Food

Google launches Touring Bird – a one-stop shop for tours, activities and experiences

When it comes to planning a trip there are two types of traveller: those who love spending hours and hours researching what to see and do in each destination and those who – quite frankly – find it a faff.

If you fall into the latter camp, check out Touring Bird – a brand new app from Google that collates attractions, activities, tours and local tips (because for many people the best kind of trip is one based on local knowledge) in over 20 destinations.

London bound? Check out my tips for Touring Bird at the link below - and feel free to hit me up for more little known London attractions and quirky corners

https://www.touringbird.com/london/activities/insider_tip/Kaye%20Holland

Touring Bird: London

Take a dip in a London landmark: Brockwell Lido

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When the sun is shining, few things are as appealing as London’s open air swimming pools, with the art deco lidos – built in the first 30 years of the 20th century – of particular interest.
Ask any Londoner for their favourite lido and chances are they’ll answer: Brockwell Lido.
This much-loved local landmark has been at the heart of the local community since 1937 and houses an Olympic size 50-metre outdoor swimming pool, Jacuzzis, and saunas in an Art Deco Grade II listed building. (People flock to this Dulwich Road spot as much to admire the beautiful 1930s art deco design as to actually enter the water).
Feeling hungry after all that swimming? Look to the lovely Lido Cafe which offers freshly ground coffee and a fabulous menu focused on seasonal produce.
 

Get a culture fix at the world's oldest grand music hall: Wilton’s

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Looking for a London culture fix? Leave the West End to the masses and make for Wilton’s Music Hall, a true hidden gem that’s situated down a small pedestrian path called Graces Alley.
The oldest – and arguably most loved – grand music hall in the world, Wilton’s completed a £2.5 million renovation in 2015, while losing none of its rustic charm.
Today the Victorian music hall stages a year round programme of exceptional live music and world-class productions in a Grade 2 Star listed building.
Theatre not your bag? Stop in for a swing dance class, history tour given by passionate heritage experts who work full time at Wilton's raising funds to save one of London’s most beautiful buildings, or perhaps just a drink and bite to eat in one of Wilton’s two bars.

 

Eat your way around SW9: Brixton Village

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Planning on paying Brixton – the birthplace of David Bowie – a visit?
Arrive with an appetite because Brixton's dining scene is among the most dynamic in London thanks largely to Brixton Market. 
This covered arcaded under the railway arches, underwent a renaissance back in 2009 when empty market stalls were leased for free for three months to encourage new restaurateurs.
The result? The original Caribbean stalls (Brixton isn’t known as ‘London’s little Jamaica’ for nothing) have been joined by bakeries, artisan coffee shops, Mexican, Thai spots and even a champagne bar – and half the fun is taking a chance on any place you like the look of.
Standouts include Federation Coffee for brunch and, as its name suggests, a great cup of coffee, Fish, Wings and Tings for a taste of the West Indies and KaoSarn for tasty Thai fare, at prices that won’t break the bank.

Quaff cocktails against a backdrop of St Paul’s Cathedral: Madison, One New Change

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There can’t be many, if any, better rooftop terraces in London than Madison.
Perched on the penthouse spot of One New Change (a stunning glass shopping centre designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Jean Nouvel), this rooftop terrace overlooks the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral and boasts supreme views of the London skyline. 
You can drink in more than the views at the bar and lounge which serves small plates and top notch cocktails. Two to try include the signature Madison Garden (cucumber, Death’s Door vodka, Kamm & Sons, Regal rogue lively white) and the cheekily named Hot bitch martini (sweet vanilla vodka flavours, passion fruit liquor and plenty of prosecco), which is designed to be shared with friends.
There’s also a more formal restaurant serving superb grills and and slow cooked classics.
The rooftop space can be enjoyed year round thanks to Madison’s umbrellas and heaters.

