London: Champagne + Fromage, Covent Garden

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Having lived in London for 10 years now (eek!) I have accepted the fact that I will never ever feel up to date on restaurants regardless of how hard I try. There are simply too many restaurants opening and changing for me to keep up. Especially since I want to go back to my favourites from time to time too.

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So I love when my friends suggest a new place to try. I had completely missed the arrival of these cute French Champagne + Fromage spots all over town, but luckily my friend Mary-Lou had spotted one so that’s where we went one evening.

We arrived without a reservation (big mistake) but although the place was packed the staff eventually managed to find us a table. That’s great service!

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Other than that the concept is pretty clear; this is where you drink champagne (we tried a lovely Blancs de Blanc that was the wine of the month) and eat cheese. We had a cheese and charcuterie board with lots of bread which was lovely, but there are also some lovely cooked food on offer. The table next to us sampled about half the menu and it all looked amazing!

Champagne + Fromage, 22 Wellington St, London WC2E 7DD

 

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London: relaxed dinner at The Ninth

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You have to search far and wide to find a more relaxed Michelin starred restaurant. In London at least. But that’s also what I love about The Ninth; that it (and its staff) seem so relaxed without losing the professional edge. That just sets a perfect ambience for the guests and you feel like it’s just your table there although there are other guests and staff surrounding you.

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It probably helps that The Ninth is situated in Charlotte Street; still central and an area for dining out, but without the worst hustle and bustle of Soho (and yet – it’s still within walking distance).

Arriving a little late, and flustered, for our dinner here – due to the sometimes terrible London traffic, it was like stepping into a calm oasis. We were seated at our table, felt like we had all the time in the world to decide on the wine and study the menu and immediately we lowered our shoulders and took the time we needed.

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Which wasn’t all that much; the only problem was narrowing down what to eat as we’d happily eaten our way through the entire menu had we been able! Instead we started with a light snack of barbajuan, little parcels filled with spinach, pine nuts and cheese (if I remember correctly). They were very good and the perfect start to our dinner.

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Next we had pasta; orecchiette with an egg yolk and PLENTY of black truffle which I love. This was a lovely dish. So simple but perfectly executed.

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Our next pasta dish was fried gnocchi with mussels, which was also very nice but slightly overshadowed by the truffle feast. In the background lovely baked root vegetables with Fourme d’Ambert. Delicious!

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The piece de resistance here was not the pudding (we were too full to even consider it!) but the main course, a beautiful duck breast cooked to perfection, with rhubarb, rainbow chard and granola. The crispy Belle de Fontenay potatoes and the root vegetables were the perfect accompaniments.

It was such a lovely dinner – and evening. Instead of pudding we had champagne at the nearby Charlotte Street Hotel and then ventured into Soho.

The Ninth, 22 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2NB

Heatwave!

London has been warm lately, even by my standards, but I do love it – apart from the humidity!

I had another quite busy week but with a few relaxing evenings to myself to balance it out. Every year I get baffled by how busy the summer is but it’s a lot of fun!

Anyway, Monday I had a relaxing evening after work, mainly to recover from the fun weekend in the country (and catch up on those chores). I had toast for dinner, because I have those days too. It was too hot to cook and having cooked so much over the weekend I just needed a break.

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Tuesday I met up with my Swedish food blogger friend Malin who was in town with her daughter Ella. They were eating as much Asian food as they could as they both love it, and so we had dim sum at Yauatcha Soho for dinner. We had a lovely dinner and I just love the food there. It’s consistently very very good. After dinner we ran across the road to a really dodgy pub to watch the extra time and penalty shoot out between Colombia and England and after England had won people were singing and dancing in the streets of Soho.

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Wednesday the weather was a little cooler, but it was still lovely to have a drink on the roof terrace before heading to Shake Shack for burgers and cheesy fries. Then we went for a walk and finished the evening with an episode of Billions.

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I had another quiet night on Thursday and made a lovely salad for dinner. And on Friday I was invited to the Roger Waters concert in Hyde Park in the evening, which was really hot and really good fun!

