Foodie Adventures: Damson & Co

12516666_1096405517077068_100352026_o

Birthday weekends. The perfect one is hard to achieve, but you can go a long way in the right direction with a good brunch. So on the day after my birthday Helen (my official brunch buddy) and I headed into deepest Soho in search of something delicious. We were actually heading for a bigger establishment, but met with the Saturday lunchtime crowds we wandered away and found this place instead.

12655933_1096406030410350_538877048_o

The menu was substantial, ranging from breakfast items through to various dishes more reminiscent of lunch – I believe meatballs featured – and we both had trouble settling on just one thing to order!

In the end Helen ordered a green shakshuka (a spinachy omelette thing, with the eggs baked whole rather than beaten) and I had the eggs royale (poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and smoked salmon on an English muffin). My food was really delicious and everything was prepared perfectly. I couldn’t really fault it.

12656137_1096406023743684_661660141_o

12633365_1096404717077148_617603732_o

I also ordered a banana smoothie. The smoothie was okay, but to be honest it wasn’t as tasty as similar ones I’ve made at home, so I’ll admit I was a little disappointed. Helen had better luck with her coconut milk mocha – even as someone who doesn’t really appreciate coffee I can tell you it was amazing. Rich and creamy with a real depth of flavour, and beautifully presented.

Service was good and fresh tap water was generously provided – one of the little touches which really makes an experience better. The prices are on the steep side, but what you’d expect to pay in this area of London really.

The verdict? Definitely give Damson & Co a try if you get the chance.

© Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

Foodie Adventures {Warsaw}: a whistle stop tour

What do foodies do when they go on holiday? It’s honestly not a trick question. They eat. And we certainly made the most of our time in Warsaw last month, eating in as many different places as possible all over the city. Here is a whistle stop tour of some of the best.

Cheesecake Corner

12043787_1025223440861943_1263259285_o

We spent several lovely afternoons watching the world go by from a cafe on Krakowskie Przedmieście, one of Warsaw’s prettiest streets. Cheesecake, a good book and a healthy dose of sunshine-soaked people watching — it doesn’t get much better than that, does it? This Oreo cheesecake was delicious. Creamy and rich, but not too sweet. The view from the white wicker chairs outside wasn’t bad either. Their website is here.

12076591_1032727683444852_1540849745_o

Tapas Gastrobar

12015557_1025224740861813_1100285655_o

This was a little way away from our hostel, but very much worth the walk. The decor was just up my street: white and blue dominated, combined with geometrically patterned tiles and vintage posters in shabby chic frames. The food was exquisite and the service was fast and friendly. A highlight was the salted pork belly – hot and delicious. The cold potato salad smothered in aioli was a little unexpected, but worked perfectly. Check it out here.

12020213_1025224500861837_308763228_o

Ceprownia

12020649_1023895294328091_757497463_o

The guidebook hit the nail on the head when it described Ceprownia as ‘hearty shepherd’s fare’: this is where we got our first taste of Polish food when we first arrived in Warsaw last year, and it’s the first place we visited when we returned this year. Homely stews, potato fritters, amazing fried goat’s cheese and more pickles than you could shake a stick at all consumed by lamplight in an interior made mainly of wood, this is Polish food at its most uncomplicated. Special mention goes to the creamy salad dressing that came with every dish. We had dinner there on our first night, and went back for lunch on our last day. Visit their website here.

12050579_1027704373947183_1811272978_o

Cafe Vincent

12022214_1025222997528654_248336808_o (1)

This was our favourite breakfast spot: a French- style patisserie on Warsaw’s main street. They had row upon row of every baked good you could think of, fresh from the oven, and a nice selection of drinks to go with them. We enjoyed the madeleines (already explored on this blog, here, and the boy’s favourite) and I had one of the best lemon tarts I’ve ever had! Very lemony, and the perfect level of intense tartness. I love breakfast on holiday… Cafe Vincent don’t have a website that I can find, but you can visit them at Nowy Świat 64, 00-357 Warszawa, Poland if you happen to be in the vicinity.

12037780_1025236244193996_1972312550_o

12043908_1029397150444572_618347228_o

Lots of our recommendations of where to eat came from the ‘In Your Pocket’ city guide, which was invaluable as we hurried about Warsaw. You can download it for free here – we loaded the PDF version onto M’s Kindle, which was super handy.

Listening to Kaleidoscope Heart by Sarah Bareilles, Apple Honey by the Woody Herman Orchestra and Take me for what I am from RENT.

© Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Foodie adventures: Beam Cafe, Crouch End

Last Sunday, I went for a wonderful brunch with one of my best friends in one of my favourite parts of London. Could a Sunday morning get much better? I love Crouch End for its abundance of pretty cafes and cute card shops – perfect for a weekend wander. Unfortunately it was a bit of a rainy morning when we headed to Beam Cafe for breakfast, so there was less wandering and more eating brunch in the cosy confines of this lovely eatery. Not a problem in the slightest.

11806931_994119353972352_127064080_o

I ordered the Eggs Royale: fluffy muffins lightly toasted, topped with perfectly poached eggs, smoked salmon, delicately creamy hollandaise sauce and a tumble of chives. It was delicious. Thinking about it now (8pm on a Monday evening) I could eat it all over again. In fact, I’ve thought about this dish an unhealthy number of times since I polished off the last forkful. This is what brunch was invented for.

