My Trip to New York 1

Part One – the Food

A few weeks ago, I returned from New York, where my friend Sara and I stayed in Brooklyn at Robin’s, the swellest girl in the whole city. It was my first time in the US, and, despite knowing that the Big Apple is not a true representation of the whole of the United States (just like London is not really synecdochic of the UK), being there highlighted how New York and London are so very different. Sure enough, Manhattan’s vibrant streets were heaving with people of all sorts of backgrounds and trades, buzzing with flickering lights beckoning passers-by, and steaming with an endless array of memorable scents, just like London’s Westend. But it made me realise that the British are a population of their own. With their self-pride, friendliness, exaggerated mannerisms, heartfelt involvement and loud enthusiasm when saying even the mildest of things, I would be more inclined to likening New Yorkers to the French or the Italians, rather than to their British counterparts. Of course it is not right to generalise to a smaller degree, such as saying whether I found one people more helpful in giving directions than the other, but I can definitely say that New York seemed to hum that little bit louder.

The food was outstanding, though that could have been that Sara and I were painstakingly selective when choosing where to have our next meal, but my favourite restaurants, which I would definitely recommend, were as follows:

Babbo

Not that it needs recommendation – this restaurant was the most up-market stop of the whole trip. Robin, Sara and I felt very much like grown-ups here, and despite only sharing a starter, a bottle of wine, a dessert, and only having a full primo (pasta main) each, we left feeling very full, which made this restaurant surprisingly affordable, particularly for its atmosphere and outstanding quality. The waiters were also impeccable – we were highly impressed by how they scooped up the crumbs from the tables making a spoon dance and glide on the tablecloth. The jewel-clad lady sitting next to us even commented on that little trick to the Jeeves-like waiter.

Luke’s on the Upper West Side

This has to be my second favourite meal of the trip, simply because now, if I were ever allowed one last meal in my life, my choice would have shifted from Osso Buco to a mighty, mayo-free but butter-soaked lobster roll. The huge chunks of lobster are velvety and melt in your mouth faster than you can say “fishing lobsters in Maine”. This roll is unfussy, simple and doesn’t need anything else added. It’s perfect. Go have it.

Luke’s on the Upper West Side. Picture taken by Sara.

Lobster Roll

Katz’s Delicatessen

This classic sammich deli did not disappoint. The sharpness of the pickles and sauerkraut cut through the richness of the pastrami, and the wholeness of the rye bread binds everything together beautifully. Needless to say, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, and in hindsight we should have just ordered one to share. After we were done with (half of our) platefuls, we both silently pretended we still had a good reason to sit there for a little longer, just because neither of us could even waddle. And no, I didn’t do a Meg Ryan impression, the place was so rammed and loud that nobody would’ve noticed, anyway.

Sara with two strangers.

What she’s having.

Shake Shack

Ooh that Shack-cago hot dog was excellent, and the curly fries were a bit different – was it maybe the first time I ever had curly fries? I think it might well have been.*

A collage of our Shake Shack experience made by Sara.

230 Fifth

We didn’t eat here, but I had a delicious Dirty Vodka Martini and the view from the rooftop was breath-taking. It was a sunny yet windy late afternoon, so they provided warm, hooded red capes for everyone. Doesn’t get much better than sipping a vodka drink in a dressing gown in front of a beautiful view – and nobody seemed to care! I really loved the vintage-like lanterns all around the rooftop.

Another cool collage made by Sara.

A small part of the view from the rooftop.

Beautiful lanterns.

Watch this space, as I am soon to post about the little fashion gems I found in New York.

*I have since discovered that what we ate were actually crinkle fries — goes to show…!

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How to Pack for a Beach Holiday – Go and Fetch Some Sunshine

Hey, I’m back!

I am very sorry for having been away for so long, but my schedule has been incredibly busy with that internship I mentioned here. But I’m free again now, so hopefully I should be able to keep you updated more often.

I am not going to get too comfy on this armchair, however, as I am soon to set off for the sandy, sun-kissed shores of Sardinia. With this in mind, I decided to write a post about what to pack on a late summer holiday.

