Blackfoot, Exmouth Market

Blackfoot is a place for people who love pig. Or to be more precise, pork. As a child I loved sausages, my university days were spent guzzling bacon butties, and now, in my civilised twenties I can’t go a week without my chorizo fix. All the varieties in between are often found in my fridge too. There is something luxurious yet homely about pork and creating a neighbourhood restaurant dedicated to it seems to me like a brilliant idea.

The eatery opened in 2013, previously it was a much-loved traditional eels and mash place called Clarks. Many of the building’s original features have remained intact and give the main room a lovely retro feel. I visited with a group of friends on a Thursday evening. We had called a few days earlier to book a table, and been made to feel rather fortunate for managing to secure one. We squashed into a very tight booth, and sipped the lukewarm house white whilst catching up.

Between us we tried an assortment of meaty dishes, luckily my friends are not vegetarians but there is one dish (Mega-nut burger) for those avoiding meat. Whipped Lardo on sourdough toast was a devilishly tasty start, especially paired with the finest fennel salami. Main courses were mighty and magnificent. I loved the Spare-Rib Steak, an extremely tender piece of pork marinaded in fennel seeds, garlic and cayenne, well paired with the Blackfoot pepper sauce. Another popular choice on our table was the richly flavoured Long Smoke, the whole belly smoked in applewood chip with a Sichuan pepper, black treacle and star anise crust, cooked low and slow for six hours, carved and served with pecan coleslaw and pickles. Taking it to the next level is the Love me Tender, a rack of ribs ‘just the way Elvis would have wanted’, they were slathered in a wincingly sweet Southern BBQ sauce but were wonderfully easy to pull off the bone. There is always something very satisfying about picking apart ribs and finding the fleshy goodness.

Desserts don’t let up on the calories – if you are going to try one to share, go for Peanut butter and bacon semi-freddo which is a tasty mix of sweet, salty and nutty. I also liked the homemade chocolate eclair, which arrived dripping in melted dark chocolate and stuffed full of freshly whipped vanilla cream. Lemon sorbet with pink fizz is a good option if you feel like something light and palate cleansing.

Blackfoot is reasonably priced and ideal for a fun night out with friends, particularly good for greedy little piggies like me.

More information here:

Things to do in Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the most popular short-break destinations for Brits. Short travelling time, reasonably priced city, plenty of culture, food and sunshine to enjoy. I have been desperate to write about the Catalan capital for a while now and when I did finally spend a weekend there I had an endless list of must try things to do, see, eat and experience. In three days I dashed to every corner of Barcelona to bring you this varied and fun directory of my favourite things to do.


Mercer Hotel – tucked away in the atmospheric and historic Gothic quarter this hotel is removed from the main tourist streets. There is a luxurious sense of calm and cool inside the grand building. Stylish and minimalist design-led rooms are blissfully comfortable, the rooftop terrace bar and pool is heaven on a hot day and the restaurant downstairs serves seasonal fine dining.
Generator Hotel/Hostel – this affordable option is on the outskirts of central Barcelona. Always full of passionate travellers Generator is a perfect combination of character and comfort. Share a room with fellow guests in the hostel or enjoy the privacy of a hotel room complete with private bathroom and balcony.


La Pepita – tired and hungry this little venue was ideal for a first-night quick meal. With long opening hours La Pepita is great for a snack any time of day. Enjoy a glass of cava and a selection of tasty tapas.
Cornelia & Co – this NYC inspired deli-café is perfect place to pick up picnic supplies, or pop in for a morning croissant and fresh juice. The chic canteen-style design is a pleasure to be surrounded by.
La Boqueria – a favourite with tourists, this large public market in the centre of town is a landmark in Barcelona. Offering a wide range of edible goods I recommend wandering round and quenching your thirst with an exotic fresh pressed juice.
Caelis – an elegant Michelin starred restaurant serving inventive cuisine by Chef Romain Fornell. Try the speciality sharing dessert, “Explosion St. Honore”, a dish to remember.
Tickets – simply the hottest ticket in town. If you are blessed with good luck you may find yourself sitting at this wacky tapas restaurant by prestigious chef Ferran Adria. The famous foodie applies his avant-garde creative and unconventional ideas to create a menu that is both delicious and thrilling.
Caravelle – this trendy café is known to make the best brunch place in town. The minimalist little venue is reminiscent of East London hang-outs, with guests tapping away on macs and shovelling the baked eggs into their mouths enthusiastically.
Cañete – an upmarket and fashionable tapas bistro for those in the know. Cañete serves up a taste of old Spain, I couldn’t fault the food. Always busy, it is best to go along at opening time to ensure you get a table. Sit at the bar so you can see the chefs at work, food envy is inevitable so best to order as you go.
Bacoa- Burgers are increasingly popular in Barcelona and this outlet is the place to try them. Now with several branches Bacoa is never too far away. The team use the best meat grilled to juicy perfection, homemade bread and irresistibly creamy sauces, we shared one burger and wished instantly we had got one each!


