London: Kettner’s champagne bar

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There are bars, and then there are bars. The champagne bar in Kettner’s Townhouse falls into that latter category; it’s a bar that’s far more than a bar.

It’s dark and cosy (and open late!) and it has that old school glamour that makes me think of a lost time when women wore pearls and fur and gloves.

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Add to that a fantastic list of champagnes, both NV and vintage, to order by the glass (or bottle). To me this is the epitome of luxury; to go here, sit down at a cosy table with its own table lamp, on a comfortable sofa and order a glass of delicious vintage champagne, served in a coupe glass.

The interior has an art deco vibe that I love and the whole townhouse is wonderful. I must plan a staycation here soon. It’s obvious in the details that Kettner’s is part of the Soho House Emporium, but it has a different vibe and feels smaller and more intimate. And a little more decadent.

It’s a treat every time I go here and I will keep coming back. This is hand’s down one of my favourite bars in London!

Kettner’s Townhouse, 29 Romilly St, Soho, London W1D 5HP

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Theatre, BBQ and sport

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I must admit I feel slightly stressed that it’s already the middle of July. In less than two weeks I go home to Sweden for two weeks and I have quite a lot to do before then, but the main reason I’m stressed is that I don’t want this lovely summer to end! It’s been so lovely and I want it to continue forever.

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I’m really looking forward to my weeks in Sweden but London is lovely too at the moment. Last week was busy but fun and one of the highlight was definitely the RAF fly-over on Tuesday to mark their hundred year anniversary. Wow!

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In the evening I met up with the girls at Chick ‘n’ Sours for nachos (probably the best ever), fried chicken, cocktails and of course a proper catch-up. It was much needed and so lovely!

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On Thursday I was invited to Shakespeare’s The Tempest at an outdoor theatre in Covent Garden. Always nice with some culture!

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And before the theatre we had a quick meal at cosy Polpo nearby. Love those meatballs!

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Friday I had a (much needed) night in, with face masks, scented candles and a not great but fine rom-com.

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The weekend was all about sport, apart from the Saturday evening which was all about Tim (the birthday boy) and the barbecue him and Laura had arranged. We had Pimm’s and snacks in the garden, followed by a barbecue complete with burgers and two types of sausages and finished off with proper American s’mores. Yum! When it got dark we ventured inside for board games and champagne.

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Sunday started with a lie-in (yes!) followed by a whole afternoon in a lovely beer garden watching both the Wimbledon final and the World Cup final.

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It was nice and relaxing with a glass of rosé in hand. Afterwards we went for a little walk, then headed back for homemade club sandwiches and the last episode of Billions. Can’t wait for the next season to start!

Recipe: rhubarb parfait

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The base recipe for this parfait I’ve known since childhood, so full credit for it goes to mamma. It’s delicious on its own, and so much easier to make than ice cream. And it’s infinitely adaptable.

I’ve made it with elderflower before, and when I was at home in Sweden at the end of May mamma and I came up with this rhubarb version together. We wanted to keep the fresh acidity from the rhubarb while still keeping the sweetness of the custard-tasting parfait and I think we managed to do just that. It’s sweet but not too sweet with a hint of acidity for balance and freshness.

Rhubarb parfait, serves 4

3 egg yolks

80 g caster sugar

300 ml whipping or double cream

Rhubarb filling:

300-400 g rhubarb 

approx 2 tbsp caster sugar

Rinse and slice the rhubarb. Mix with sugar and place in a pyrex dish. Place in a 180C oven and bake for approx 20 minutes until the rhubarb has softened and most of the liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool completely.  

Beat egg yolkd and sugar until fluffy in a mixing bowl. Whip the cream in a separate bowl and add to the egg mixture.

Line a bread tin with cling film and place a 1 cm wide line of rhubarb compote in the middle of the tin lenghtways. Mix the rest of the rhubarb with the cream mixture and pour into the bread tin. Cover with cling and put in the freezer for at least 5 hours, but preferably over night. Serve with oat thins, berries, more rhubarb, whipped cream or as is.

 

 

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

 

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…

Recipe: bleak roe pizza

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Bleak roe, i.e. Swedish caviar, is a treasured ingredient in Sweden and something I can really long for. We eat it with devotion and save it for special occasions. I always make sure I have some, for emergencies, in my London freezer, and try to eat it regularly when I go home to Sweden to visit. Luckily we’re more or less feasting the whole time I come home as my parents and I are so happy to be together.

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My only “problem” with bleak roe, is that I under no circumstances want to mess it up. Therefore I often serve it like a ‘toast‘ with butterfried bread, creme fraiche or smetana and chopped red onions. Because, as we now, less is sometimes more.

But it’s equally lovely as a topping for crisps (it’s the perfect snack to accompany a glass of champagne) or served with crispy rösti as a starter.

When I was last home in May, we decided to branch out to pizza. A pizza bianco though as the tomato would rival the bleak roe too much. And, as you can probably guess, it was wonderful! I used a recipe from a restaurant in Stockholm famous for their bleak roe pizza (or löjromspizza as it’s called in Swedish) but made a few minor changes to it (because I simply can’t help myself).

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Bleak roe pizza, serves 4-6 as a starter (2 as a main course)

Translated from and adapted after Taverna Brillo’s recipe.

Pizza dough:

250 ml water

1 tbsp olive oil 

390 g 00 flour 

1 tsp dried yeast

2 tsp sea salt

Topping:

8 tbsp creme fraiche flavoured with a little lemon

100 g buffalo mozzarella 

100 g coarsely grated mature präst cheese or cheddar

80 g Kalix bleak roe

100 g creme fraiche

finely chopped red onions

finely chopped chives

dill

lemon

Ina  mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add salt, olive oil and flour. Knead the dough by hand for 15 minutes (or in a machine for 10 minutes). Divide into two, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size, approx 30 minutes. Roll out the dough and shape into round pizzas. Place on a parchment paper covered baking tray. Heat the oven to 250°C.

Spread 4 tbsp creme fraiche onto each pizza and divide the mozzarella (in chunks or slices) and präst/cheddar cheese. Bake in a low oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and top with bleak roe, creme fraiche, onions, chives, dill and lemon.