Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Dirty Tommi's Pop Up, Kensington

Now that it's suddenly awfully chilly outside, it's the perfect timing for one of the greatest London comfort food collaborations with Dirty Bones and Tommi's Burger Joint. Introducing Dirty Tommi's, now available for burger critics and hot dog fans alike each Sunday from 12-4pm and 6-11pm at Dirty Bones in Kensington Church Street.
The pairing of these two fingering licking good menus with the especially created new Dirty Tommi's dishes means there is truly something for everyone to feast on. Grab your expandable waist trousers and leave your diets at the door for some seriously deliciously dirtaay grub - you have been warned!
Behold: The Dirty Mac Burger

I had only ever been to Dirty Bones before for cocktails, although I've heard an earful from my foodie friends on how amazing their hot dogs and flat iron steak are, not to mention those dirty fries. I'm already a huge fan of Tommi's Burgers, so I was pretty excited to test out Dirty Tommi's on opening night for myself with fellow burger loving pals.
My first impression was how much atmosphere Dirty Tommi's has on a Sunday night - it immediately ticked a lot of my boxes for what constitutes a great date night venue. Although it's quite dimly lit in the evening (hence the reason why a lot of my pictures look like I took them in a cave!), there is a buzzing atmosphere with DJs and live music and the décor gives off a retro hot dog bar vibe.
Photo credit
We tried as many dishes as we could eat, but I have to admit I was rather destroyed by the  juicy beast that is the Dirty Mac Burger (£10.00):
Yes, that's mac & cheese on top a Tommi's beef patty with Dirty Bones steak glaze, and a smidgeon of lettuce. I had my doubts when I first placed my order, but holy cow (sorry!), mac & cheese goes great on a burger. The flavour was absolute pure cheesy genius! Washing it down with a Strawberry Shortbread Shake (£8.50) was a must.
A creamy blended mixture of strawberry and vanilla ice cream, shortbread spread, milk, strawberry sauce and a splash of Finlandia vodka - hands down the best way to get your daily dose of calcium. On cold October nights, this comforting boozy shake will not disappoint!
When a side of regular fries just won't do!

You can't have a burger with mac & cheese without having some over the top indulging Sloppi Dirty Fries (£5.50). A calorific combination of triple cooked fries covered in Tommi's sloppi joe mince and Dirty Bones gravy topped with Kimchi sauce and spring onions. Practically an entree by itself.
We had to try a 'dog' while in Dirty Bones's home court, so a Tommi's Burger Dog (£11.00) is what we ordered. A hot dog consisting of Tommi's burger meat served 'doggy style' with confit onion, Dirty Bones short rib, dill pickles with crispy shallots and dirty cheese sauce on top. The  Tommi's Burger Dog is a real showstopper at Dirty Tommi's Pop Up. It's easily the dirtiest dog I have ever had!
Another reason I rate this pop up so highly is because of the charming and lovely staff at Dirty Tommi's. They were kind, knowledgeable and had a great sense of humour, which I always value. 
At the end of your meal you are invited to share your feedback in a Dirty Bones notebook, which is filled with pictures of burgers, cartoon hot dogs and romantics leaving their phone numbers and Twitter handles. We couldn't stop laughing when we stumbled upon Giacomo's message - LOLZ!

Hurry up and grab your fellow carnivorous buddies and check out Dirty Tommi's Pop Up for the fiercest, juiciest and most tantalising comfort food around town. 