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On Saturday I watched Sweden lose to my second team, England, (who deserved to win) and in the evening it was more football, with Russia v. Croatia. I also cooked (!) despite the heat and made a Quiche Lorraine, that we had with a nice salad and cold rosé. And ice cream for pudding. Ice cream and ice lollies are the best in the heat!

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Sunday was a lazy day with a lie-in until noon, some chores at home and a nice afternoon in the sun on the roof terrace with the latest issue of Vogue; the best ‘me time’.

Onto the next week…

Stockholm: dinner at Hillenberg

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Saturday night in a sunny Stockholm. After a long day walking around the beautiful city we had a little breather in my friend’s flat before we got ready for a night on the town. It was actually a relief for my tired feet to swap my flats to heels, and taking a taxi to the restaurant obviously helped too.

Hillenberg, the restaurant I had booked, is the more relaxed one of Niklas Ekstedt’s (quite the frequent guest on Saturday Kitchen in the UK) two restaurants and I was super excited to try his cooking.

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On arrival we were shown to our table (with a sofa each to sit on) and started to study the menu. The service was a little slow at times, but that meant I had enough time to translate the menu and plenty of time to ponder it too.

Although I would have liked to try many things, I couldn’t resist the classic Toast Skagen, which I expected would come with a little twist. And indeed it did, as it was a deconstructed version. It was really lovely and I especially liked the dill dust on the side. Amazing mayonnaise too. Yum!

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My dinner companion had the nettle soup with äggost (a type of curdled cheese) and trout roe. Delicious!

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I was really indecisive when it came to my main course and so let our waiter influence me to try the monkfish bourguignon. It was really delicious and the “meaty” fish worked well with the powerful flavours. But the highlight was almost the velvety potato puré that was served alongside it. So rich, but beautiful!

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My dinner date had the lamb and was presented a very generous portion with lamb rack, artichokes and aubergine. Really lovely as well!

Unsurprisingly, we were too full to even be tempted by pudding. Instead we sat back (loved those sofas!) and finished our bottle of wine and just enjoyed life. Very content we weren’t completely finished with our night out and so walked around the corner to Riche for another glass of wine and lots of people watching.

Hillenberg, Humlegårdsgatan 14, 114 46 Stockholm, Sweden

Summer is here!

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FINALLY! It’s summer in London and I’m loving it. Plus it’s the World Cup and I’m of course supporting both Sweden and England. And soon Wimbledon starts too.

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London summers are always busy, probably because we try to embrace every outdoor eating and drinking opportunity we can find this time of year! And that’s exactly what I embraced the past week.

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On Tuesday it was lovely and sunny in the evening, so a friend and I had pre-dinner prosecco and snacks on the roof terrace. So lovely and something I hope to enjoy many more evenings this summer. As it was a work night and I hadn’t have much time to prep, I for once used shortcuts. Something I’m usually reluctant to do, but it was actually really nice to avoid the last minute scramble I usually have to endure to get a dinner going. Instead I turned to the supermarket for nibbles so all I did was take it out of it’s packaging, which meant I only had an easy main course and some whipping to do. Amazing!

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The main course was a proper Spaghetti Carbonara (will post the recipe soon) served with a simple green salad, and for pudding I made Eton Mess with store-bought meringues.

On Thursday two colleagues invited me along to a work event so it was networking, champagnes and canapés all evening (part of it outside!).

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On Friday I met up with Gaby and Rowena for an al fresco dinner at Ham Yard Hotel. So lovely. Eventually it got cold but then we moved inside to a comfortable table with a sofa.

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Saturday and Sunday were more relaxed; I could catch up on chores and sleep. Had time for face masks (very important), sunbathing on the roof terrace, watching the football and a nice long walk at dusk. Oh, and a trip to the cinema. I feel thoroughly recharged and ready for the next few busy weeks until I go home to Sweden at the end of July.

