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My 5 favourite bars in London for a classic Cuban Mojito

The Mojito is one of the world’s most popular classic cocktail, and a favourite of both Ernest Hemingway, who spent many days in La Bodeguita del Medio sipping mojitos during his time in Cuba, and mine, and this is the drink I order (majority of the time), whenever I want to relax and unwind.

So where in London can you be guaranteed to have a delicious Cuban Mojito?

W Lounge at W London

With uber stylish,  Contemporary decor, and ultra comfortable seating, the W Lounge is a lovely chic bar to enjoy really good cocktails in a vibrant and trendy venue.

Check out: http://www.wlondon.co.uk/w-hotel-bar

 

Drake and Morgan Kings Cross

With classy and unique decor, this spacious bar, spread over 2 floors, is a really nice venue for a catch up with colleagues, friends and to have some decent and delicious cocktails. Located in Kings Cross, a few minutes walk from the underground station, it has a really nice atmosphere and vibe.

 

 

Check out: http://drakeandmorgan.co.uk/kings-cross/

The Artesian bar at the Langham

Voted the world’s best bar for 4 consecutive years, it is easy to see why with cocktails made with quirky but classy drama and one of the best Mojitos I have had in London. I love the relaxed vibe despite being located in a 5 star hotel, with neighbouring restaurants such as Roux at the Landau.

I love this bar and it is always the one I think of going to whenever I am near Oxford Street.

 

Check out: http://www.artesian-bar.co.uk

The Connaught Bar

With a luxurious upmarket feel, beautiful colours, and ultra stylish decor, The Connaught Bar in Mayfair, at the 5 star hotel, The Connaught, did have the best Mojito I have had in London. Not surprising as it has won many accolades, such as World’s Best Cocktail Bar.

 

Check out: http://www.the-connaught.co.uk/mayfair-bars/connaught-bar/

Smith & Whistle

Your Mayfair Local. Well at least mine if I am around Green Park! I love this bar, with its theme of detectives, mystery and missions, and it is such a lovely relaxed space, with amazing service. There is also an outside seating area if the weather plays ball!

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Located at the Sheraton Grand Park Lane Hotel, it is a fantastic bar for fun catch ups with friends, family or work mates. The mojito is pretty spectacular too!

 

Check out: http://www.smithandwhistle.com

If you have had a really good Mojito in London I would love to know where (in the name of research) so let me know in the comments below!

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Packing more efficiently for a weekend away or a short break

Packing for a weekend away or mini short break can be harder (well at least I find it harder), than packing for a long haul trip.

Here are some ideas on how to pack more efficiently:

  • Pick the right bag! I love the Antler backpack as it has so many compartments, spacious, and so convenient as you can carry it like a backpack and leave your hands free. (This is not a sponsored post I bought this bag for my weekend trip to St Malo)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • It is worth having a rough idea of what you’ll be doing. This will make it so much easier when it comes to getting the balance between smart, casual and comfortable clothing and shoes right.
  •  ‘Team work makes the dream work’ – Avoid packing too much by  thinking about pieces that can easily be teamed together.
  • Check the weather beforehand as it will be a good indicator of what to pack for long weekends.
  • Wear your bulkiest items, especially shoes!
  • Only pack what you need. Avoid the temptation to pack “just in case” outfits.
  • Put toiletries into smaller bottles to save space.
  • Roll your clothes when packing. Not only will this save space, it will avoid your clothes getting creased too.
  • Make the most of your technology. If you are planning to read, download the book on your tablet or phone instead.
  • Take screenshots of maps and save them on your phone. This is so useful especially if you are in an area with limited data coverage and means you don’t need to pack additional things.
  • Utilize the space inside your shoes – you can stuff them with things like phone chargers, socks, nail polish, and extra pairs of sunglasses.
  • Check if your hotel already provides a hairdryer and if so, don’t take yours.
  • For bulky items such as camera chargers, pack a spare camera battery instead.

Do you have any tips on packing more efficiently? Would love to know in the comments below.

For more information on the Antler range of bags go to: https://www.antler.co.uk

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Conquering my fear of heights at the ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide #RideTheSlide

For someone with a phobia of heights and not a daredevil by any means, going on the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide, designed by Belgian artist Carsten Höller, as part of a team afternoon, with R, M and P, filled me with dread and when the day arrived I was a bundle of nerves.

What didn’t help was I read reviews that stated “not for the fainthearted” and for “adrenalin rush seekers.” I am a wimp.

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The ArcelorMittal Orbit, which is Sir Anish Kapoor’s sculpture in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to me, looks like a giant Shisha pipe, and the slide looping around it from a ground level view is slightly terrifying. You can even choose to abseil down it but I personally don’t have the courage to go that far! It is pretty new, having opened towards the end of June.

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Once we took the short DLR ride from work to the park, we first went to the viewing platform, which has an alternate view of the cityscape of London, the Olympic park and Stratford in general. It is lovely up there and you can even walk on the outside bit with a mesh floor. Just don’t look down if you are scared of heights!

