What´s a better decision than travelling to London unexpectedly on your days off? Hm, piece of cake, maybe. But, this trip to London I went to a few days ago, that was something amazing.
I´ve been to London twice before, doing things every visitor does. Walking around the city in an effort to not get smashed by people, taking pictures of beautiful Mrs. Big Ben, walking towards The Buckingham Palace via Princess Diana Memorial Walk, being stunned by the size of the well-known London Eye, getting into one of the red phone boxex and pretending to make a phone call. You know, ordinary things you´d do in London.
But this time, I wanted to experience something different. I wanted to feel the real taste of London. So, after 5 hour ride from Plymouth to London, we went to Soho. Soho is, I believe, the place where people live and dream in this city. It is place, where the best restaurants are, where young people meet to celebrate life, where the best food is given to you,a place where the smallest and most cozy cafeterias with the biggest souls are. And, let me tell you, I could move there, I could spend hours and hours walking around this part of London and popping into every place that is there, places filled with good people and the smell of freshly brewed coffee.
And yes. I know, what you think. London is stuffed, London is full of foreigners..and you are right. You are lucky if you meet some natives ´British´. But, with its soul, it´s the same and amazing London everybody dreams of living in. City of dreams, city full of opportunities, city that never sleeps. (I know that the real city thata never sleeps is New York in the USA, but this is our kind-of-new-york-city in Europe. So, go there at least once, you will not want to leave.
I´ll give you a list of places you should go to when going to Soho (and being totally hungry!).So, these are the highlights:
If you love hummus..I mean, a real hummus, which smells of tahini – the real deal- you should pop into the Hummus Brothers. I´ve never seen something like this. The place is packed around lunch time and what they give you is amazingly delicious. They hand you a bowl where the base is made by their hummus and then the topping is up to you. You can get anything from falafels, guacamole, greek salad to meatballs, tomato salsa, jalapenos, dried tomatoes..Plus, you get a nicely warmed (wholemeal) pitta bread to go with it. Or, You can tell them to wrap it all up for you in a tortilla.. I´m telling you, I felt like I was in a Hummus heaven. Really, really yummy.
If you love Italian cuisine (is there anybody in the world who doesn´t love italian food?!), there is this amazing place called Fratelli La Bufala. Ran by native Italians, the momemnt you walk in, you feel as if you were walking through the streets of Naples. The utterly delicious smell of freshly baked pizza, tomato pasta, fresh basil and thyme – you name it, they have it. I´ve been told to go there by this Italian girl who lives in London. She told me one thing : ´When I miss Italy and our great pizza, I go to Fratelli La Bufala.´ I´ve had salad with the best pesto on top and my boy´s pizza? No words required. The pizza dough was light, thin and with the toppings he had on it, it made me realise there are not many places in the world, where you´d fall in love with Italian food as much as here. Oh, and did I mention that when we were here, this place was packed with people inside out? There were people waiting to be seated outside the restaurant, it was just so busy in there. Since the waiter took our order, it took them exactly 7 minutes until we got our delicious meals. Seriously, we´ve been impressed. Oh, and if you know italian language, it´s a great place for you to practice it! :)
Also, around lunch time, there are this big vans parked in the market place, where you can get fresh salads, kebab, burgers and also freshly squeezed juices and smoothies.
As I mentioned, there are plenty of cafeterias. You can go to Cafe Nero, Starbucks and all this chains you probably heard of.But, if you want to try something new, you should go to Nordic Bakery, where you´ll be served by Finish girls, who are more than happy to recommend something traditional from the north to you. Deliciously filling dark rye bread with brie and lingonberries, cardamom buns with lingonberry jam on top, fat pancake, cinnamon buns, blueberry tray bakes and really nice cup of coffee. With simple food, blue-painted walls, great coffee and traditional nordic food, I felt like I was in the north.
Oh, do you know Leon? The Fresh Fast Food where they serve freshly made salads, soups, tortillas and amazing healthy dishes? No? Well, these humble restaurants with healthy and delicious food and vintage appearance might be the place for you if you want to get back in time and feel like you were in some movies from 70´s. Retro pictures hanging on walls made with black and white tiles, leather sofas, old colorful tables. Freshly prepared food, which looks great and tastes even better for a little money.
Because my boy is passionate about bartending, we went to couple of cocktail bars as well. Like the one in Savoy hotel, which won the award for the best cocktail bar in the world with the best bartender in the world, Erik Lorincz (who comes from Slovakia, you folks!). Outstanding service, amazing cocktails and very elegant style of the bar makes you feeling like you were a billionaire in some kind of movie, where they show scene of you, well dressed, snacking on olives and looking out of the window to adore the view of London skyline. So, if you want to get the best of the best, and if you want to feel like a movie star where all the attention is paid to you, go to Savoy. All right? :)
We also went to a very modern bar, called the Artesian who won tons of awards and is one of the best bars in the world as well. This bar is filled with excitement, when looking at the bartenders you feel like you are part of some magic show. You leave the bar very impressed by the possibilities of cocktails in this world.
Another bar on my boy´s list – The Blind Pig. It´s such a creative way how to get to the bar – You have to ring on the bell, which is next to a door where a head of a blind pig is hanging from. It doesn´t even say that´s a bar, there is only a little sign that says ´optician´. (this bars are so called ´The Speakeasy´ bars, born in the prohibition times). We were lucky enought to sit at the bar and watch the bartenders putting soul into every drink they make. It´s amazing with how much soul and paasion they put into every drink – watching them was like one of the best shows I´ve ever seen. Oh, and the way they style their drinks? Ubelievably amazing! If you every go to a bar like this one, you understand what´s so special about bartending and delicious cocktails.
So, full of food inspirations, I will keep creating recipes. Recipes for you from me, where I put all my soul and all my passion. Because where you invest your heart, that´s where you invest your life.
Today, be pampered by this irresistible Chocolate and Macaroon Tart.
Chocolate and Macaroon Tart
For the tarts:
1 1/2 cup dessicated coconut (unsweetened)
2 happy egg whites
1-2 tbls sweetener of your choice (honey, maple syrup..) or artenatively use stevia
For the chocolate mousse filling:
1 chilled avocado (I know it´s weird to use avocado in a chocolate mousse, but trust me)
1 frozen ripe banana (cut into pieces)
4 tbls good quality cacao
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbls cold water
pinch of sea salt
2 tsp good quality raw honey (optional)
couple of frozen berries (raspberries and blueberries work the best)
1 tsp coconut flour (instead of refined icing sugar)
First, make your macaroon tart cases. Mix together egg whites, coconut and sweetener of your choice. Grease your baking tins, press the mixture evenly into tarts and bake in the preheated oven, at 120°C for about 20 minutes (until golden and crispy – tap slightly on the bottom of the tart to check if they are crispy). Allow to cool.
To make your filling, put everything except honey into a bowl and blend. Taste (don´t eat it all, even though it´s addictive and super yummy and smooth) and adjust the sweetener. If it´s too thick, you can add a bit more of cold water until desired consistency.
Finally, spoon your chocolate mousse mixture into macaroon tart cases.
In a little bowl, coat your berries with coconut flour and arrange on top of your chocolate tarts. Sprinkle with a bit more coconut flour if you´re feeling fancy and enjoy immediately.
ps. They won´t last long, because these beauties really are delicious.