30 January 2015

One Night In Hong Kong


I need to get out of the Thai midday sun. My fair skin needs a break. I thought I'd use the time wisely and settle in to share with you my fleeting visit to Hong Kong.


Alex and I flew in mid-afternoon on Wednesday. When we booked the holiday we decided it would be nice to have one whole night there so we could get a brief sense of the city. Following lots of helpful recommendations from my Twitter pals, we stayed in the perfectly adequate Langham Hotel (I wasn't bowled over) then walked the short distance to Victoria Harbour for the evening.


Victoria Harbour is the city's centre of trade and is known as one of the world's most thrilling urban landscapes. Lit up at night it certainly is an impressive sight to see.



The restaurant we were visiting was inside the InterContinental; a glamorous hotel I sort of wished we'd stayed in ourselves! The view of the harbour from inside the Lobby Lounge was spectacular. 


We were dining at a two Michelin star restaurant called Yan Toh Heen. It's recognised as one of the world's finest Chinese restaurants specialising in Cantonese cuisine. If we were only going to be in Hong Kong for one night, I wanted to spend our time somewhere rather special!


We already knew that we had the Peking Duck to look forward to. For this signature dish you had to give the restaurant twenty-four hours notice. I couldn't resist; it's my oriental guilty pleasure!

In preparation for our duck feast, we were presented with what was probably the biggest selection of condiments and sauces I have ever seen in my entire life


Not that I'm complaining. I love a sauce! 

Peking Duck has a long history and revered position amongst Chinese dishes. The traditional preparation leaves the skin crispy and the meat succulent and savoury. 

(I'm sorry, duck fans).

The delicious crispy skin was removed from the duck and served at our table with some very thin pancakes and the shed-load of sauces.



It was absolutely stunning, very much worth the pangs of guilt I never fail to get whenever I eat duck (especially one that is still duck-shaped!). 

For our next course, Alex had the crispy diced pork belly with mandarin zest. I chose the amazing wok-fried Wagyu beef and duck liver with a spicy sauce. Oh that ever-so soft and rich duck liver! Heaven! The dishes were accompanied by egg fried rice made with the tender meat of our Peking duck.


Now I didn't know much about Chinese desserts. I tend to be so full up by this stage of a Chinese meal that any plans for pudding are duly scrapped. On this occasion, we made room. Well, we are on holiday! 

I had the delightful chilled mango pudding, Alex ordered the four mini baked egg tartlettes (of which I ate three) and we were also kindly given a selection of yummy little pastries served on a round stand; compliments of the chef. I ate most of those too. 


Needless to say, my diet is already out the proverbial window. But what the heck! 

We had a fantastic experience at Yan Toh Heen with stunning food and attentive service. We concluded our night in Hong Kong with another romantic walk along the harbour before heading back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep. We had a 5am start the next day in order to catch our flight to Koh Samui.

But more about that later...

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24 January 2015

Breakfast At Berner's


It took me a while to decide where to book for breakfast this Saturday morning. Alex and I wanted to do a bit of shopping at Westfield in Shepherd's Bush afterwards so we decided that central was a good bet. I trawled through the breakfast menus online and before long I had my three finalists;  Heddon Street Kitchen, The Wolseley and Berner's Tavern

They all seemed amazing choices with a decent variety of dishes on offer (I do resent a limited breakfast menu!) but in the end, Berner's Tavern was my winner. I was swayed by kippers.

It was a treat to be back in the gorgeous grand dining room.


We were seated in a comfy corner and I reviewed the menu again despite knowing exactly what I was about to order.

For morning drinks it was a simple black coffee for me and a tasty banana, honey & granola smoothie for him. 

The grilled kippers came with herb butter and a watercress & parsley salad. That definitely wouldn't have been enough for me so I ordered two poached eggs and avocado to keep it company. 

The fish was delightful (not too boney!), the eggs were perfectly runny and the avocado ripe and fresh. I love avocado.