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We then walked down the mesh stairs to the floor where the slide starts from and joined the queue of excited people waiting their turn, as well as onlookers watching each person take the plunge. You could hear lots of screams, but it was unclear whether they were of terror or excitement.

It is said to be the world’s tallest, longest and fastest tunnel slide and guaranteed to give you a hair-raising London experience. It definitely did do that.

The scariest bit is when it is your turn to go,  you have to push yourself down the slide into the unknown and as each person took their turn, most let out a scream or gasped, which really did not help mine or M’s fear, and the closer we got to our turn the more I was starting to chicken out.

M even almost gave her ticket away to another lady at one point who wanted to go but the tickets were sold out. So glad she didn’t and lesson from this is really recommend booking in advance!

We were soon kitted out in dodgy looking head gear, tight arm pads, and if you weren’t wearing trousers, you were given knee pads too.  I am so glad we weren’t allowed our phones or cameras up there so there is no evidence of how bad we looked!

You can store your belongings safely in lockers as I am sure you don’t want to lose anything in that slide.

Once it is your turn to go on the slide, you are given a upmarket version of a helter skelter style mat, that you have to keep your feet firmly in and hold on to.

We sent R, our manager first, as we were still so scared, and he didn’t even scream as he descended down the structure, absolutely loved it and waited for each of us to arrive at the end.

M went next and it took her a few minutes to pluck up the courage to go through with it and in the end the attendant pushed her down. She let out a scream initially, and as I was going next, I could see her arrive at the end on a screen next to where I was lying down and waiting my turn, and she looked terrified, which made me more nervous so I said to P, that I couldn’t go through with it.

A few words of encouragement later from P, and there I was, lying down ready to experience the slide. I couldn’t bring myself to push myself down as I was totally freaked out at this point and so I asked the attendant to push me while I shut my eyes.

In order to go down the slide correctly, you have to lie down, tuck your chin in and keep your elbows in.

After 178 metres of scary but exhilarating twists and turns, loops,  jumps and a little bit of throwing around whilst weaving 12 times around the structure at rapid speed,  I arrived at the bottom, having absolutely loved all 32 seconds of it.

I won’t lie, the scariest bit is right at the start when you are initially about to go down as you have no idea what to expect, but after a few seconds it is amazing! You can get glimpses of the city and Olympic stadium as you go down if you haven’t closed your eyes, as the top part of the slide is clear.

The last stretch is a 50m drop named the  “the bettfeder” (bedspring in German)  for a final bit of butterfly inducing fun, before you finally come to a stop into the bright open.

It is less scary than a rollercoaster, and you definitely do get an adrenalin rush, which I discovered, I was actually fine with.

I was left wanting to go straight back up on it, and as I chatted to M and R, while waiting for P to arrive at the finish line, we all felt “euphoric”, word of the day by M. I would definitely go again and next time it will be less shrieks and more attempts to catch glimpses of the views as you go down the structure.

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I really recommend booking tickets in advance. The Slide cost £15 for adults, £10 for children. Even if you are scared of heights, it is so worth it, not that bad at all, and so much fun! Something to do at least once🙂 You can go grab food or drinks in neighbouring Westfield after, meaning you can make a day out of it.

For more information and to book tickets go to: http://arcelormittalorbit.com

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A review of The Meat Co.

The Meat Co is a mixture between a fine dining restaurant and steakhouse, which is right up my street. The restaurant group is originally from South Africa, and its first London restaurant can be found at the Southern Terrace end at Westfield’s Shepards Bush.

It is split over 2 massive floors, where the downstairs is a bar, and the upstairs is a spacious dining area, with warm dark tones and striking design, decorated with a massive wall lined with bottles of wine. Dream decor!

It is really comfortable with an upmarket feel and the seating is adequately spaced out and depending on where you sit, you have a view of the open kitchen area and can see the chefs at work, which is so much fun.

I was invited to review and so took my friend Oli with me, as he is the one person who would appreciate a good bottle of wine and some decent steak as a lot of our previous catch ups when we worked together have been over steak.

The menu is really impressive and there is such a good selection of starters, mains and desserts, as well as sharing platters if you feel like trying a little bit of everything. The restaurant also has a separate Halal menu and caters well for vegetarians too.

 

While we decided what to order, we nibbled on complimentary beef biltong coated with salt and pepper and caught up on each others lives as we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of months.

Upon recommendation from the waiter, we decided to go for the Entree Tasting Platter, which had Braised Rib Meat Cigars & Balsamic Mayo, Salt and Pepper Calamari served with homemade Nam Jim sauce, Chicken Wings with blue cheese dip, and Bruschetta. There were generous portions of each on the platter.

My favourite from this platter was the chicken wings with a blue cheese dip, which were addictive and moreish, followed by the bruschetta, with freshly diced tomato, red onion, creamy feta, Parmesan, basil and pesto with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. The Calamari was tender and crispy and the Meat Cigars were really tasty too, with a nice crunchy exterior and an interior full of flavour.