Stockholm highlights

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Unless you’ve been to Scandinavia in the summer, I don’t think you could understand how magical the summer is there.

Of course, summer in Britain is gorgeous too, but in Scandinavia summer is what everybody lives for. The dark and cold (and frankly, rather miserable) winter months are so depressing that summer is the goal; the light at the end of the tunnel.

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It may sound dramatic, but it’s true. So to experience the gorgeousness of Swedish summer already in the beginning of May was such a treat, I don’t think I can explain the elevation I felt.

Stockholm is a pretty city all year round, but in summer it really comes to life and is more beautiful than ever.

So the highlights I am about to share with you, are in majority linked to this beautiful summer weather. We didn’t see the point of being indoors in a museum when the sun was shining. Alas, there are many many more great things to do in Stockholm, especially in other seasons, this is just a selection.

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Brunch with friends

On the Saturday dear friends of mine invited us over for a delicious brunch in their home, and afterwards we sat in the sun on their balcony, sipping rosé and eating a crumble with strawberries and ice cream. Such a wonderful start to our weekend!

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Exploring Gamla Stan (Old Town)

I’ve been to Stockholm many times before but as it’s my capital I have not explored it the way I have London. Therefore it was great fun seeing the city through a non-Swede’s eyes. We found beautiful churches and statues I had never heard of, and obviously checked out the palace and Storkyrkan as well.

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Fika!

We do eat a lot of fika in Sweden and it’s so easy to walk to a bakery, order something yummy and sit in the sun to enjoy it. We had amazing cinnamon buns at Fabrique, who also have a café in London.

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Exploring the city by foot

Stockholm is perfect for walking or cycling and it’s by far the best way to explore the city. When we felt we “knew” the way pretty well we went on detours to explore some more.

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Visiting friends in the suburbs

An old friend of mine has recently moved to Täby with his family, so we went to visit them and it was so cosy and serene outside of the city. I would recommend visiting Zetas Trädgård (a beautiful nursery with a café) for a similar experience.

Djurgården

This beautiful island is easy to get to by tram or boat and is Stockholm’s equivalent to Richmond Park. The nature is beautiful and you can go for amazing walks here. There is a beautiful nursery with a café/restaurant; Rosendals Trädgård, as well as the fairground Gröna Lund and several museums.

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Good restaurants

We had lunch at Rolfs Kök and nibbles and wine at Tranan.

I have a few more great places to tell you about, in more detail, so stay tuned!

 

London: Taco fever!

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Tacos. It’s quite easy to get some decent ones to eat in London, there are chains everywhere, but finding some really good ones is much harder. But the search is over. Breddos Tacos (you can find them in Soho and Clerkenwell) serve up some lovely tacos and lots of nice dishes too!

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I met my friend Daisy here for dinner one night and decided to start off the evening with margaritas. That’s always a good idea, right?!

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This one with passion fruit was absolutely delicious!

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But we were hungry too and ordered some snacks. This corn and n’duja dip was amazingly good!

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And so were the baja fish tacos! This is the real deal, but my easy homemade ones are pretty good too.

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Next we had barbecued onglet which was so tender and full of flavour. Loved this! The charred spring onion and sauce was a nice accompaniment.

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I can never resist aubergine and seeing as it’s a healthy vegetable I think that’s a good rule. This grilled aubergine with tomatillo and almonds was a real delight. Soft and light but with some charred notes from the grill and acidity from the tomatillo.

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We also had the crispy pork belly tacos that were recommended to us, but I didn’t think they quite measured up to the fish ones. Can’t wait to eat my way through all the different tacos. And next time I think I’ll try the crab and bone marrow nachos too. Great menu!

I love all these smaller (although it has two levels so not tiny) restaurants in Soho where you can eat really well without breaking the bank. Most of those have a first come first serve policy but luckily Breddos Tacos take bookings, which I’m so grateful for. Queuing when hangry is hard…

Breddos Tacos, 26 Kingly St, London W1B 5QD