11806618_994114893972798_1036392108_o

11840220_994117833972504_1957971004_o

Freshly squeezed orange juice: sweet and tangy at the same time with a pleasing amount of froth

My friend had the avocado, egg and bacon on toast — she enjoyed it very much. I’d thoroughly recommend this little cafe: the interior was simple and cosy and yet felt chic at the same time. Even a couple of tight-fisted northerners like ourselves conceded that the prices were pretty darn reasonable, especially given how genuinely exquisite the food was and what a nice part of London this is. We’re already devising excuses to return soon!

11801089_994115970639357_1628656164_o

Fork – ACTION SHOT

Listening to Holding Back the Years by Gretchen Parlato, Let’s hear it for the boy by Deniece Williams and Put the Gun Down by ZZ Ward. All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Foodie Adventures: The Haberdashery, Crouch End

Last weekend, my lovely friend Helen came to stay. We share an ardent appreciation of all things vintage, pretty and higgledy-piggledy — we spend a lot of time exchanging links to beautiful tiles and extravagant baking projects. Mainly on Pinterest. You get the picture. And so when she arrived off the train at King’s Cross from my home town, I really wanted to make the most of having her in London and go somewhere adorable and awesome. A quick Google search of something along the very predictable lines of ‘cosiest cafes in London’ yielded The Haberdashery: the name had me instantly hooked. It was only an easy half hour bus ride from where we were to Crouch End, so off we went.

Haberdashery_5_04_2012 041

I didn’t manage to get my own photograph of the amazing interior; this one is from the cafe’s website

We loved it! The interior is stunning; vintage and chintzy in all of the best ways with excellent use of Victorian fireplace tiles and coffee bowls (yep, we saw people getting hot chocolate in what looked like breakfast bowls, heaven) hanging eccentrically behind the till. Our drinks came in glass bottles, and our food arrived on charmingly mismatched vintage plates. AND our butter came in an ancient looking ceramic tub that once contained ‘Sainsbury’s Freshly Made Bloater Paste’, which it turns out (thanks, Google) is a kind of fish paste made from Bloater fish, which is traditionally eaten on toast for afternoon tea. No actual fish paste on offer, sadly, so I had a Breakfast Roll with bacon and egg. The bread was lovely —  exactly the right level of toasted — sweet and chewy. The egg was fresh and cooked to perfection — the bacon just as good. I know, I know, it’s an egg and bacon sandwich. But that just seems like a massive understatement: it really was unlike any I’ve ever eaten.

I also had a yummy Elderflower Soda Jar, which of course came in an actual chunky jar with a handle. Again, it was like Elderflower cordial I’d had before, but just somehow better. The cakes looked amazing, but we were just too full after our delicious mains to sample any! I have vowed to return for afternoon tea very, very soon. Here’s the website: if you ever find yourself in Crouch End, definitely pop in. Actually scrap that, it’s worth making the journey especially, if only just to avoid another soul- destroying “Oh, I suppose we’ll just go to Starbucks, then” moment. I’ll certainly be back!

The Breakfast Roll of destiny

The Breakfast Roll of destiny

10873980_886099851440970_1464651040_o

Elderflower Cordial in a handy-handled jar

Helen with 'The Colonial' Juice: apple, cucumber, lime + mint

Helen with ‘The Colonial’ Juice: apple, cucumber, lime + mint

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015. Except the first photograph, which is from The Haberdashery’s website here.

The Grand Budapest Hotel: A Review

This was my first experience of Wes Anderson’s direction, and he certainly left an impression with his tale of the adventures of Gustave H, a hotel concierge, and his trusted friend Zero. I was immediately captivated by the cardboard cut- out world which he had created so painstakingly,  and which resembled the inside of a Parisian patisserie. From the icing sugar- dusted mountain tops of his fictional Europe to its outrageously colourful inhabitants, this film was certainly a joy to behold. I felt the urge to freeze each frame in an effort to drink in all of the detail, and to appreciate for a few moments more the beauty and drama of the quirky composition and eye- watering pastels. Accompanied by a staccato soundtrack, the actors moved with a kind of lyrical synchronicity which gave many scenes the feeling of a bizarre dance, and snappy dialogue brought wry smiles and deep thought in equal measure. A fabulous ensemble cast including the likes of Jude Law and Bill Murray elicited chuckles of recognition at every turn, and Ralph Fiennes was perfect as the charming and whimsical Gustave H.

But this film was not entirely style without substance: beneath the confectioner’s pastel we glimpsed the underbelly of this alternate but chillingly recognisable Europe: newsprint declared the coming of war, soldiers stood starkly at checkpoints and demanded documents, and grey flags were unfurled in the opulence of the hotel’s lobby.  But despite the darker elements, the story remained charmingly bittersweet. The characters were funny, they were clever, and they were likable, and most importantly they went on a good old-fashioned romp among the mountains of Wes Anderson’s imagination. There were cable cars, murders, a missing will, a chase down a snowy mountainside, a stolen painting, champagne, a prison break, a love affair and exquisite patisserie: what more could you really ask for? Extremely enjoyable and visually stunning, the Europe of The Grand Budapest Hotel is certainly a continent to visit.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014, apart from the film poster, which is from the movie’s official website.