England

Where to stay in London: Charing Cross

0

_DSC2773

Being a tourist in my own city is something that I really love to do. The chance to stay out late exploring it, without worrying about the Tube or how to get home is very nice. Nobody really drives in Central London and people from abroad often don’t get how it is even possible to go on a night out, without using a car. :)
A few weeks ago I was so lucky to be given exactly that sort of experience, when I was invited to spend a night at Amba Hotels’ Charing Cross branch.

_DSC2752

We arrived at Amba Hotel before 7pm and we were welcomed by a friendly team and 2 glasses of Prosecco, such a great start of the weekend isn’t it?!

The hotel is housed in a beautiful, grade II-listed building, but despite the historical setting, it offers modern services and rooms.

After the check-in I spent an hour in the Junior suite which has an amazing view on the Charing Cross neighbourhood, taking photos of and enjoying some more Prosecco, courtesy of the amazing Amba team. Can you spot, in the opening photo, St. Martin-in-the-Fields and the National Gallery?

_DSC2758_DSC2819

We then went for dinner at The Terrace, the in-house dining venue with a spectacular view of the Strand below, where we tried a typical English meal: I went for a pan-fried sea bass and lemon meringue tart, whereas Giuliano chose a buccleuch sirloin steak followed by a warm chocolate fondant.

_DSC2783

_DSC2785

_DSC2787

_DSC2796

_DSC2800
The next morning I spent about an hour in the Hotel gym, just to feel less guilty about the gigantic breakfast I had, which was one of my favourite parts of this brief “staycation”. Let me tell you more about it!

_DSC2803

_DSC2805

 

It’s served at The Terrace and to be honest I couldn’t find anything that I was craving for and wasn’t available: fresh fruits, lots of cereals, sausages, soy milk, veggies and a great selection of pastries…

_DSC2824

_DSC2828

_DSC2833

_DSC2837

_DSC2841

_DSC2842

_DSC2846

_DSC2848

_DSC2851

 

Address: The Strand, London WC2N 5HX

Top treat: the staff, very friendly and helpful (both with us and the tourists) and the breakfast, highly recommended!

Cost: Room – Studio suite with breakfast from £372. Dinner based on our choices around £60 for 2 people.

The wow factor: The location! The hotel has an incredibly central position, right above the Tube and the Train Station, which is incredible considering how quiet the rom was.

WiFi: WiFi is complimentary and apparently the hotel has the fastest WiFi in the world.

Amenities in the room: Smart TVs, USB sockets by the bed, magazines, Nespresso coffee machine, free of charge minibar and iPad in each room. You don’t get all of that very often…

 

_DSC2862

_DSC2863

_DSC2817

I would definitely recommend the Hotel for both its central location and the services. Let me know your thoughts if you happen to visit it!

Disclaimer: we were guests of Amba Hotels, but hopefully you’ll trust this post is about my honest opinion. For more information about the hotel visit the official website.

_DSC2872

Gigi’s Mayfair – Review

0

_DSC2706

English Version only

Last weekend we visited Gigi’s, a new Mayfair restaurant, for a late lunch.

The restaurant is tucked away in a quiet corner just off Bond Street station, it serves Italian food with a modern twist under the direction of Head Chef Ivan Simeoli. Ivan is a world class Chef that worked with some of the best like Massimo Bottura at the Osteria Francescana in Modena, just to name one. Since last December you can enjoy Ivan’s cooking at Gigi’s.

_DSC2750  _DSC2730

_DSC2746

_DSC2744  _DSC2702   _DSC2701
_DSC2745

_DSC2703

We were welcomed at our table with a bread basket, salt baked root vegetables and 2 glasses of Pinot Gris, then we went straight for the à la carte winter menu. This is what we had:

_DSC2715

Starters

  • 62 degree egg with girolles, green tomatoes and crispy Parma ham
  • Roasted octopus with borlotti beans and flamed onion broth

_DSC2710

_DSC2714

The first dish is a clever tribute to the traditional English breakfast. The egg, cooked at 62 degrees for an hour, remains soft and melts on the girolles, its delicate flavour joined pleasantly by the salty sweetness of the Parma ham.

The octopus is stunning, butter tender, it conveys the broth and the beans. You are reminded of an earthy meal cooked on an open fire, the flavours are bold without being heavy. We were expecting something not too far from the classic Italian octopus recipes, and were surprised.

Pasta

  • Ravioli with Amalfi lemon and buffalo ricotta
  • Flamed leeks tortelli with vegetable charcoal – from the vegetarian menu

The Ravioli is one of Ivan’s signature dishes. It may sound like a cliché, but the delicate lemon flavour gave me an instant flashback of a Vespa ride I had years ago, while on holiday near Sorrento. If Ivan wanted us to experience some sensory memories of his childhood, he definitely succeeded.

_DSC2721

_DSC2719

Main

  • South coast turbot with savoy cabbage, charcoal oil and sorrel
  • Salt marsh lamb with heritage carrots, sheep’s milk and crunchy shallots

Salt marsh lambs graze on pastures that are regularly covered by the sea, eating grasses that confer a light saline flavour to the meat. The dish itself is delicious, without that sometimes overpowering character of lamb. Gigi’s source their lambs locally, which is always commendable.

_DSC2723

_DSC2725

Dessert

  • Gigi’s signature tiramisu
  • Chocolate Mondrian, a tribute to the Dutch painter

_DSC2741

_DSC2737

I believe the photos speak for themselves. :-)

In addition to the great food, Gigi’s has a large selection of wines and cocktails and there’s a live DJ at night, from Thursday to Saturday.

Having lunch at Gigi’s has been a great experience for us. We were surprised multiple times and had fun trying to trace our Italian culinary roots very well disguised in a world class and modern menu. It’s also worth mentioning that none of the dishes felt pretentious or overdone. Chef Ivan experience and technique is apparent, but always put to the service of his cooking.

Top treat: for Sonia was the ravioli, for Giuliano the octopus.
Address: 22 Woodstock St, London W1C 2AR www.gigismayfair.com
Cost: based on our choices above around £60 per person
The wow factor: the central location, the dessert presentation and the design books available around the restaurant.

Disclaimer: we were guests of Gigi’s, but hopefully you’ll trust this post is about an honestly enjoyable afternoon.

_DSC2749

 

Christmas in London – photo post

0

 

10852801_893470084026335_607596562_n

English Post only.

London looks beautiful any day of the year, but during Christmas I am obsessed about taking pictures of her (because London is a cool girl, right?! :)). It’s hard not to be.

Here are some photos I’ve recently taken that I wanted to share with you. The magic atmosphere of Christmas, I hope you can feel it!

deli2

door2_web

door_web

10838761_1526075377641264_1759501298_n

fairy

photo 5(3)

photo 4(3)

photo 2(2)

photo 1(3)

10817659_1567389406827663_1913972739_n

10818126_706274929468213_1514468925_n

 

Restaurant Review: Locale Fulham

0

_DSC2431

English Version only.

A few weeks ago I’ve been invited to try an Italian restaurant in Fulham. Usually I tend to avoid Italian restaurants because… well, because I am Italian and quite fussy about Italian food.

The restaurant has a nice outside dehors and a cosy bar where you can order a cocktail with some “stuzzichini”, small dishes which, back home, are usually served with drinks.

We ordered a Locale Bellini, made with Prosecco and strawberry liqueur, think of a meeting between the classic Bellini and a Kir Royal.

_DSC2432  _DSC2436

_DSC2433

We than had a selection of starters: fried calamari served with homemade tartar sauce, some veggie bruschettas, deep fried soft shell crab cakes with saffron and dill mayo and pan fried scallops with mashed peas, rocket and crispy pancetta.

_DSC2437

_DSC2438

_DSC2439

_DSC2447

_DSC2445

Almost full already, we went on to the mains: Giuliano had seafood linguine with clams, mussels, calamari and octopus sautéed with garlic, chilli and parsley. I chose casarecce with tiger prawns. Both were served with a glass of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore from Cantina Colognola.

 

_DSC2454

_DSC2449

After making sure that they’re “homemade just like in Italy”, we had to try desserts. We chose pannacotta and tiramisu, the latter being the best choice, it indeed is amazing. A glass of brandy on the side, provided a classy way to end a lovely meal. :-)

_DSC2459

_DSC2462

_DSC2460

Personal favourite: the tiramisu! Trust me, I have tried many tiramisu, and this is the only one that I am sure my uncle Roberto (the King of Tiramisu) would be proud of. :-)

Only slightly negative point is the location, to reach Locale you have to walk for about 15 minutes from the nearest tube station. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After a meal like that, a nice walk was just what we needed.

 

_DSC2456

_DSC2463

Locale Fulham

Address: 222 Munster Road, London, SW6 6AY

Tentazioni Restaurant and ode to Ravioli

2

fettuccine

English Version only

tentazioni

A few weeks ago I have been invited to try the Christmas menu of Tentazioni.
The restaurant is located in 2 Mill Street, on the south bank of the Thames, 10 minutes walk from Bermondsey tube station, in a very nice road that is reminiscent of the times when this part of London was used as the docks.

venison

In a very cosy room at the first floor of the restaurant, where we were welcomed with a glass of Prosecco, we tried some of the dishes from the set menu.

My favourite, actually everyone’s favourite, was the roasted pumpkin ravioli served with butter and sage, a fantastic example of Italian stuffed pasta that reminds me of my childhood, where I spent every Sunday in the kitchen with my grandmother, watching her rolling the dough onto a floured surface and then prepare hundreds of ravioli for the Sunday lunch.

I have asked Tentazioni’s Chef Alberto Modena if he can share his recipe with the blog, let’s see if I can have an early Christmas present. :)

riso

2014 CHRISTMAS SET MENU (to see the complete menu, click here)
Two Courses £25.00
Three Courses £32.00

 

Tentazioni Restaurant
Address: 2 Mill St, London SE1 2BD
Phone:020 7237 1100

tiramisu

Torna su