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!

 

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London: burgers at The Fire Station, Waterloo

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I admit, I am sometimes a food snob. Not all the time, but when I go out to a restaurant, cheap or not, I want nice food.

So I am really against bad tourist trap style restaurants which London is littered with in the central areas. To be honest I thought that The Fire Station, a popular watering hole near Waterloo, was a bit like that. A central spot near one of the busiest stations in the country will be busy so long as the drinks are fine, so why would they bother about the food?!

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But, I may have to eat my hat, as I recently visited this restaurant and bar and found their burgers really good. I mean REALLY good.

The patty was nice and juicy, the bun soft but sturdy, the sauce nice and the fries too. Plus they have a great menu for children (even a three course meal including dough balls, a small burger and ice cream – I’d happily order that for myself!) and decent service even though they were rammed with customers. Thanks for proving me wrong! And thanks to my colleague for convincing me to go there with my friends.

The Fire Station, 150 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8SB

 

Almost spring (?) and visitors from home!

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The past week was full-on busy but in a good way! I made sure to celebrate pancake day in both a British and Swedish manner.

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There were savoury pancakes (with cheddar, pancetta, chives and avocado for example) and sweet ones (with nutella, whipped cream and raspberries) and of course a Swedish cream bun (fastlagsbulle) from Swedish bakery Bageriet.

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On Thursday my dear friends Maria and Daniel and their two children arrived in London so I met up with them in the evening for a quick burger at Fire Station and a catch up.

On Friday after work we met up again for a longer dinner at Tredwells, which was as child friendly as I had hoped. In fact all places we ate at were very child friendly.

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On Saturday Maria and I left Daniel to look after the kids while we went to the V&A and the fabulous Balenciaga exhibition. I’ve wanted to see it since it came on ages ago, and am so happy I managed to see it just before it ended.

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Afterwards we treated ourselves to some cupcakes at Hummingbird bakery, a little tradition of ours.

In the evening it got cold (compared to 10C and sunshine during the day) so it was perfect with dinner in the cosiest of pubs, complete with dogs (and dog treats), a fire place and comfort food.

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Yesterday we had a nice relaxed lunch at Whyte & Brown in Kingly Court before we hit the shops on Regent Street and Carnaby Street and even ventured into Hamleys (phew).

It was so lovely to spend so much time with my lovely friends! It’s far more relaxed when my friends come here than when I go home and try to make time for everyone. Such a treat!

 

A very foodie week…

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This week I’ve eaten very well. On Tuesday I had takeaway pizza with parma ham and rocket and the next day nibbles and wine with colleagues at the old favourite Terroirs.

On Thursday I had a nice catch up with a friend in Soho at this lovely Mexican place I will do a write up on later. And on Friday I got treated to a lunch out (a very rare occurrence) at lovely Dishoom.

Saturday I had lunch at a lovely fish restaurant with my friend Helen while her fiancé (the head chef) cooked for us (the scallops on the picture amongst other things)! So delicious! In the evening I saw a very moving and thoroughly amazing play in Dalston. It was only one performance, but it was so good I hope it gets put on again and then you all have to go and see it.

Sunday was nice and quiet and spent in a nice pub with Sunday roast, a glass of wine and the rugby. Now it’s a new week and I have friends coming to visit from Sweden – yay!

 

London: New York Italian at Hai Cenato?

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Jason Atherton’s empire continues to grow and the latest restaurant to open was this New York-y Italian restaurant in the new Nova development by Victoria. It’s in goof company with Rail House Café, Aster, Franco Manca etc. nearby.

The first time I came was early one Sunday evening with my friends Helen and Pete and their son Eddie. We’d had a lovely Sunday afternoon exploring the Natural History Museum, had eclairs and coffee at wonderful Maitre Choux and a walk to Buckingham Palacea and were happy to sit down and tuck into some food just as the skies opened.

Hai Cenato? (means ‘Have you had dinner?’ in Italian) certainly feels New York-y with it’s high ceilings, long bar counter, sketched portraits and cosy feel. It’s nice but relaxes and the menu echoes that with pasta dishes, rosso and bianca pizzas and meats from the grill.  and modern yet cosy interior.

They also have a kids menu and children eat free on Sundays, which is a nice touch.

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Eddie chose a pasta with tomato sauce and plenty of grated parmesan from the kids menu  and was very pleased with his choice.