Catch a film at an independent cinema: The Ritzy Cinema

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Whether you’re into arty flicks, subtitled shenanigans or Hollywood blockbusters, there’s a seat in the dark with your name on it at The Ritzy Cinema.
Built in 1910, this Grade 11 listed building shows an eclectic mix of films on its five screens. But this Brixton institution doesn’t just attract filmgoers. Drinkers and foodies flock to its bars and cafe, the latter of which spills onto Windrush Square whose name commemorates the arrival of the Empire Windrush from Jamaica in 1948, and a new era of Caribbean settlement in post-war Britain.
Meanwhile Upstairs at The Ritzy always has something interesting going on from complimentary live music (think blues, jazz and reggae) to dance lessons, club nights, stand up shows and exhibitions.
Bottom line? The Ritzy Cinema is the cornerstone of Brixton’s community.

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Sip in secret: Evans & Peel Detective Agency

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London has fallen hard for the speakeasy trend. Consequently you’ll find speakeasy (the word was first coined in the US during the prohibition era, when the sale of alcohol was generally illegal from 1920 to 1933) bars across the capital but the most hidden is Evans & Peel Detective Agency.
Located on the cusp of zone two but less than a five minute stumble from Earls Court tube station – the first London station to install escalators in 1911 – this is where Londoners head when they want to pretend it’s Prohibition time in the 1920s.
However in order to enter the bar that’s disguised as a detective agency, you'll have to convince the person in the ‘office’ that your case is worth investigating. Pull that off and you’ll be rewarded with a brilliant cocktail bar: the Old Fashioneds are a particular highlight.

Fall for football: Wembley Stadium

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Football. You can’t escape it, especially in London which must have more clubs than any city in the world. 
However the one trip that every true football fan must make is to Wembley. This 90,000 capacity stadium, is renowned around the world for its iconic, 134m high arch that towers over the North stand, and has hosted some of football’s biggest spectacles: think England’s glorious World Cup victory in 1966, Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona’s stunning UEFA Champions League triumphs or the historic ongoing tradition of The FA Cup Final.
The excellent 75 minute Wembley Stadium tour takes you behind-the-scenes of what footballing legend, Pele, once called “the cathedral of football, the capital of football and the heart of football”.
Expect to see inside the dressing rooms, press room and players’ tunnel, and be taken pitch-side before climbing upto the iconic Royal Box to have your photograph taken with a replica of the world-famous FA Cup.
All told if you're a football fan, you won't regret making a pilgrimage to the beautiful game's spiritual home (that's as famous as the players it welcomes), unless you forget your smartphone.

Drink like Winston Churchill: Effra Social

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Situated on the site of a former local Conservative club, the Effra Social (not to be confused with the nearby Effra Hall Tavern), now appeals to a different party faithful. 
It’s out with politics and in with DJs and bands, one of Brixton’s best Quiz nights, book clubs, cinema clubs, comedy and poetry – all of which fill this Effra Road hot spot each week.
Yet while the Brixton boozer is no longer tied to its political past, its walls are still painted Tory blue and lined with memorabilia: think portraits of prominent local party members, club posters and old correspondence.
Fans of Churchill won’t want to miss the carefully restored Churchill Lounge, with its flock wallpaper, fireplace and own bar, where Britain’s wartime leader used to enjoy a tipple or two.
effrasocial.com/bookings

View my London tips for Touring Bird at: touringbird.com/london/activities/insider_tip/Kaye%20Holland

10 things to taste in Moscow



The top Russian foods you have to try

Beef Stroganoff
Supposedly named after count Alexander Grigorievich Stroganoff, this Russian dish dates from the mid 19th century and consists of sautéed pieces of beef served in a sauce with smetana (sour cream).

Blini
Blini are Russia's version of the thin French crêpe and a staple on most Moscovian menus, typically made with buckwheat for savoury fillings or white flour for sweet toppings. Accompaniments can include smoked salmon and sour cream but for the ultimate indulgence opt for red black sturgeon caviar.

Borscht
This beet and cabbage soup is served with or without meat, potato, herbs (usually dill) and a dollop of smetana (Russian sour cream) and is sure to warm you up during a Moscow winter.  A staple of Russian cuisine, it would criminal to leave Moscow without sampling this soup at least once.

Caviar
Muscovites go crazy for Caviar (or ikra as it is also known) which is offers served on dark, crusty bread or with blini. Caviar can be red (obtained from salmon fishes) or black (obtained from sturgeon fishes). Black caviar, the roe of the female sturgeon fish, is one of the world's most prized and expensive food items.

Medovik
Medovik is Russia's popular honey cake: super sweet, rich in taste and with an interesting story about its historical origins. Legend has it that the first medovik honey cake was created in the 1820s by a personal chef for Empress Elizabeth, the wife of Tzar Alexander I. Try it and you’ll soon see why the Empress was mad about Medovik.

Mushroom Julienne
With a similar taste to stroganoff, but without meat, this creamy mushroom dish is found on almost every menu as a hot appetiser. It’s made with thinly sliced mushrooms, cheese, sour cream and cream and broiled/grilled for a crusty top before being, served in a dainty metal dish. 

Olivier Salad
Known as Russian salad around the world, Olivier is a variation of potato salad invented in the 1860s by Lucien Olivier, a Belgian chef plying his trade at a popular Moscow restaurant. The ultimate comfort food, the Olivier features boiled potatoes, carrots, eggs, peas, pickles, and boiled chicken or beef.

Pelmeni
What makes Russian dumplings (pelmeni) so special? That would be the tasty herbs that are added to the meat packed pastry.  Pelmeni can be served several ways: alone, slathered in butter, topped with sour cream, or served in a broth.

Solyanka soup
A hearty soup made from thick chunks of beef and/or pork, cooked for hours over a low flame with garlic, tomatoes, peppers and carrots.

Tula Gingerbread
Tula Gingerbread is a very Russian take on the classic gingerbread recipe. Expect spicy gingerbread made from honey and filled with jam or condensed milk. It is customary to imprint the bread with intricate designs and engravings.

Little Black Book to London: part two

“Cool never stays in one place for long. By its very nature, it’s always looking for the next place to hang out, to drink, to try not to dance too zealously to the freshest tunes.”

So scribbled journalist Clive Martin.

Martin wasn’t wide of the mark.

Here’s our guide to the capital’s coolest new spots and events for spring/summer 2018…


Smoky cocktails at The Royal Exchange

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Smoked flavours are having a moment in cocktail culture and the trend has found it’s way to The Royal Exchange – one of London’s most iconic buildings – at Threadneedle Bar.
The new menu offers smokiness to cocktail aficionados in two ways: through intrinsically smoky ingredients such as whisky and mezcal which feature prominently throughout the menu, and by infusing key serves with wood smoke for a robust flavour and unique immersive experience.
Each cocktail boasts its own distinct personality and has been carefully crafted for depth of character and complexity.
Choose from the Smoky Mandarin (Black Label whisky, Mandarin Napoleon liqueur, Talisker 10yo, cinnamon sugar), Mexican Negroni (Mezcal, Campari, Martini Rosso), The White Lord (Tanqueray Gin, Suze, Martini Bianco), The Lumberjack (Woodford Reserve infused with bacon, maple syrup, orange and angostura bitters) or JAT favourite The Art of Rum (Ron Zacapa 23yo, cherry liqueur, banana syrup, orange bitters).
All cocktails on the smoky menu are priced at £12.00 and available until the end of 2018. Smokin!
https://www.royalexchange-grandcafe.co.uk/at/lounge-bank/


Mad Lab at Madison
Shake, rattle and stir your way to killer cocktails with Madison’ s MadLab sessions.
Don a lab coat and learn three cocktail techniques – carbonation, infusion and foam.

Foam
Learn how to make a foam with the help of a blender and vegan emulsifying/stabiliser agent using a nitrous oxide cartridge – and then how to integrate the foam into a cocktail.

Infusion
Make an instant infusion with a cream whipper and a nitrous oxide cartridge. You’ll then create a cocktail with the infused spirit and learn how to use a torch to caramelise the garnish.

Carbonation
Master a carbonated cocktail with a cream whipper and CO2 cartridge, before using the torch to scorch the garnish.

