Friday, March 1, 2013

WINTOUR&GUINNESS ON LONDON LIVING, SPICING UP OUR LIVES AND EATING OUR WAY AROUND THE CITY, PART ONE

London is truly amazing. I love visiting the city whenever I get the chance and I have very fond memories of my time living there back in 2008. I moved there straight after graduating from college, moving there with nothing but my degree and well to cut a very long story short, my love affair with London didnt last very long and after a year I was back living in Ireland around my family and friends and working within one of Irelands top magazines, Social & Personal.
 
Its a vast city made up of hundreds and hundreds of suburbs and finding the right area to live and socialise takes alot of time and effort and back then, being so naive and so sure of who I thought I was, I ignored so much of the city focusing on the glitzy areas of Knightbridge, Kensington and Chelsea. Those were the areas I would wonder through on my days off, looking into the windows of all the grand designer stores along Sloane Street or the Kings Road wishing that I could win the lottery. That never happened and the harsh reality of London, is that one really cannot live the beautiful life of London on a terrible salary working in publishing.
 
 
Moving back to Ireland in 2009, I tried my best to visit London as much as I could. Weekend trips throughout the summer were plentiful as well as trips around NYE and what was so great about those trips were the opportunities to visit the places that I loved or dreamed about going. Whether it was a trip to The Wolseley or Brown's Hotel, we went, we dined and we enjoyed those little treats, because we could.
 
Over the recent Christmas period, I travelled home to Ireland and was met on Christmas morning with a lovely gift of a trip to London for two days. It was a flying trip so to speak and because of that I decided to write a list of the places I had been reading about, the places that I has been dreaming about and the places that brought back so many good memories from my time living there. Here's the list of the list of places I squeezed into my trip.
 Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a huge fan of blogger Sasha Wilkins aka Liberty London Girl and I love nothing more than reading about her trips to the newest and greatest places to wine and dine in London. Sasha was amazing during my trip to London as she tweeted me a few times with lots of recommendations on where to go out. I only had the one night in London to go out so it was crucial we got it right. Sasha recommended Spuntino on Rupert Street, but made sure to warn us that this place gets very busy around 7ish and long queues do form quickly. We arrived around 6ish as we had tickets to see the theatre production Viva Forever. Vivia Forever is the stage production written and produced by Jennifer Saunders and Judy Craymer based on the songs of the Spice Girls.

 
Trying to find Spuntino was a task in itself, I cannot tell you how many times we walked up and down Rupert Street looking for it until I walked over towards an empty dark window and noticed a little sign on the window. I seriously needed Google Maps that night. Walking into Spuntino, I instantly loved the set up. There were no tables, however seating was wrapped around the U shaped bar, something I love very much as you are then able to check out all the action behind the bar.
 
 
Walking into the place, you were met with the smell of freshly cooked popcorn and once drinks and food were ordered a miniature steel bucket of popcorn was dropped at our spot. Taking Sasha's advice we ordered the mac & cheese, pulled port sliders, prawn sliders, wild mushroom and tallegio pizzetta and deep fried olives. Each dish for me was good but not great. That was until the mac & cheese arrived. Never have I ever tasted anything so delicious. The pasta had great bite, was lusciously covered in a smooth rich cheesey sauce and was topped with toasted breadcrumbs. It was for me the best dish that entire London trip and I could eat it everyday if I had the chance.
 
Following our trip to Spuntino, we made a quick dash to Piccadilly Theatre just off Regents Street to catch the evening show of Viva Forever. The show has been a huge success and just got extended to February 2014 I believe and it doesn't surprise me as it was a night full of nostaglia and brought a smile to the faces of everyone I could see in the audience.
 
Breakfast and Brunch are two of my favorite meals of the day and living in Melbourne there are no shortage of cafes or restaurants to visit. London is somewhat catching up on this, as is Ireland and as soon as we had checked into our hotel, we jumped on the tube and made our way to Knightsbridge to hit the Fifth Floor Restaurant at Harvey Nichols. Its somewhere I never got a chance to visit during my time living in London, but this time I just had to try it. We made or way up to the top of the store, towards the restaurant and were instantly lead to a delightful table near the outside terrace (which looked absolutely amazing) and we quickly ordered our coffees. My cappacino was exactly how I like it; hot, creamy and strong. I decided to order the eggs Benedict while Kevin ordered the smoked salmon. Being Harvey Nichols, I wasn't too surprised by the tiny portions and high prices but I must say it was delicious nonetheless. Ordering another coffee after our meal we grabbed as much energy as we could sitting there as we knew what lay ahead walking around Harvey Nicks and Harrods.
 




After spending a few hours in Harvey Nichols and Harrods, we left Knightsbridge and made our way down Sloane Street towards Chelsea and the Kings Road. Making your way along Sloane Street you are met with stores from every possible luxury designer you can think of. Fendi, Jimmy Choo, Dolce & Gabanna and the upcoming Tom Ford store are just a few to be found and walking along Sloane Street, its hard not to feel as if you are an extra from an episode of Made In Chelsea. When we got to the Kings Road, or the KR as the local hipsters call it we decided to hit Paul's for another coffee. Paul's is one our favourite cafes in London and can be found dotted around the city. Fond memories of hitting the Holland Park branch were had as I looked around at all the different cakes and breads on offer. It was pretty chilly on that January morning and making our way down the street we stopped for a potter in and around the Bluebird building. Comprising of the Bluebird Cafe, Restaurant, Food Store and Shop, this place really is ubiquitous when speaking about Chelsea life.
 


 The bluebird is a Chelsea institution, I have eaten in the cafe before and yes its quites nice but the real attraction at Bluebird is the store. The Shop At Bluebird features men's, women's clothing and accessories, interiors and beauty products to name but a few of its offerings and its definetly somewhere I would recommend hitting when in Chelsea.

 


For more information on Viva Forever, The Shop At Bluebird and Spuntino check out www.vivaforeverthemusical.com , www.spuntino.co.uk and www.theshopatbluebird.com






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