Helen and I both chose the corzetti pasta with bolognese sauce sage, browned butter and grated Berkswell cheese. It was absolutely delicious and felt very indulgent. The sauce was really rich and could have done with a bit more pasta because of the richness but it was a nice size portion. We also shared a side of amazing crushed potatoes that soaked up the last of my bolognese.

Pete chose a lovely vibrant green risotto with oeas, broad beans and crab that was just perfectly executed.

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We were certainly full after our main courses but still fancied pudding and after a quick browse on the (excellent) dessert menu I chose the brioche with salted caramel ice cream. I just love salted caramel and expected a dainty dessert, perfect to finish off my meal but instead I got a large (burger size) brioche bun and THREE scoops of salted caramel ice cream (insert surprised emoji here). The flavour combination was spot on of course but the portion size ridiculous, especially after such starchy food as pasta or pizza.

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Helen’s chocolate and coffee fondant with creme fraiche, puffed rice and caramel was more the size we had expected and absolutely delicious!

We had a lovely dinner here, but also experienced some (I hope they are) teething problems like slow service and I got poured a flat glass of prosecco which just shouldn’t have left the bar and it took ages to get a new one. It’s not the end of the world of course, but I expect an overall smooth and lovely experience when I go to a restaurant, especially when it’s a quiet evening.

I went back last week with my friend Nick for pizza and a glass of wine and the service was a lot better (i.e. smooth) and the place buzzing with people. Oh, and the pizza? DIVINE!

Hai Cenato?, 2 Sir Simon Milton Square, London SW1E 5DJ

Taste of London 2016

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The week before last, Taste of London, the restaurant festival I visit every year, was on in Regents Park. It was nice like always, but I was still a bit disappointed. Some of the restaurants were not as exciting as previous years and didn’t deliver amazing dishes. Previous years it’s been a higher standard on the whole, so I hope it gets better again last year. With that said, I still tried some great dishes, but also a few disappointments. Reviews below.

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Parmesan and polenta croquetas with truffle dip from Duck & Waffle: crispy, seriously cheesy, far too rich and not enough truffle flavour. Pretty dull actually.

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Fettuccine with broad beans, Grana Padana and black truffle from Sartoria: nice pasta and generously sprinkled covered with black truffle it still didn’t impress.

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Barbecued lamm cutlet from Roka: really nice!

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Grilled pork belly with miso marinade, also from Roka: very nice!

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Soft shell crab taco from Champor Champor: not very nice, but like the idea.

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Baked scallop with mustard, chilli and cheese, covered with puff pastry from Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen: nice and different! But very filling.

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Raw red prawns with black curry and coconut crème from Restaurant M: nice flavours but the curry slightly overpowered the lovely sweet prawns.
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Bao with duck from Chai Wu: alright but now wow.

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Hotdog with truffled mac ‘n cheese bites from Bubbledogs: nice hotdog but couldn’t really taste the truffle (oil).

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Lamm meatballs with sheep’s curd from Seacontainers: OK, but nothing spectacular.

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Fried chicken burger with Asian slaw from Chicks ‘n Sours: nice!

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48 hr short rib with lovely trimmings from Restaurant M: absolutely lovely and in a class of its own!

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Bacon and cheddar burger from Shake Shack: nice enough but it doesn’t beat their Shackburger.

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SASA roll from Sushisamba: really nice! I’ve had it lots of times already, but it’s still great!

Restaurant M was a nice acquaintance, and having had the (two) SASA rolls I can’t wait to go back to Sushisamba soon, but some of the other restaurants were a bit disappointing. Hope it gets better again next year.

Taste of London, Regent’s Park – annual restaurant festival

Dinner at Magdalen, London Bridge

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There are definitely holes in my London knowledge of restaurants and I really appreciate when friends introduce me to new places. I had never heard of Magdalen near London before a friend took me there, as it’s not an area I usually frequent but Magdalen was a good find; a really cosy neighbourhood bistro.

We started with potted crab with toasted sourdough. Simple and very nice!

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For my mains I chose the pan-fried cod with leek, little beans and clams in a creamy delicious sauce. Very satisfying with subtle flavours.

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The pork belly with seriously crispy crackling, lentils and green beans was equally nice. I can honestly say that London Bridge is not one of my favourite areas in London, but having this restaurant in your neighbourhood is a little bit tempting.

Magdalen, 152 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU