Monday, 30 June 2014

Friday Night at London Zoo Lates.

Zoo Lates at London Zoo has been going on for a few years now. Every Friday during the summer months they open the zoo after the closing time of 5pm for a big party. It's adults only, and there are food stalls, a silent disco, and 'lawn games'. You can wander round the zoo and see the animals before they go to bed at 9pm, go on the carousel, watch the musicians or comedy acts, and generally just have a good time! 

London Zoo Lates Penguins

London Zoo Lates
We started by visiting the penguins, but Shev doesn't like them, so we moved to the Tigers. It was at this stage that we started to get sad. I always make this mistake, I always go to zoos and then get really sad about the animals being stuck in cages and small spaces. So we decided that we're all gonna go to Asia next year to see the tigers in their natural habitats! 

London Zoo lates tiger
London zoo lates tiger
London zoo lates giraffes

London Zoo Giraffes

London Zoo Lates
After visiting the Giraffe's and Zebra's we went to see the Gorilla's. The Gorilla really made us sad, he looked really stressed out and confused about why everyone was standing there staring at him. It's weird how they look so human, their eyes show so much emotion. I just wanted to give the poor Gorilla a big hug!

London Zoo Gorilla

London Zoo Gorilla
After getting ourselves distressed over the animals behind glass, we went to get some food before hitting the silent disco. The queues for all of the food stalls were huuuuge, so we went for the shortest one, Rocket Dogs hot dogs, and they were actually pretty good, I love hot dog places that have crispy onions!

London Zoo lates Rocket Dogs hot dogs

London Zoo lates Rocket Dogs hot dogs

London Zoo lates
After scoffing our hot dogs we then went in search of the Dutch Pancakes we'd spied people eating. We eventually found them on the way to the silent disco, and all shared a giant plate of them covered in Nutella and Strawberries - delish!

London Zoo lates dutch pancakes
We then spent about a coupla hours at the Silent Disco, until the park closed at 10pm. You pay a £10 deposit for your headphones, and then there are two channels to choose from. You can switch channels whenever you want at the press of a button on the headphones. I always thought silent discos were a bit odd and I never really thought I'd enjoy them, but we had so much fun! 

London Zoo lates silent disco

London Zoo lates silent disco

London Zoo lates silent disco

London Zoo lates silent disco

London Zoo lates silent disco

London Zoo lates silent disco
London Zoo lates
Despite being sad about the animals, we still had an awesome night dancing at the silent disco! 

Have you been to Zoo Lates? What's your favourite animal?

Friday, 27 June 2014

Authentic Greek Dining at Mazi, Notting Hill.

On Monday evening I went to Greek restaurant Mazi in Notting Hill for dinner with the lovely ladies from Purple PR and three other bloggers and journalists. It was an intimate affair with the six of us sat outside in the cute little garden, sharing plates upon plates of delicious Greek food and Tzatziki Martinis. 

I'm a huge fan of Greek food, especially since my trip to Kefalonia on the Greek Islands last year, so I was very much looking forward to sampling the cooking of world-renown Chef George Venieris. George has been crowned 'Best Greek Chef' for two years running by Conde Nast Traveller, so I knew we were in for a treat!

Mazi Notting Hill Tzatziki Martini

We started with thick crusty bread with olive oil, before being presented with our refreshing Tzatziki Martinis and Mastiha Mojitos - perfect for the warm evening we were basking in. 

Mazi Notting Hill Mojito
Mazi Notting Hill
Then out came the food, while the clouds started to crowd overhead. No matter though, the outside terrace has a retractable roof which came in very handy when the weather took its unexpected turn. But back to the food. 

We started with Fish roe mousse Tarama with lemon caviar, which was scooped out of its jar and slathered onto the thick bread we'd been given earlier. Along with the Fish roe mousse, the Spicy tiropita with broken filo pastry and grilled leeks was also scooped and slathered....after smashing the filo pastry with my fork, of course.

Mazi Fish roe mousse Tarama with lemon caviar

Mazi Spicy tiropita with broken filo pastry and grilled leeks
The next jars we tasted were the Grilled aubergine with soy and thyme honey and Squid ink fava bean purée and fried calamari. The Squid Ink jar has to be one of my favourite dishes of the night, it was mindblowingly tasty; the Squid ink fava bean puree coated the calamari, to the point that biting down on the squidgy calamari came as a lovely unexpected surprise with each mouthful.

Mazi Notting Hill Squid ink fava bean purée and fried calamari

Mazi Notting Hill Grilled aubergine with soy and thyme honey
The Greek Salad that was served up next was a delicious palate cleanser, with the flavours refreshing, and a harsh reminder that my M&S Greek Salad that I have daily just can't match up to the real thing.

Mazi Notting Hill Greek Salad
The Courgette cakes with cucumber and mint dip were another favourite of mine, I think this is why I love Greek food so much - they love courgettes (or Zucchini) just as much as I do! 

Mazi Courgette cakes with cucumber and mint dip
Already getting full-up, and nowhere near the end, I ploughed on like any good food blogger would! After all, the best was yet to come! Starting with the Feta tempura with sweet caper meringue and lemon marmalade, this was a moreish delight. The melted feta oozed from the cracked tempura batter so quickly I had to shovel it into my mouth. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it all over again.

Mazi Feta tempura with sweet caper meringue and lemon marmalade
Phew, ok, at this point I was very full. But nope, still more to go, and the heaviest courses of them all - the meat. In photographic order; beef, rabbit, and chicken. The rabbit was a melt in the mouth moment, that's for sure, and the mushrooms that accompanied the black truffle chicken were sauteed in the most delicious sauce.

Mazi Beef fillet Kontosouvli ‎ smoky tomatoes and stir fried Politiki

Mazi Shredded rabbit stifado and pearl onion cream

Mazi Black truffle chicken Hunkar begendi
Ok, next was my favourite. Grilled octopus and parsley potato salad. 

Mazi Grilled octopus and parsley potato salad
I'm so happy that these were all sharing plates, otherwise I never would have survived! I really enjoyed sharing dishes with people I'd only just met, it was a really great ice-breaker as we all umm-d and aah-d and discussed each component of each dish. 

Mazi Notting hill garden

We finally finished the main courses, and started on the desserts. We tried three...

Mazi Galaktoboureko soaked in sweet syrup with milk custard

Galaktoboureko soaked in sweet syrup with milk custard, this came a very close second to my favourite dessert. The presentation was effortlessly impressive, and the pastry was crisp and the inside thick and creamy.

Mazi Greek Yoghurt mousse, quince pudding, cinnamon rusks
Greek Yoghurt mousse, quince pudding, cinnamon rusks. Very light, very refreshing, and very 'it's summer!', this was an enjoyable dessert, but I'm not really a 'light dessert' sorta gal.

My personal favourite however....

Mazi Loukoumades, lavender honey, and chocolate sorbet

Loukoumades, lavender honey, and chocolate sorbet. The Loukoumades were very much like pastry donuts, and were voted one of the best donuts in London by the Evening Standard! I can definitely see why, light and sickeningly sweet, they were the perfect end to a wonderful dinner. Can I please have them every day?! 

I had a lovely evening with excellent food and even better company, and thanks to the retractable roof we barely noticed the rain coming down around us! We were also lucky enough to have a chat to the owners, Adrien and Christina, and learned that Mazi was created from their love for Greece and Greek food, with Christina originally from the Greek city Thessaloniki. Apparently one of her family members goes out diving every day for a particularly type of seaweed, and then has it shipped over to them fresh! 

Mazi Notting Hill
Inside Mazi is light, airy, clean, and just feels good. It's so refreshing to have a light and airy restaurant rather than these moody in-vogue ones where you can barely see what you're eating. I was also shocked to hear that Mazi currently has a waiting list of over 300 people every Saturday night, however, after tasting the food, maybe I shouldn't be so shocked. 

