Wining & Dining

Wining & Dining

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, travel well, if one has not dined well”

The CF Guide to Matcha in New York City

You may already know that I’m a huge matcha fan. Honestly, I’m not even sure how this obsession started. All I know is that I love anything with matcha, aka green tea. Come to think of it, I think it started with my obsession with matcha ice cream and probably macarons.

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An Afternoon in London with Oscar Wilde

Hotel Café Royal, established in 1865 is situated on one of London’s most famous streets, Regent Street, next to the landmark Piccadilly Circus which hails thousands of tourists everyday. As far as locations go it cannot be better. As you enter through its prominent and historic entrance, the lobby’s very modern set up provides a stark contrast. My destination for the afternoon was the Oscar Wilde Bar. The “bar” serves up a fine high tea, you may find yourself getting carried away with flutes of champagne, all the way into sundowners. Though I suspect you would be too full with the tea to put anything else in your belly.

On entering the room, the gold gilded walls and ceilings momentarily blind you, but my reflection in the wall to wall mirrors gave me a glimpse of how in awe I was of this room. Those of you who have read some of my previous posts,  have probably gathered by now that  I am a bit of a sucker for anything with a captivating historical background and story and this room has oodles of it. It started as The Grill Room and was later renamed the Oscar Wilde Bar after its most famous patron who reportedly met his boyfriend there. Royal and Hollywood icons from Princess Diana to Elizabeth Taylor were known to frequent the “bar”.

I was escorted to my very well-padded seat that fitted in perfectly with the low tables. There is a feel of being in a very wealthy child’s playroom at teatime playing “tea”.  Pink champagne at teatime on holiday is irresistible and so I very rudely ordered my first glass before my companion arrived.   Later we moved onto some white tea which I immediately realized was a mistake. A pick from the twenty tea blends on the menu would have been better choice.  The tea spread consisted of sandwiches, tarts, scones, and finally desserts. It was all delicious though the desserts were surprisingly underwhelming. I guess something needed to underwhelm in this very overwhelming room. Though the tea is the thing to do there, the experience is more centered on the ambience. It truly is about absorbing the décor of this classic reconstructed room whilst the pianist worked his nimble fingers across the ivories.

My taste buds were particularly tickled by the fancy muffins with goat’s cheese that came with a pipette of tomato juice to squirt onto the treat.

Stepping out after tea onto Regent’s Street with all its advertising and impossibly good looking models staring down at you, I really did feel like I had spent the last few hours quite literally in another world.  Don’t expect the food to blow your mind (though you will blow some cash) but the experience of it all will most certainly impress. Though like most sugar rushes, it wears off pretty quickly.

Top Tip:  Keep your stomach empty and your wallet full.

Average price per person – £60

Address: The Oscar Wilde Bar, Hotel Café Royal, 68 Regent Street, London.


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How Travelling Made Me A Foodie

I am not an excellent cook. Nor can I tell you the names of the top Michelin starred restaurants (perhaps more to do with my inability to remember the names of anything). But, I would definitely consider myself to be a foodie.

Not a food snob mind. Those are two entirely different things. One appreciates good quality, nicely presented food and the other only eats in places that sound like a font and that serve plates drizzled in evaporated jus. So no, not a food snob exactly – although I do love a deconstructed dish.

My inner foodie has only arisen in the last few years and although influenced by London living, this is mostly due to my foreign adventures.

After travelling around Thailand almost 4 years ago, I got over my fear of seafood and grudge against Asian flavours by practically being forced to live off rice and spicy curries (I only got food poisoning once, hurrah!). It opened my eyes to an entire new cuisine that I’d stayed away from and brought out a curious, less fearful character. I learnt to make my own spring rolls in a traditional cooking lesson (even if mine were the worst) and found an addiction to Pad Thai and green curry.

Back home I surprised my Dad ordering cod in a restaurant before running off to Italy for two weeks and coming home a red wine convert. I developed my adoration for Italian food after 14 days travelling from Florence to Venice, eating the best authentic meals from family restaurants and using fresh local ingredients to whip up fresh dishes in our Veronian apartment.

