Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Ping Pong at BOUNCE Shoreditch.

I effing love ping pong, we even have a table tennis table at home. As kids the highlight of any holiday was my brother and I playing table tennis together - we play it like normal tennis, so it's super fun (for us, not for anyone around us). I first went to BOUNCE in Holborn last year with work, and had the best time, so I was pretty excited to go check out the new BOUNCE ping pong in Shoreditch.

As many of you know I only go to Shoreditch for one reason; food. So it was kind of a big thing for me to go, and my boss was super impressed with me, especially as this was the very first time I've ever been to Shoreditch and not cried/burst into tears spontaneously on the street (I always get lost then panic and freak out, okay). I proudly went into work the next day and announced it, and they all humored me because they're nice like that.

Shev (who you may remember from Slovakia) was running late as usual (seriously, every.single.time), so for the 40 minutes it took for her to arrive one of the lovely staff members at BOUNCE played ping pong with me and got me cocktails. When Shev arrived she was quick to take over the bat, and after a few rounds of ping pong we were ready for dinner!

We sat down at one of the booth tables right in the heart of the venue, it's such a fun place to be, there's such an awesome atmosphere! Everyone's laughing and joking around and having fun. 

We both chose pizzas, with light desserts of sorbet.

Everything was delicious! We had such a fun evening at BOUNCE, it's such a great place to go with both friends and work colleagues. I will definitely be back soon!

Have you ever been to BOUNCE?

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*We were invited to BOUNCE as guests, and therefore our ping pong and food/drinks were complimentary. As always my opinions are my own, and we genuinely had a really fun evening!

Monday, 23 November 2015

ATP Tennis World Tour with Emirates.

I have been a frequent flyer with Emirates for nearly eight years. For three years after I moved back to England from Australia, I would fly back to Perth twice a year with Emirates. As a seventeen year old girl travelling over 8000 miles across the world all alone, they made me feel safe. Their planes were a welcome comfort and the lounge in Dubai a little haven for me to shower and eat cakes before the connecting flight to Perth. Not to mention their business class is out of this world amazing. These days I only fly with them once a year, but I still love them just as much.

So when Emirates invited me to the ATP Tennis World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena as their guest, there was only one answer I could respond with. A big fat yes. I adore tennis, it's one of the few sports I enjoy watching. This event was pretty special, Emirates were sponsors of the ATP World Tour, so not only would I be in the Emirates suite with full hospitality perks, we'd also have prime seats in the sponsor section of the arena. So I knew I had to take someone who would really fully appreciate the evening. 

Cue Dan. He appeared briefly in this post, and he also came to the London Restaurant Festival with me a coupla years back. I also owe my ability to use chopsticks and love of Japanese food to him! He's a pretty huge tennis fan (understatement), and had never seen Djokovic play live, so we met after work on Thursday outside the O2, and queued up to get through security. We got through fairly quickly and walked round to the sponsor area, collected our passes, dropped off our coats, then headed up to the Emirates Suite.

Inside was a beautiful lounge with comfortable chairs, a large TV showing the tennis, and a balcony over-looking the practice courts. There was a bar which offered an excellent selection of wines - I particularly liked the Marlborough Sauvignon-Blanc, while Dan opted for a glass of red and later a dessert wine, and a fabulous sushi bar with a very friendly sushi chef who kindly told us what each sushi was.

We each chose a selection of sushi - I absolutely loved the soft shell crab sushi and seabass nigiri!

After finishing our sushi and having a good catch up and natter, a waiter came round and offered us a selection of hot dishes. I had the duck, which was absolutely perfect! It was incredibly tasty. We watched a bit of the doubles on the TV (we could have gone to the arena to see it, but we chose to stay for food instead - standard), and next up was dessert. I may have had three of the chocolate, salted caramel, and banana brownies and two pots of the passion-fruit and pomegranate mouse...woops. 

Soon it was time to head to the arena for the Djokovic vs Berdych game. An Emirates representative led us in through a secret back entrance, and we were soon in the main strip behind the entrance to the arena seating. We went through a door and were shown down to our seats. The seats were ah-mazing. We were so close!

The match started and the atmosphere was electric! It really reminded me of an American sporting event, with the big screens and arena. Everyone was up and down in every break getting snacks and drinks, and it felt far more social and exciting than the likes of Wimbledon. 

We watched Djokovic absolutely smash Berdych. It was all over within an hour and a half. Two sets in and Djokovic was one step closer to the final (which he won on Sunday). It was quite tense at times and I got really stressed about it (much to Dan's amusement), but really Djokovic played quite lazily - he's just on a whole other level to Berdych! My biggest regret from the evening? Not taking my 300mm lens because I couldn't be bothered to carry it around all day. Doh. 

We had a brilliant and very fun evening, a huge thank you to Emirates for such a treat!

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Friday, 20 November 2015

Chotto Matte, Soho.

September marked twenty years since I met my best friend. Twenty years of memories, twenty years of sharing life's moments; both happy and heartbreaking. Naturally it seemed only right to celebrate like you would any other anniversary or birthday, so we decided to go to Nikkei cuisine restaurant, Chotto Matte, in Soho. I'd previously been for the launch of their tostaditas menu, but had never eaten an actual meal there, so was super excited to try it!

Emma works just round the corner from me, and we often have lunch together, so we met after work and walked down to Soho from Oxford Circus. We sat down at our table and after perusing the menu decided to go all out. If you can't do it on your 20-year-friendversary when can you!? 