You’ll get the chance to create molecular twists on three Absolut Elyx vodka based cocktails, with the finished serves yours to enjoy while drinking in the views of the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral from the top of the Jean Nouvel designed One New Change complex. Chin chin.
https://www.madisonlondon.net/menus/restaurant/madlab/


Grease is the word

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Pink Ladies get ready! To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Grease, TV streaming service NOW TV is creating a slumber party pop-up experience.
On 10 and 11 May only, fans will be able to visit an exact replica of Frenchy’s bedroom: expect patterned pink wallpaper, plush carpets and satin-fringed curtains, Rydell High flags and even a giant panda toy poised to paw Rizzo’s silky drawers.
Slumber party guests will be able to take their pick from a Grease inspired prop box, bursting at the seams with rollers, hair nets, jackets and much more, to transform themselves into a Pink Lady and step back to the fifties – all they’ll need to do is battle it out for the role of Sandy and Rizzo
Food and drink straight out of the fifties will be available as guests get comfy on Frenchy’s patchwork bedspread and settle down to watch the iconic film.
Even better? Fans can enter the Eventbrite ballot for the chance to win free tickets to one of the seven sessions  (day and evening times) available, here


Bluebird flies into White City

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The celebrated Chelsea restaurant and café has spread its wings and opened its doors at one of London’s hottest venues: take a bow Television Centre White City.
Opening out onto a piazza overlooked by the Television Centre’s famous circular core, Bluebird Café White City is at the heart of the £8 billion regeneration that has opened this iconic location to residents, diners and revellers for the first time in its history.
Bluebird’s new sister encompasses a café, bar and spacious all-year-round terrace spread out over 5000-square-foot space serving a modern European menu: think Nduja crusted yellow fin tuna with grilled onion and green sauce, Butter chicken curry with basmati rice and burnt chilli and Spiced King prawns with yoghurt and pistachio.
The interior has been designed by David d’Almada’s Sagrada and incorporates a mix of British styling from the 1960s and modern Bluebird Chelsea glamour, while the artwork has been sourced by Fraser Scott and features works by young British artists as well as designs inspired by Bridget Riley and Celia Birtwell.
www.bluebirdcafe.co.uk.


The sky’s the limit at Jin Bo Law Skybar

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London has a new rooftop bar: here’s looking at Jin Bo Law.
Located on the 14th floor of the new Dorsett City hotel, Jin Bo Law offers panoramic views taking in key sights of the London skyline such as the Walkie-Talkie, the Gherkin, and the Shard, alongside quintessentially London landmarks including Tower Bridge and the Thames – as well  an innovative Asian-inspired menu.
Tipple to try include Pickled Think (Japanese spirit Shochu, pickled ginger and Japanese raspberries), Spice to Meet You(Chinese flavours, featuring gin and quince alongside fragrant five spice and Acacia honey) and Nikka-Bocker Glory – a unique play on traditional Vietnamese coffee, with its sweetened condensed milk and Japanese whisky, served like a milkshake.
www.jinbolaw.co.uk

View the post here: http://www.justabouttravel.net/2018/04/17/little-black-book-to-london-part-two/

Little Black Book to London 2018

Londoners don’t know how to stay in - and why should we? In a city where every evening brings another pop up bar or bijoux bakery, there’s simply far too much fun to be wrung out of the city.
Here’s our guide to the capital’s coolest new spots

 

Kettner's
Iconic London venue Kettner's has flung open its doors following a two year refurbishment by The Soho House Group and early reviews are glowingly good.
Kettner's - whose high profile past guests include Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde - now houses a champagne bar (that’s open until 2am) and a restaurant serving French comfort fare. Expect a Vol-au-vent of kidneys, sweetbreads, black truffle and vegetables, Omelette with smoked eek and hollandaise and Poulet de Bresse au foin (chicken cooked in hay) - all washed down with Ruinart.
If you’ve overdone the drinking, wander upstairs to the 33 bedrooms which boast William Morris wallpaper, twenties chandeliers and velvet fringed armchairs.
Kettners Townhouse, 29 Romily Street, London, W1D 5HP (http://kettnerstownhouse.com/)