I tried calamari for the first time. And loved it. I was a new person.

Within a few weeks I was whipping up fresh pasta with my new pasta machine and cooking a 3 course meal for my family from scratch. I even made my own pesto. Who was this girl?! A year ago she only, just about, knew how to fry an egg.

Suddenly my Friday evenings spent scoffing dough balls in Pizza Express turned into Come Dine With Me nights with my girls. I learnt to cook a full roast dinner, used my Thai cook book and learnt what the f seasoning is. This new found appreciation for food outside of mainstream chains and bars of Dairy Milk had become a way of life.

My travels around Southern Africa led me to discover sushi, one of my FAVOURITE cuisines and for the first time I went wine tasting and became entranced by the world of fermented grapes, buying bottles to age at home.

I drank more red wine that year then the cast of Cougar Town.

Since then I’ve become the girl that will try anything… as long as it’s already peeled and doesn’t have eyes. I’m always reading about London’s newest openings, learning about the top chefs and crossing off independent restaurants from an ever-growing list. I’m not saying that I don’t ever eat in chains – dough balls will always be my weakness – but now I’m looking for places that serve those authentic flavours that I discovered in their homelands.

My travels are now influenced by food, as I look for the best restaurants in each destination before I even consider top sights or museum tours. And I’ve found a new love and excitement for cooking which I never ever had before. I actually enjoy hosting dinner parties and being creative with food. I’ve even begun to imagine myself in our future home, sweating over one of those cute freestanding range cookers, stirring a pot of my delicious traditional pomodoro pasta whilst the kids lay the table snacking on homemade garlic bread that I just whipped up earlier.

If you’d have told university Eppie that one day she’d be eating raw fish dipped in wasabi and be able to cook up a Sunday roast… she’d have probably spat her tuna pasta out in laughter.

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Picture Perfect in Marylebone, London

Photo Credit: The Foodaholic

It’s a tough spot where the new Picture Marylebone is located. You are not guaranteed footfall here, but what you are guaranteed in Picture Marylebone, is excellent fayre. The kind of place the locals will go, and really, that’s the kind of place you want to visit.

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Brunch, bonita in Bogota!

Welcome to Calle 81, Bogota’s brunch street. 

The delightful aroma of recently baked bread makes a morning jog down Calle 81 from La Séptima well worthwhile. And yep, you’ll only find me jogging if it means getting some brunch faster! This leafy Bogota street is what Citizen Femme dreams are made of – with 5 European style brunch spots in the space of just 2 blocks, it’s the ultimate place to enjoy the mid-morning delights that you’ll surely be missing while on the road in South America.

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Arzak, Homage to Michelin dining in San Sebastian

I was speaking with a proud Indian father about his children’s wedding, due to take place later that month.  What? Why? You are all flying to San Sebastian? Basque Country? To celebrate as other’s take terrorism precautions, are you sure?

Yes – indeed they were.  The regional attacks that the North of Spain was suffered have now subsided, and for long enough that the dark cloud has shifted to unveil a glorious region and city. “My children are foodies”, Mr Desai explained, and they have been to San Sebastian perhaps 30 times in recent years for it has more Michelin Star restaurants per square mile than anywhere else in the world.

That was it.  I was off…

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Singapore’s Plain Vanilla Bakery

If you are always looking for that quirky little cafe where you can pull out your laptop, sip on that perfect cup of coffee and are surrounded by chitter chatter and the sweet smell of freshly baked treats, then this is a go-to.

I first stumbled upon this place when my friend and I were looking for a lunch spot in the upcoming and trendy area of Tiong Bahru with no time constraints. The café is located in a quiet spot on the Yong Siak Street that neighbours cool and quirky boutique shops and studios.


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Indulge in Chocolate Week in London

Chocolate Week is the week where visitors from across the globe flock to London for one reason and one reason only: to eat copious amounts of chocolate in the name of cultural exploration. Attend the events, the workshops and feast your eyes on counter after counter of delicious bonbons, but you might find yourself asking, where’s the dining experience in all of this? All Citizen Femme women know that you cannot have a fantastic trip without at least one fantastic meal, so how about this – indulging in chocolate through our favourite meal of the day: afternoon tea. Here are our top London picks of Chocolate week high teas.