Dirty Tommi’s at Dirty Bones
020 7920 6434

Sundays from 12 - 4pm and 6pm - 11pm

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Weird & Wonderful Tokyo Souvenirs

I never imagined I would completely fall in love with Tokyo until I visited earlier this month. I was only there a few days, so I had to make the most of every last minute and see as much as possible. I walked, ate and shopped my way around the districts of Shibuya, Harajuku, Roppongi, Shinjuku and Minato. Exploring a foreign city which is illuminated by lights and lanterns at night was a pretty dreamy way to get lost in translation in Tokyo.
It's true what they say about visiting Tokyo for the first time, the food is just unbelievable, you can easily buy a kimono, Japanese tea services are a must-try, the Tsukiji fish market will surpass your wildest dreams, the jet lag is insane and the loos are mind blowing. For first time visitors (like me!) it is hard to anticipate the many wild, crazy and typically Japanese items you will stumble across. In case you are headed to Japan sometime soon, here are my top eccentric souvenirs from Tokyo:

Green Tea Oreos
Just when you thought Oreos couldn't be any more addictive, add a dash of neon coloured green tea to the equation and you have struck the cookie jackpot. My only regret is not buying more! 

Strawberry, Bean and Green Tea Kit Kats
It's a mystery why these enhanced Kit Kat flavours haven't made it to the UK or US as I have no doubt they would fly off store shelves. I now prefer the strawberry Kit Kat to the original. Further reason for my next visit?

Clear Umbrellas
The Japanese are such fashionistas that the umbrella of choice to be seen using in Tokyo is translucent in colour - to match every outfit of course! Downpours have never looked so chic.

Harajuku Shoes
You have to see these elevated beauties in person to believe they exist- or that it's humanly possible to walk in them! The achingly cool Harajuku girl platform shoes worn by Tokyo's youth must make Lady Gaga proud. Rabbit tail pom pom footwear accessory sold separately.

His & Hers Wine Kimonos
For the couple that has everything, behold these stylish male and female kimonos for your wine bottles -Valentine's Day present solved! 

Sparkling Sake
Prosecco is soo last season. Get the party started with sparkling sake - it's bound to be a crowd pleaser.

Baby Makeup
There are no words to describe seeing an entire aisle of baby makeup in a Japanese department store including powders, lip gloss and designer scented baby wipes for your little one. You can never start pampering yourself too early?!

Shampoo Hats
Keep shampoo out of your eyes with this revolutionary stylish shampoo 'support hat'. Great for unruly tots or granny, although I can imagine the shampoo hat application could get tricky.

Face Brightener Cream
This self-application foam mask takes feeling bright and breezy to a whole new level!

Snail Face Masks
One of the latest beauty fads to hit Tokyo is the snail essence face mask from Korea. This slimy moisturizing beauty treatment smells surprisingly nice and practically injects collagen into your face upon application. 
Perhaps one of your best chances of getting upgraded on the flight home is applying a snail mask mid-flight. This mask is great for combating jet lagged skin - all hail the snail!

Quacking Dog Muzzles
It took me a while to figure out how this duck shaped dog muzzle worked, but essentially it humiliates your dog to stop it barking. Quacking mad right?! A new dog training trick to try when Fido misbehaves...
Canine Kimonos
Another shocker on store shelves was the doggy kimono. Halloween can never come too early right? Just when I assumed this outfit was for pint sized pooches only, along came these rather fabulous kimono clad huskies. 

Super 'Kawaii' Toys
One of Gwen Stefani's songs, Harajuku Girls, speaks about Japanese school girls' fatal attraction to cuteness - aka, items that are super 'kawaii,' which means super cute in Japanese. And now I see what she meant. The rather ridiculous plush toys in Japan are so utterly adorable, it is hard not to instantly fall in love with them. 

The only other advice I would give anyone traveling to Tokyo for the first time, would be to bring your camera charger and not be ashamed about transforming into that tourist with a camera at the ready. I said "Konichiwa" (which means 'hi' in Japanese) to these teenage boys and this was their reaction!
Sayonara for now Tokyo, next time I'm bringing a larger suitcase with me! 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Eastway Brunch, Andaz Liverpool Street