Dominique Ansel

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Cafes and coffee shops abound all over the capital but the buzz right now is  about Dominique Ansel - the first London branch of the famous New York bakery.
On arrival, chances are you’ll be dazzled by the display of Cronuts ®  - a croissant-doughnut hybrid created and cannily trademarked by Monsieur Ansel. We doubt there’s a single food group in them but even girls who survive on a diet of spirulina and soups, have been known to go loopy over one of the most talked about sweet treats in history.
Once you’ve managed to drag yourself away from the cake counter, sink into plush banquette seating and wait for your goodies to arrive. In addition to the celebrated Cronuts, there’s the ‘DKA’, a caramelised deep-fried croissant and Dosa Mille Feuille - Puff pastry dosa shell, hazelnut coffee, whipped chantilly, lemon curd and candied lemon peel - to get stuck into, as well as a good selection of sandwiches and soups (we can vouch for the Avocado toast and Creamy roasted pumpkin & Yorkshire soup).
Cappuccino (£3) and a Cronut (£4.80) here can be a pricey experience, but it is special and staff are charming.
21 Elizabeth Street, London, SW1W 9RP (http://dominiqueansellondon.com/)


The Blues Post

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The folks behind Barbary London and The Palomar have opened The Blue Posts - a three storey food and drink emporium over on Rupert Street.
The ground floor is given over to a pub boasting a menu of independently brewed cask ales, craft beers & ciders including Mondo Brewing’s flavourful Denis Hopp’r, Sussex SeaCider, and  ‘World’s Best Pale Ale’ winner Sambrook’s Wandle.
More of an oenophile? Head upstairs to The Mulwray - a stylish cocktail lounge (expect a marble-clad bar and comfy velvet seats) where the drink to order is Forget It Jake, aka a Margarita with a twist.
Last but not least there’s Evelyn Table - a teensy, tiny 11-seater restaurant, led by The Barbary’s head chef Nacho Pinilla specialising in Modern European plates that all scream for attention.
Encompassing all things under one roof, this quirky, unconventional place shows what it’s possible to do with an old Boozer. Someone has done their homework here and it definitely shows.
28 Rupert Street, W1D 6DJ (http://theblueposts.co.uk/)


Hoppers
 

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If you have ever visited Sri Lanka and want to recapture that feeling, head here.
The Sethis, who are basically Midases of the restaurant world having brought us Gymkhana, Bubbledogs and Bao to name but a few, have opened a second branch of Hoppers - their acclaimed Sri Lankan restaurant.  Happily however for those who are averse to queing for hours on end, the new outpost is bookable.
Hoppers 2.0 is spread over two floors, with an extra 16 seats outside and a private dining area split into four private dining ‘vaults’.
The menu features signature Hoppers dishes from the original site in Soho - read String hoppers ( a bowl shaped breakfast dish made from fermented rice and coconut batter and filled with curry) and hearty mix of rice and curries, as well as new dishes such as Jaffna beef rib fry and Tuna and tapioca cutlets with avocado sambol.
Finish with a sensational watalapam - spiced ‘set’ coconut custard that’s addiction on a plate. If you’re in St Christopher’s Place this is a culinary must.
77 Wigmore Street, W1U 1 QE (ww.hopperslondon.com)


Jack Solomons
There’s a new speakeasy bar in town: take a bow Jack Solomans which opened at the end of 2017, on Soho’s Great Windmill Street.
Inspired by the legacy of Jack Solomons, an iconic Soho character whose boxing gym was located here throughout the 1940s and 50s, Jack Solomons Club epitomise a bygone era of London clubs: look out for the pewter-metal bar counters, shaded velvet furnishings and red leather walls.
Entry is via a hidden door accessed via an after-hours street-side deli, that brings you to the bar area where a live band play. Descending the stairs you’ll pass a glass wall peering into the neighbouring kitchen’s butchery chamber before reaching the basement - home to a subterranean speakeasy cocktail club to one side, and dance floor to the other.
Even better? Entrance to this pleasure pit is absolutely free, all of which means that a night out in Soho doesn’t necessarily equal financial destitution.
41 Great Windmill Street, W1D 7NB (www.jacksolomons.com)

View the post at: http://www.justabouttravel.net/2018/01/25/little-black-book-to-london-2018/