If you love Greek food, definitely pay Mazi a visit, but maybe don't try and get in on a Friday or Saturday night. Weekdays are their quietest times, and make sure to make the most of this gorgeous weather and ask for a table outside! They also have a very reasonable set lunch menu, which is worth checking out if you're on a budget.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

A Lazy Saturday & Lunch 'On The Roof With Q'.

After a week of cloudy weather, the sunshine came out yesterday and gave us a glorious day! I drove into town to meet Bella and Lotte for a lazy day boating and lunching. We didn't go to Royal Ascot this year as we felt we needed a break (also every year it gets trashier and trashier, it's so upsetting), so instead we hired a row boat in Hyde Park, rowed around the Serpentine, and then walked over to Selfridges for a lazy late lunch at their new pop-up rooftop restaurant 'On the Roof with Q'.

Hyde Park rowing on Serpentine

Hyde Park rowing on serpentine
Lotte and Bella did all of the rowing, while I sat and watched the world go by. We had so much fun, and by the time we got back to the boatshed we were definitely ready for our late lunch! 

We were originally going to go to 'On the Roof with Q' for afternoon tea, however when we got there at 3:30pm and saw all of the incredible looking dishes on the tables, we succumbed and had a very late lunch instead. The atmosphere was fantastic, the sun was out, the roof was off, and we happily sipped cocktails whilst perusing the menu in the sunshine.

On The Roof with Q Selfridges

On The Roof with Q Selfridges menu
We started with cocktails, I had a 'Roof House Punch', which was really fruity and one of the nicest cocktails I've ever had! 

On The Roof with Q Selfridges Roof House Punch cocktail

I hadn't had breakfast and hadn't had dinner the night before, so was absolutely starving! Everything looked so good, but when I saw the burger with avocado, I had to have it. It didn't disappoint. It was huge; the meat was juicy, the bun was that delicious toasted brioche style, and the avocado all creamy and perfect! 

Lotte got the ribs, which didn't look impressive as they didn't come with anything - they were just a rack of ribs on a plate, so I didn't photograph. However she did say they were really good! We shared fries, while Bella was healthy and had the bosworth ash and broccoli tart - she wouldn't stop raving about the bosworth ash cheese! 

On The Roof with Q Burger with Avocado

On The Roof with Q Fries

After our main meals we ordered dessert and sat chatting in the beautiful surroundings while we waited. On the Roof with Q really is lovely, it's designed like an old Victorian conservatory, with pretty flowers and plant pots. It feels very homely, and even has fake grass to give it an English Garden feel. Of course being on the rooftop of Selfridges meant the view was pretty good too! Obviously nothing compared to the likes of The Shard and Sushisamba/Duck & Waffle, but still nice to look at nonetheless. 

On The Roof with Q Selfridges

On The Roof with Q Selfridges

On The Roof with Q Selfridges
Dessert was the perfect choice for such a warm day; lemon posset with peppercorn shortbread. The posset had the perfect amount of lemon, and was creamy and oh so refreshing! The shortbread surprised me, it was very citrus-y and the peppercorn went so well with it, it was delicious.

On The Roof with Q Lemon Posset

On The Roof With Q Lemon Posset
We had such a lovely day, it was great to see the girls again and have a catch up and plan our fun-filled summer. It's so nice to have friends who appreciate long lunches and lazy days. We spent half the money we'd usually spend on Ascot on our day out, and had a great time! Lunch at 'On the Roof with Q' costs between £20-£40 depending on how many cocktails you have *coughbella* ;). 

Sadly the service was rather shoddy (we didn't get our water until dessert, despite us asking for it twice throughout the meal), however the food was delicious, so I'd definitely recommend a visit purely for the atmosphere and food (and cocktails!). You must book in advance though, and the restaurant is open until the end of August when it will close for winter.

What's your favourite summertime lazy day? 
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