Catching up with friends and family over brunch and one too many Bloody Marys is always a weekend highlight. London's restaurant scene is constantly changing, so I try to explore as many new places as I can during my weekends. So when Andaz Liverpool Street's new Eastway brunch debuted, I hopped on my Brompton bike and cycled east to mingle with East London's hipsters and try out the latest brunch in town.
Eastway is an East End brasserie inside the Andaz Liverpool Street hotel, which is a stone's throw from Liverpool Street station. I've told you before about this fab hotel during a previous weekend visit to East London. When I first walked in to the new Eastway brunch I couldn't help but gravitate towards the most glorious Bloody Mary Bar I have ever seen. Behold!
Buffet style brunches are not usually my top pick, but this was not the case at the Bloody Hell It's DIY Bloody Mary Bar! Imagine numerous types of infused vodkas to choose from along with an entire counter of locally sourced accompaniments, spices, extras and a resident vodka expert, Christos Lagkadinos, to help you make the perfect afternoon tipple. Pure Bloody Mary Bliss!
Chris really knows how to create a sensational Bloody Mary like you've never tasted before. I would typically steer clear of Jack Daniels BBQ sauce, bacon, rosemary and onions in my Bloody Mary, but as I soon learned, if your drink is being concocted by Chris, then you are in very good hands. As the sign on the counter suggested, this Bloody Mary truly did spice up my life!
With a showstopper Bloody Mary in hand to kick start brunch, we read through the newspaper styled Eastway brunch menu trying to decipher what to try from the tantalising selection. The menu cleverly offers something for everyone from traditional breakfast classics to more innovative dishes.
We sampled one of Eastway's signature brunch dishes, the Love it Or 'Ate It' Chicken (£15), a Marmite glazed confit chicken leg with tomatoes and a side of spiced rosemary and bacon waffles. I'm not usually wild for Marmite, but this I had to try.
Wing and waffles - it's what's for breakfast!
You can't come to this area of London and not try Eggs on Brick Lane (£12), a finger licking combination of mild curried potatoes on a dosa pancake with poached eggs and smoked tomato chutney. This delicious dish cleverly pays tribute to the popular Brick Lane curry houses. I never realised how well Indian spices compliment eggs before. 
Last but not least, we also tried Eggs Sanchez (£12), which consists of two perfectly poached eggs with chorizo, rocket and guacamole served on top an English muffin with hollandaise sauce. In case you haven't tried this combo before, guacamole and hollandaise sauce paired together is to die for - I'm embarrassed to admit this plate was spotless minutes later!
As we sipped our post brunch coffee and discussed the longer cycle route home we would need after such a caloric brunch, ta da, the most gorgeously presented selection of Petits Fours (£5) arrived. They were almost too pretty to eat... almost!
I have no idea how the chef managed to create the miniature iced banoffee pie with banana fritters, but it is like no other pudding I have ever tasted. Further reason to come back again for more! You don't have to bike home afterwards, but after such a fabulous brunch we barely noticed the miles drifting home on cloud nine.
For a crowd pleasing brunch that won't disappoint, I couldn't recommend Eastway more highly. The food is delicious, the Bloody Mary bar is off the charts, the staff are delightful and the prices are competitive for London. I will definitely be back for more.
The new Eastway brunch is available Saturday and Sunday from 10AM - 4pm. Go on then, let Eastway's new brunch spice up your life, East's Way!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Insta-Dogs: The Popular Pooches of Instagram

Over the past few months I have progressively become more and more addicted to Instagram. I love having visual updates from my friends all around the world with a click of an app and unashamedly being able to see personal pictures of famous celebrities (and more!). I never envisioned myself obsessing over dogs, but before I knew it I was regularly 'checking in on' several doggy accounts on Instagram that had me oohing, ahhing, and cracking up. Turns out Insta (as I like to call it), is also a massive cyber community of adorable dogs striking ridiculous poses with hilarious captions. Who let the dogs out on Instagram?!
I'm not sure what the owners of these dogs do for a living, but they must have professional cameras, a lot of time on their hands, patience and humour. Insta's top doggy accounts have 1,000's of followers and most of them take the time to reply to the endless comments each picture generates. Sounds like a full time job to me! If you're new to Instagram or Insta's prime pooches, then simply follow these accounts to have entertaining four legged pal pictures at your finger tips on a daily basis:

Piggy and Polly are two beyond adorable white French bulldogs that are soo cute, they almost look fake! 
The two frenchies are most frequently snapped snuggling amongst crisp white bedsheets or modelling various collars, hoodies, leashes, sunglasses and bow ties. They're basically the French Bulldog equivalent of Kate Moss really...
If I was Piggy and Polly's owner, I would probably spoil them rotten and take them everywhere with me too! How could you ever say no to these faces?
When they aren't busy catching up on beauty sleep, Piggy and Polly accompany their owners on errands and coffee runs (in Goop-esque picture perfect cafés) while continuing to loyally look ridiculously loveable in their pictures. I call dibs on a pup in their first litter!

As a self confessed passionate pug lover and owner, I couldn't believe my eyes when I first stumbled on the Pugs of Instagram account, which acts as an online resource to showcase pictures of pugs around the world on Insta. Whoever is behind this account, I salute you!
Pugs of Instagram has over 490,850 followers, who like me, regularly check for the latest loveable puggy snaps of the day. If you're looking for some new pug pals to follow on Insta, then you have come to the right place!

One of the first pugs I started following thanks to Pugs of Instagram was the adorable Biscuit the pug, all the way from Sydney, Australia. 
He has a great sense of humour, is undeniably adorable, and I feel like I've virtually watched him slowly grow up from a young pup thanks to Instagram (yes, I know I sound like a total stalker!). Fellow Londoners, if you cannot have a dog, this could be the next best virtual solution!
Follow Biscuit and his friends at the dog park as his mum Daisy tries to keep him out of trouble. He's even currently running an online Insta campaign to help safely return his missing pug pal Molly back to her home. 

Thanks Biscuit for allowing us to share a glimpse into your pug life Down Under. Looks pretty sweet to me! 

Every time I login to Instagram I can't help but check Digby Van Winkle's latest picture for a laugh. Digby and Alo, two Griffons from Wellington, New Zealand are hands down two of the most funny and photogenic dogs to hit the cyber world.
These charmers must have a very large dress up box, as they seem to constantly be wearing different outfits and accessories in their pictures- much to my delight! I don't know how their owner (who also sells really cute doggie bling on Etsy) gets them to pose like this, but whatever their secret is, it's working. Keep up the good work Digby and Alo!

Have you ever heard of a Chiweenie dog before? I hadn't either, until I stumbled upon the Instagram page of Tuna, a Chihuahua and Dachshund mix. 
Once a rescue dog at a farmers market in Los Angeles, Tuna is now an internet sensation with over 912,000 Insta followers and his own clothing line, with a portion of the proceeds going to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Whoever said an overbite and a crumpled chin wasn't adorable didn't know what they were talking about!
Though some might perceive him as being an underdog, Tuna's unconventional cuteness has resulted in an out-pour of cyber love and affection from his fans around the world. As his Insta name suggests, Tuna really is melting hearts! See more about Tuna here.

Another doggy Instagram phenomenon I can't get enough of is Harlow and Sage (and Indiana), two inseparable little and large four legged companions who have the time of their lives being best friends. Harlow the Weimaraner's former best friend Sage sadly died of old age last year, so along came Indiana the Dachshund  = a match made in heaven.
I love watching what Harlow and Indiana do best together on Insta: bringing to life in pictures and videos that it really is a dog's life. 
Their Insta videos are goofy, sweet and absolutely priceless. Did I mention they have a book deal in the works too? For more about Harlow and Indiana, take a peek here.
If you have also fallen in love with a dog on Instagram, or if you are a dog on Instagram that you think I should follow then please let me know. We might be enjoying the dog days of summer, but these poochy Insta accounts are so doggone cute that you'll stayed entertained for months to come - woof!