If you’re a chocolate-lover looking to indulge, I have picked out 2. But for the last weekend of Chocolate Week, you can take a look at the events here and enjoy tastings, chocolate catwalks, chocolate flavoured wine and so much more!

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Drink Up! London Cocktail Week Top Picks


3-9 OCTOBER 2016

It’s that time of year again! Time to get moving, shaking and stirring with copious amounts of alcoholic concoctions in your hands in the vibrant British capital, because London Cocktail Week is finally here. Held every fall for the last 7 years, this annual cocktail-goers event had become nothing short of a London institution, and we couldn’t be happier to see its return again this year.

LCW is a whole week-long festival dedicated to cocktails, held across the city with more pop-up bars and special promotions than you can imagine. And this year, there are two main hubs for the festivities: the Central London Glasshouse Street centre near Piccadilly Circus and the off-the-tourist-track Cocktail Village in Old Spitalfield Markets. Here you’ll find over 40 pop-up bars, trucks and even bicycles from the biggest names in the drinks industry, creating the most fascinating settings for your drinking adventures. And if you shell out the £10 for an official wristband, you can get special cocktails for just £5 from many of the pop-up bars as well as 200 participating bars all over London and access to exclusive parties and other pop-ups, too. Sounds pretty special, right? So here are my top picks:

#1 First up, the Bombay Sapphire vintage pop-up train bar is top of the list. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s London’s first train-carriage pop-up bar and it’s coming to Old Spitalfields Market this LCW. Step aboard and have your tickets ready to be checked by Cahoots’ most innovative of bars before beginning your gin journey to Laverstoke, the home of Bombay Sapphire’s secret distillery. This pop-up bar takes the art of gin and tonic to a new level, with a menu inspired by the adventures of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. ‘The captain solves a mystery’, made with Bombay Sapphire, Smer picon, Kamm & Sons and Martini Fiero and ‘the captain meets a tropical stranger’, made with a healthy dash of limoncello, pineapple and pomegranate juice, 2 of my favourite options. Guests will even be issued with a night watchman ticket on the train, allowing you to take the night tube to Cahoots in Soho for a complimentary cocktail after 11pm any night of the week.


#2 Then, there’s the Patrón Cocktail Lab Takeover from Patrón Tequila in the Cocktail Village for you to sink your teeth into. The answer to what do you get if you put seven award-winning international bar tenders, a healthy budget and lashings of tequila together for 7 consecutive days (and the answer is pure magic, of course). The aim is to channel pure serenity and the essence of nature, with herb-based cocktails, as well as the regular staples. Try Jose Luis Leon’s ‘Chipotle Punch’ – he’s one of the most famous bartenders in Mexico, and for good reason (just be prepared for a fiery kick!) and feel like you’re travelling the world without getting on a plane with this international bartending cast and menu.


#3 And speaking of planes, we also love the ‘Departure Lounge’ pop-up by Angostura and Luxardo. This aeroplane-themed bar is your ticket to the famous concoctions of the London Cocktail Club this LCW. Slushie cocktails, aviation passports and even a photo booth to get your passport pictures ready in this other-worldly cocktail experience. We’re big fans of the London Cocktail Club enterprise, so we can’t wait to see what they have in store for us this Cocktail Week.


#4 And if you’re still looking for another tipple after all this, take one for the road with Spartans Cocktail Taxi. This one is more of an investment for the future than a top-tip just for this week, though. London’s first cocktail delivery service, it doesn’t get any better than this. This big green VW Camper Van cruises around London delivering the best cocktails (and bartenders) that the open road has to offer, made right in front of you – and they even deliver across the city 24 hours a day. So try them now, remember them for later. We’re definitely calling up this service for a 3am cocktail delivery when the city bars close on a Friday night in future… London Cocktail week doesn’t end on the 9th of October in our hearts and in our minds, after all…

Click HERE for the full list of pop-ups

Where: Old Spitalfields Market, London, E1 6EW
When: October 3rd till 9th – Mon 5pm-9.30pm, Tues-Sat Midday-9.30pm, Sun Midday-7pm


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Il Baretto, London: Review

#foodcoma was most definitely fabricated in London. The city offers the finest food, from street, kitchen to gastro! Il Baretto is part of this food frenzy, serving up some delicious modern Italian cuisine. Known for its macaroni with black truffle, Il Baretto takes traditional dishes and adds its own modern spin.

Having heard so much about the place, I was finally treated for lunch during my recent London visit. Located off Baker Street, it is easy to find and a short walking distance from Bond Street Station. The restaurant is quaint and cosy, with casual outdoor seating and a more formal basement set up. We sat indoors and I especially loved their open kitchen and wood fire pizza set up.


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The Best Ruin Bars in Budapest

The thing to do when you’re in Budapest is not to hit night clubs or fancy restaurants. Instead, you’ve got to do a massive pub crawl through the best ruin pubs in the city, famous simply for the fact that they’re literally built up in ruins. These are the places where everyone from the crazy stags and hens, to the who’s who of Budapest hangs out. Here are my top 5 ruin pubs to check out the next time you’re in Budapest.

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Fact or fiction: all chain restaurants have the same general food and décor location to location. If you said “fact” you’ve never been to Earls Kitchen + Bar. Located in the NewCity shopping area of Lincoln Park, this 33-year-old Canadian eatery is reinventing what it means to be a chain — no two restaurants are the same and the menu varies by city. What’s the most unexpected detail? Almost everything is made in house, from scratch (trust me, I stood inside of the refrigerator). As I walked up to the door, I was immediately eager to sit down on the covered patio, complete with plush couches and a personal fire for each table. The interior of the restaurant was vast, and when I entered I noticed another patio, two bars and the main dining room, located right next to the open kitchen.

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15 desserts to try before you die, Chicago

Forgotten-Cookies-1050x700In the Summertime, the City is divided into two groups of people: dessert resisters and dessert embracers. I am part of the second group — I embrace dessert with open arms (along with a double dose of classes at Shred 415). When we only have a few short months to enjoy quintessential summer sweets, such as rosé snow cones and gourmet ice cream sandwiches, it seems silly to avoid. There’s nothing quite like ending a satisfying meal on a decadently delightful note, so why not dig in?

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Sushi in Madrid

Madrid is a city of history, world famous museums, luxury hotels, tapas, shopping and entertainment. Surprisingly enough, it’s also a place to find some of the tastiest Japanese/Sushi cuisine around! Get ready to taste a traditional Japanese meal intermixed with Spanish Fusion! Here are my recommendations of the best places to check out whilst in Madrid.

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Rosé this way: Chicago’s Luxbar


Last winter, I became obsessed with the idea of finding the “perfect” bar cart. My requirements were purely aesthetic, and eventually my quest arrived at its happy ending – I was gifted an absolutely stunning pewter and glass round cart for my birthday. It had two levels and many ornate details and diamond cutouts throughout. I went straight to work on accessorizing, and found a matching ice bucket, cocktail shaker, iridescent champagne glasses, shot glasses and coasters. My work was complete, or so I thought. It wasn’t until I entered LUXBAR a few weeks ago that I realized what my bar cart was missing – an eclectic collection of rosé from all over the world.

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Get there quick! The last place with ‘crawfish’ in New Orleans this Summer

New Orleans is famous for its world-class crawfish (or ‘crayfish’, as the rest of the world calls it), so obviously, like me, you’ll want to make sure that you can try some whilst you’re there. However, if like me, you’re stupid enough to book your trip outside of crawfish season, you might run into some problems. The first time a restaurant owner told me this, I stared back at him in confusion and repeated the question. ‘What, you don’t have any crawfish? Does anyone have any crawfish?’ – because I couldn’t help thinking, how can they only be available in one specific season? And why did nobody mention this to me before? But I don’t want you to suffer through the same struggles that I did, because there is a way – and it’s called Three-Legged Dog, a dive-bar in the French Quarter.