So we started with a cocktail each. I chose the Flor de Manza, which was really sweet and very tasty! I do love passionfruit cocktails - the mask the taste of the alcohol ;)

I can't for the life of me remember what cocktail Emma had, but it looked fabulous and she really enjoyed it!

Finally our food arrived - we were absolutely starving and so excited for everything we'd chosen! We decided to go with a big mix of dishes and share them all.

We started with an 8 piece sashimi of tuna, sea bass, salmon, yellowtail. The sashimi was really fresh and I could have easily eaten all of it (bar the salmon - Emma had my salmon) all by myself.

Maki Rolls with seabass was up next. I actually really enjoyed having Maki rolls with seabass instead of the usual crab, it made a nice change and I think I may have even preferred it!

One of my favourite dishes of the night was the sea bass ceviche (sea bass sashimi, sweet potato, Peruvian corn, coriander, chive oil, citrus sauce), if you hadn't guessed by now I really bloody love sea bass. Especially when it's raw. I find it really refreshing and I loved how the dish was so zesty and there was so much flavour!

Ughh this dish. It was incredible. Tentáculos de pulpo (Octopus, yuzu, purple potato), Emma and I both agreed it was exceptionally good.

I found the Cangrejos de concha blanda (soft shell crab, yellow chili, yuzu) a bit too spicy, I'm not great with spicy foods and this was just a little bit too intense for me. However, it still disappeared into my belly as it really did taste delicious.

The Bacalao negro aji miso (black cod, yellow chili miso) melted in my mouth. I really adore black cod, and so far my favourites have been at Roka and Salmontini, and now the Chotto Matte black cod is definitely up there with those two! 

For dessert we went all out. And I mean all out. We couldn't decide which desserts to have, so we decided to have them all and shared the Dessert Platter, aka, the Dessert Platter of Dreams, as we now fondly call it. Oh my days. For anyone with a sweet tooth it is literally the perfect dish. Just look at it!!

The dessert platter was supposed to be shared between 3-4 people, but we happily polished off everything, despite all of the food we'd just eaten. And at just £14.50 we think it was an absolute bargain considering the desserts you got on it! You essentially get the three main desserts (including that salted chocolate fondant), as well as ice-cream, fruit, little madeline cakes, and a selection of mochi.

Every single dish we had was incredible. I didn't have a single complaint or a single one that I didn't like. Even the soft shell crab which was a bit too spicy, I still ate it because it was too tasty to not eat! Chotto Matte really exceeded my expectations, and it was the perfect place for our celebratory dinner. It's such a fun place and the atmosphere is always electric! It feels very cool and fun, and we absolutely loved it.

Also, the toilets there are pretty epic.

Have you been to Chotto Matte? 
What's your favourite Japenese/Peruvian/Nikkei cuisine restaurant in London?

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Chotto Matte Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

St Moritz Ski Bar at The Goring.

The Goring has a long and established history, being one of the most luxurious hotels in London. With a Michelin-starred restaurant and award-winning afternoon tea, The Goring was also the place Kate Middleton chose to spend the night before her wedding to Prince William in 2011. It's also the only hotel in London that is still owned and run by the family that built it!

Having been privately owned by the same family for over 100 years, The Goring have decided to spice things up a bit this winter by opening a pop-up bar in collaboration with another iconic family-owned hotel, Badrutt’s Palace in St Moritz. The reason behind the partnership is because Jeremy Goring, the fourth member of his family to run the luxury Belgravia hotel, recently unearthed two vintage photos of his great-grandfather and grandfather on the slopes of St Moritz, and was inspired to bring their favourite skiing spot to the family’s hotel this winter.

Last week Dr J and I headed to to Belgravia to check out The Goring's St Moritz Ski Bar. It had been a while since I'd last been to The Goring, and as soon as I stepped inside the lobby I was reminded why I love London. The history and beauty of these grand old hotels that make you feel as though you're stepping back in time. 

We walked through the bar and out to the back terrace where the pop-up is located. It was all warm and cosy, with sheepskin throws, heaters, candles, and classic jazz softly playing. The atmosphere was a sort of content happiness, with groups of friends and couples sipping on cocktails and mulled wine and just enjoying the evening, the sound of laughter erupting every so often.

The award-winning barman from Badrutt Palace, Andrea Delvo, had been flown in to launch the pop-up, and he created some really exceptional cocktails for us. There are four cocktails from the Badrutt Palace on the menu, and we decided to have two each to cover all of them. I absolutely loved both of mine; the signature cocktail and the absinthe based one.

We also had a selection of canapes, some triple cooked chips, and pate with brioche bread. Everything was delicious! 

Even Dr J was impressed, and he is a very difficult one to please. Trust me on this one. At my 21st birthday he complained that not enough men were wearing tailored suits in the RAC. He's appeared a few times on the blog, but as it's been such a long time he insisted I take a 'candid' photo of him staring into the distance to include in the post...I swear he's worse than us girls at times.

We had a really lovely evening drinking delicious cocktails, eating yummy food, and having a long overdue catch up. Due to Dr J working away in Cambridge for most of the year, hardly any of us have seen him in 2015, so it was really nice to hear what he's been up to. He works in cancer research so he's a bit of an interesting one.

If you're in need of a little bit of St Moritz but can't get to the slopes, head to the St Moritz Bar at The Goring. It's festive and wonderful and a really cosy place for cocktails, mulled wine, and good bar food. There's no need to book, just show up and nab a table!

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