First off: the luggage. If you are away for up to a week, there is no need to have a suitcase to check in. It is going to slow down your arrival and, needless to say, make your travel to and from the airport a lot harder. Get yourself a wheelie bag and a small purse to carry phone, earphones, passport + boarding pass and wallet, so that you’ll be able to fit it into the hand luggage, if needs be. Italian brands Carpisa and United Colors of Benetton are affordable yet very durable.

United Colours of Benetton. The smallest one is the perfect size for a week’s worth of summer clothes.

 

Carpisa. If you prefer a hardware design, this will be ideal.

 Both of these cabin-size bags are soft, which helps with the suitcase stacking, light, durable and have plenty of outside pockets for your book, iPad and camera.

Make sure you pack versatile clothes that can be dressed up or down. A good way to achieve this is to lay your outfits on your bed as you plan them day by day, which helps make matchable clothes stand out. Remember you only have a limited space in your bag so limit shoes to a pair of comfortable sandals to walk around pebbled alleys (which you will probably wear on the plane), a pair of flip flops for the beach and a pair of heels for the evening. With heels, the easier to slip off the better, in case you end up at a bar on a beach, so avoid multiple straps and laces.

Kurt Geiger. Easy chic daily sandals – currently on sale!

 

Miss Trish flip flops.

Developpa Louboutin. These hot wedges have a zip at the back for better wearability.

Make sure to bring a light-weight blazer to wear on the plane to fend off that freezing air con, which can also be used in the evenings when out. Little breezy dresses and short playsuits are great choices to minimise packing and adapt from day- to eveningwear.

L’Agence little white dress. A great day piece, match this buttoned-up dress with a black blazer and the above Louboutins for a clean-cut and trendy evening outfit.

 

Equipment playsuit. Black on yellow is a trend that has been with us from Spring ’12 thanks to Yigal Azrouël, Monique Lhuillier and Oscar de la Renta, and looks lovely on this flowery playsuit.

Don’t forget to pack a canvas, foldable beach bag!

Missoni canvas bag. Very colourful and summery.

 

Finally, pack as many bikinis as you like, they’re only tiny and it’s nice to show off different models when going back to the beach every day.

This Mara Hoffman bikini is one of my favourites for a bunch of reasons, but mostly because it channels the ‘90s trend and has a flattering bralette-shaped top which makes everything stay put and gives it a trendy finish at the back.

Mara Hoffman bikini. This bralette design is unusual and original.

Easy-peasy Wonderful Mince Pies

It’s Christmas! And as such it’s time for Yuletide baking. With this in mind, I decided to bake mince pies. Initially I wanted to make pastry and mince meat, but when I realised just how much of a fuss it is, and considering that I am pretty busy, I decided to buy two different mince meat fillings from Waitrose and see which one worked best. This recipe will yield I’d say about 20 to 22 mince pies but I made 18 and used what was left of the dough to make heart- and teddy-shaped soft cookies to hang onto my Christmas tree.

 

What you’ll need:

  • 225 g cold butter, diced
  • 350 g plain flour
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 400 g mincemeat (you can find ready-made mincemeat in most supermarkets. I tried the Classic Waitrose Mincemeat and the Cranberry and Port Waitrose Mincemeat, which was by far the best)
  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons of cold water
  • icing sugar, to dust

Preparation:

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Mix the beaten egg and water and set aside. Add the butter to the bowl and knead well. It will look like there is way too much flour to begin with, but trust me, keep working the mixture and feel free to count this as part of your workout for the week! When the dough is almost ready add half of the egg mixture and knead a little more, until you have a smooth ball of buttery dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least half an hour.

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/fan assisted 180°C. Butter 18 holes of muffin tins and line them by pressing big walnut-sized balls of pastry into each hole. Spoon the mincemeat into the pies. Pick slightly smaller balls of pastry from your Mother Dough Ball and pat them out between your hands to make round lids. Top the pies with their lids, pressing the edges gently together to seal the pies. Brush the tops with the rest of the egg mixture and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then sprinkle with icing sugar. I made two paper templates, a star and a holly leaf and held them over the mince pies while dusting the sugar to make them look extra cute.