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5 of the Best Dining Spots off Bond Street, London

Not sure about you girls but I’m thinking London is hooooot right now. So hot that I want a brand new LA inspired wardrobe! Wandering down Bond Street on a sunny shopping spree, where can a fashionista go when hunger strikes? Many of the restaurants are already fully booked in this prime Mayfair location. Never fear, Mona is here!

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Venom Restaurant & Lounge, Nairobi

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”. That’s definitely the expression you need to keep in mind when walking into the Venom Restaurant and Bar on the 9th Floor of Victoria Courts on Parklands Road. A few people had told me that the owners of Venom had brought down one of the chefs from the renowned Masala Library in India, and that they created Indian dishes using molecular gastronomy. This of course piqued my interest and I just had to try it for myself, despite the garish setting. The best word to describe the interior, without being rude, is… shiny. Shiny curtains separate strange private lounges, tall shiny backed bar stools adorn an extremely shiny long bar counter, and white sofas with sparkles sit around the space. Appealing? Not quite…

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Cocktail Bars in Ginza, Tokyo

Japanese cuisine has always followed the seasons. Take kaiseki and sushi for instance, the former is a multi-course meal using only seasonal ingredients and the latter features seafood often caught in the early hours of the day.

It is therefore no surprise to experience seasonality with the fruit based cocktails at the old school bars in Ginza, Tokyo. The Japanese take their fruit very seriously. If ever in doubt, check out the Sembikiya Nihonbashi shop in Tokyo. Expect to pay around £160 for a muskmelon, the most pampered melon in the world. It is treated to heaters in the winter and air conditioners in the summer!

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Piano Bar, Los Angeles – A slice of authenticity in amongst Hollywood’s plastic bar scene

Weaving in and out of the bars of the Hollywood Boulevard strip and the surrounding streets, you’ve probably noticed that they seem to fall into either one of two categories. Either, they’re cheap, nasty and maybe even a little bit intimidating local dives, or they’re ultra-swanky, dress-code enforcing places with the personality of an eggplant. But there is a better way. Piano Bar, located at 6429 Selma Avenue, near to the acclaimed Hotel Café and just a block away from Caheunga Boulevard, is your key to the area’s authenticity.

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Brew Bistro at Fortis Towers, Nairobi

Brew Bistro is one of my most favourite bars in Nairobi. I’ve spent many a night at their Ngong Road location, catching up with old friends, making the most of their happy hour and sampling their tasty snacks. When I moved houses to the other end of Nairobi, I couldn’t hang out there as much as I previously did and so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they are opening up in a new location, somewhere much closer to home for me – Westlands! Fortis Towers rooftop to be precise. And boy, was I excited!

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Bar Asia – Urban Eatery, Nairobi

Japanese and Chinese are two of my favourite cuisines (after Indian) because their food is always bursting with umami and flavour, it’s the type of food you always seem to crave. So I visited Bar Asia, the Pan Asian Kitchen at Urban Eatery. I had a couple of my friends come with me, just so that we could try more variety – but note this, one of my friends is vegetarian and the other is not only vegetarian, but doesn’t eat garlic, onions, potatoes, carrots or eggs. Challenge on, Bar Asia!

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Ziya Restaurant – Mumbai

Ziya is revolution of sorts In Indian food in a city which is not too keen to experiment or rather “modernise” their staples.   The restaurant menu has been conceptualised by London based Michelin star chef, Vineet Bhatia. The genius of the menu lies in the manner which traditional Indian dishes from different regions of the country have retained their essence whilst interspersing different ingredients and textures into one plate to create culinary exquisiteness.

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Speakeasy at Hotel Muse – Bangkok’s most underrated roof top bar

In recent years, Bangkok’s rooftop bar scene has exploded in both popularity and size. It seems like every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to cash-in on the city’s breathtaking skyline by charging extortionate prices in sometimes sub-par establishments that lack the proper decorum and atmosphere that anyone would expect of an ordinary bar without a view. SkyBar is undoubtedly the most famous rooftop bar in the Thai capital, yet when they actually arrive on top of the majestic skyscraper, many say that they believe the bar itself to be over-rated.

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