We hadn’t decided what wine we were going to have and so relied on the waiter to recommend a good one based on our taste preferences and what we were eating, and he recommended a Pinot Noir (2014), which was really nice and very easy to drink.

Unfortunately from a mixture of our indecisiveness and then our starters arriving before we ordered, we started on the wine a little later than we would have liked but we soon made up for this.

For mains, I went for the rib eye steak well done, with a garlic butter and green peppercorn sauce (I couldn’t decide between the two sauces so ordered both), and Oli went for the Fillet steak. I went for 300 grams and Oli went for the 500 grams. They were both served with fries and we also shared creamy spinach and garlic mushrooms on the side.

What is special about the steak at the Meat Co is the meat is from the British isles, dry aged up to 30 days & then wet aged to ensure succulent, tender steaks of the highest quality. They were really delicious and cooked exactly how we both wanted them to be. Well done means well done here and medium rare is exactly that so order exactly how you want it cooked.

It was then time for dessert and Oli went for the “Madiba Charity Malva Pudding,” which is Nelson Mandela’s favourite pudding and similar to a Sticky Toffee Pudding, and having tried a little bit of it I had major dessert choice envy. It was served warm and it wasn’t sickly sweet but that perfect sweetness which leaves you desiring more and more.

My choice of dessert was the Peanut Butter Cheesecake, which was really scrumptious too and presented beautifully. You can never go wrong with Peanut Butter and in a cheesecake form its even better🙂

The service was really good, and the waiters were attentive and made some really good recommendations on what to eat and drink. If you are a steak lover, or love South African food, this is a fantastic venue for amazing meats and they really do have a fantastic choice.

The prices are on the slightly higher side but you do get exceptional cuts of meat and really fabulous food and the experience is fantastic and enjoyable.

I really liked the venue and the decor and  especially the expansive menus, both for food and wine. It would make a fantastic venue for a celebration and I think its amazing that they cater so well for both Halal dietary requirements as well as vegetarians, so if you are in a big group there is something for everyone.

As it is located in Westfield, it is the perfect place to stop for a lovely lunch or an early dinner in between or after a day of shopping.  The ambience is really lovely.

I would give it a 8/10.

For more information go to: https://www.themeatco.com/hello-10

I was invited to review and my meal was complimentary. However, all views, photos and opinions are my own.

 

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Product review: Ainsley Harriott’s Cous Cous range

I remember coming home after school and watching Ainsley Harriott on TV. What a chef! When I was asked to review his newly relaunched Cous Cous range I was keen to give it a go as Cous Cous is a dish I have been slightly scared of cooking.

These packs are 125g and perfect for days when you haven’t got much time and want to eat something healthy, low fat and which tastes really good.

I had my eyes on the Aromatic Thai Style Cous Cous and so on my working from home day I decided to try it out for lunch.

I stir fried some tofu pieces in a chilli and garlic paste (shop bought) and set aside. I then prepared the Cous Cous by simply placing it in a  bowl and pouring 200ml of hot water over it. I let it stand for 3 minutes to let the Cous Cous absorb the water and then it was ready to eat!

I added the Tofu pieces and that was it! Lunch was ready🙂

 

As it was a particularly warm day, I decided to eat my lunch al fresco in the sunshine. It was delicious and I loved all the different aromatic flavours.

There are other unique and interesting flavours in the range such as Moroccan Medley, Sundried Tomato and Garlic, Lemon, Mint and Parsley, Tomato and Chilli, Wild Mushroom, Spice Sensation and Roasted Vegetable. I can’t wait to try the other flavours.

This was such a quick, fantastic and tasty meal and 1 packet has so much Cous Cous it could feed 2 people! I was so stuffed after eating it and really enjoyed it. You don’t even have to add other ingredients as it is packed full of so much flavour already. If you like Cous Cous this is really tasty!

For more information go to: http://www.ainsley-harriott.com/products/cous-cous

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Coconut Water and Mint Ice Cubes 

In the heat it is so important to keep hydrated and if you don’t like drinking plain water, here’s an idea to spruce it up in a healthy way without cordials or mixers.

I have simply filled an ice cube tray with Innocent coconut water with a pinch of chopped fresh mint leaves in each slot and frozen these.

All you then simply do is pop a couple of Coconut Water and Mint Ice Cubes into your glass or bottle and not only will the ice keep your drink cold, it will infuse the water with the flavours of the coconut water and mint. Delicious!

Keeping hydrated is very important because, aside from preventing you from getting dehydrated:

  1. It boosts your mood
  2. It prevents headaches
  3. It helps keep your mind sharp
  4. It helps digestion
  5. It helps keep your blood pressure relatively normal

What are your favourite ways to stay hydrated?

This post is in collaboration with Innocent Coconut Water, which is best served chilled.