights Please.

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25 December 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM US!



To all my lovely readers of 2013

I wish you all the best Christmas you've ever had! Eat turkey, sausage rolls and chocolate 'til it comes out of your ears (remember, calories don't count at this time of year).

Lots of love

Caroline & Jimmy Chew

xxx

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23 December 2013

The Mango Tree, Belgravia


I adore Thai food. From the spicy green curries to coconut sticky rice, when done properly this cuisine is an explosion of flavours and fragrances. Unsurprisingly, the best Thai meals I've experienced have been on holiday in Thailand; that's no big shocker.

But there are a few restaurants I've visited in London that measure up and the Mango Tree is one of them.


My tastebuds leaped for joy when I was invited by the Belgravia restaurant to sample the menu. It was another rainy London evening, a million miles away from the glorious sun they're no doubt enjoying in Thailand at the moment. It was a Friday night out on the town for Laura and I so what better way to start the evening than with an exotic cocktail in this chic, feng-shui designed setting.

Mango Tree is one of a small group of restaurants. The original branch is in Bangkok and the most recent addition has opened as part of the world famous Harrods food hall.

We sipped on our lychee adorned drinks as we studied the menu. There was a broad choice including most classic Thai dishes you could think of as well as a large number of vegetarian options. 


We decided to begin with the seafood platter which included fresh king prawns in spicy tom yum sauce, grilled king scallops with garlic butter, soft shell crab tempur and mixed seafood satay.


Each item of seafood tasted incredibly fresh and I liked the large amount of dip on the side (I do love a dip). The melt-in-the-mouth soft shell crab was the show-stopper of which I could have eaten a whole plate on its own!

It's fair to say that this was a meal with some degree of extravagance for Laura and I; you are about to see a bottle of beautiful rose champagne being polished off by two very happy ladies.

And then a large lobster.

This eye-catching dish is the Goong Mung Korn - Canadian lobster cooked in a medium spicy choo chee red curry sauce.

What stunning colours!



We also enjoyed the roasted duck salad (with Thai parsley, onion, cherry tomatoes, chilli and honey sauce), the irresistable green curry (served inside a large pineapple) and sticky rice.


Although the delightful lobster had a real kick in that wonderful red sauce and the duck salad was pleasantly fragrant, it was the green curry that stole the show for me. I've sampled this dish on a few occasions in Thailand and I have to say that the Mango Tree definitely measured up to them. Served along side the rice, it was just heavenly.

And onto dessert (yes, we were planning on going out this evening with bellies bigger than Santa...).

We picked the dessert selection to share.


Chocolate brownie, banana & coconut pudding with caramel sauce, honey mango sticky rice and pandan (leaves from a tropical plant) & vanilla ice cream.

With the exception of the brownie which unfortunately was very dry, this sampler was lovely with a real fuse of fresh flavours. I love traditional mango sticky rice and the Mango Tree's take on this was certainly no disappointment. In fact it was gorgeous. The unusual ice cream was a real treat too.


We had a fabulous experience at the Mango Tree and the waiters were very hospitable and efficient despite the restaurant being incredibly busy.  Although it's not cheap, the food is authentic and the quality of the ingredients is very apparent. For a special occasion the Mango Tree would be a great choice.

Feeling nicely full, Laura and I headed on to DSTRKT to continue our night out. 

Coming soon...

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