Delicious! The perfect low carb breakfast!

It was a Full English for Alex. Two eggs any style, a pork, garlic & herb sausage, Middle White back bacon, a grilled tomato, a portobello mushroom (rejected by Alex) and Stornoway black pudding.


The review was: good eggs but underwhelming meat. And another sausage wouldn't have gone amiss; they were hardly huge! To be honest, although my food was great, if I hadn't ordered the two side dishes to go with the kippers I think I'd have had an issue with the portion size too!

So would I recommend the Berner's Tavern for breakfast? Yes, I probably would as long as you're prepared to pay out for a couple of extra side dishes if you're hungry.

Although in a pleasing turn of events, Alex and I ended up having breakfast for free! We were advised by our friendly waitress that the restaurant's card system had failed. A real shame...

Alex and I headed off for a hard afternoon's shop, fueled by our unexpectedly complimentary breakfast. Not a bad start to the day at all!


***

This will be my last post before I head off on holiday. I'm going to Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan and I can't explain how excited I am! Thailand I adore and I can't wait to spend a night in Victoria Harbour and discover Tokyo! In fact, if anyone has any recommendations of where to go and what to do in Tokyo, I'm all ears! Please do tweet me or comment below!

I am hoping to blog as I go (depending on the hotels' internet!) so I shouldn't be absent for too long. 

See you on the other side!


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19 January 2015

My Big Fat Greek Luncheon


The regular readers amongst you may recall how last year Laura and I jetted off to Rhodes for a few days of sun, sea and stunningly beautiful views. We sunbathed, sipped on cocktails and ate very, very well. I've long been a big appreciator of Greek food, in particular their prolific use of cheese and filo pastry. Yummy!

With holiday memories in mind, I suggested to Laura that we pay a visit to new Kings Cross based restaurant and delicatessen, The Greek Larder. I was so excited to catch up with my best blogger buddy and enjoy some authentic Mediterranean grub.


The brunch menu is a delightful combination of traditional Greek dishes along with more modern creations. According to the website, their emphasis is on clean flavours and seasonal ingredients freshly prepared with simplicity. That sounded good to me.

It was recommended to us that we choose five or six dishes to share. 


But first thing was first - drinks! I ordered a Metaxa Rabbit; carrot juice combined with Greek spirit, Metaxa. Probably my first ever carrot-based cocktail and I can confirm that it certainly packed a punch! Laura went for a classic espresso martini. 


Pretend you didn't notice the lipstick on my teeth...

Ladies and gentlemen - our Greek feast!


We had spinach filo pie with fennel & tzatziki, lots of warm flat bread with taramasalata, octopus & fava (yellow split pea puree), Kefalotiri saganaki and venison, chestnut & quince pilaf. 


What beautiful dishes!


It was a delightful variety of tastes and textures; we made our selection well! We adored the saganaki (fried cheese) with charred red onion & candied chanterelles and I couldn't stop dipping the delicious fried flatbread into the creamy taramasalata. The venison dish was the only real let down (I thought it was a bit lacking in seasoning) but overall, it was a very enjoyable and authentic meal. You can tell both by sight and taste how fresh their ingredients are.

For dessert, we shared the baklava served with a scoop of beautiful Greek mountain tea ice cream and drizzled with honey. It tasted a bit like a mince pie! It was so nice I wished we'd ordered one each but after that huge lunch, it was probably just as well! I have a bikini to get into next week after all!


The atmosphere at The Greek Larder is very relaxed and informal. So much so that Laura and I easily spent three hours there, catching up on London, life and blogging. We were the last two left when the manager brought us over a couple of complimentary shots of Ouzo! 


Opa! 


I can confirm that we did leave the restaurant eventually but there was much more catching up for us to do yet. We found a nearby bar and spent the rest of our evening there; our Sunday lunch had turned into a taxi home at 10pm! What a wonderful one it was too.


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