La Donuteria – If you can bear to leave the traditional churros snack behind, visit this new sweet-tooth heaven for a donut.
La Cova Fumada – the tapas bar with no name, this scruffy traditional eatery is found nearby to the beach, 56 Carrer del Baluart and is always full with local workers. Said to be the birthplace of the spicy potato bomba it is the best place to try this delicious Spanish specialty.
Eyescream and Friends – ice-cream doesn’t get much friendlier than this. Located near the main Barceloneta beach Eyescream and Friends serves animated homemade ice-cream with toppings of your choice. These need to be seen to be believed.


Satan’s Coffee Corner – now relocated to a bigger venue this coffee place was set up by Marcos Bartolome, who saw a gap in the market serving truly great coffee in Barcelona. Local and visiting caffeine addicts flock to the chic corner café to get their fix and sit in lovely light room.
Nomad – this lab and shop in El Born is for coffee fanatics and devotees. Known for offering the best coffee in Barcelona the Nomad boys use a wonderfully balanced blend… the flat white here was one of the best I’ve tried.
Sirvent – selling the locally loved drink horchata, Sirvent is an institution in Barcelona. Horchata is a unique blend of tigernuts, water and sugar and is a refreshing creamy drink. Family run since 1920 Sirvent often has a long queue of parched customers in summer, each clutching a paper numbered ticket ready to be served.
Barcelo Raval – a glamorous 360 rooftop bar with a lovely relaxed vibe, and spectacular panoramic views of the entire city. Not as well-known as the more popular W Hotel this bar is less busy and consequently much more pleasant for an sundowners drink.
Dry Martini - opened in 1978 and has remained the top place to drink fine cocktail in Barcelona. Owned and created by barman legend Javier de las Muelas this bar is a homage to the celebrated Dry Martini.
Negroni - a small and discreet little bar which barely has a sign indicating its whereabouts, and inside there is no menu to choose from. Sit on the high stools and chat to the experienced mixologist about your preference of flavour and ingredients and minutes later your perfect drink will be placed in front of you.
El Mariachi – this hidden away secret bar in the Gothic area is impossible to find but worth looking for. Manu Chao is sometimes seen jamming here, but if he’s not in the house there will often be other talented musicians entertaining the crowd. Drinks are reasonably priced, but beware there are no English speakers here.


Camp Nou – visit this iconic football stadium and museum to get to grips with the history of Spanish history. See the luscious green pitch where the world’s best players illustrate the beautiful game. We enjoyed an in depth tour with a knowledgeable guide, even I left humming the familiar Barcelona FC fan song.
Fundacio Joan Miro – located on the Montjuic hill this impressive white modern museum honours the work of Joan Miro, a 20th Century Catalan artist. I particularly loved the selection of outdoor sculptural work which are arranged with amazing views of the city as a backdrop.
Recinte Modernista – The Modernista Sant Pau Complex was built between 1905 and 1930 and designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner as a garden city for nursing the sick. Recently Renovated this incredible collection of buildings is now partially reopened allowing the public to admire the beautiful architecture and design.
Barceloneta beach – when the heat gets too much the Spaniards head to the beach. It is a rare treat to have the seaside so close to the city centre so take advantage of the cool blue waters and fight for your place on the sand. Nearby bars and restaurants provide sustenance when you get peckish, or buy a fresh mojito on the beach.


Picasso Museum -  this lovely museum houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. After paying your dues in the queue wander round and pick your favourite painting from the unrivalled selection.
Els Encants flea market - In a startling mirrored open-sided complex near Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes, the ‘Old Charms’ flea market is the biggest of its kind in Barcelona. Over 500 vendors sell antique furniture, second-hand clothes and other random bits and bobs.
Pink Peony – this adorable little salon gave us a chance to recuperate and relax, for a blissful 2 hours we let the attentive staff pamper our feet and hands. Located very centrally on the famous shopping street Passeig de Gracia, this small salon opened in 2008, the perfect place for shoppers to stop for a beauty break.
La Sagrada Familia – easily the most famous landmark in Barcelona La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi is a challenge to get into but you’ll regret it if you don’t make the effort. I would advise to book tickets online before you go so you don’t waste time in the queue. Inside the large psychedelic Roman Catholic church is even more remarkable than the exterior. The quirky design, multi-coloured stained glass windows and the terrifyingly tall towers are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.


Colmado Quilmez – dating back to 1908 this old-school grocery has a spectacular range of local and international food and drink products. Make sure you check out the unrivalled selection of bottled waters, there are over 200 brands to choose from!
Les Topettes – a dinky, daintily designed shop with a range of lovely perfume brands from around the globe, beautifully packaged soaps and scented candles. I particularly loved the fragrances from Madrid-based perfume house Oliver & Co.
Chandal – Can I please live here? I loved it all…  a fabulous retro concept store stocking retro stationery, books, cameras, toys, t-shirts and much more. A whole load of things you don’t need, but desperately want.
Fantastik – this mad and magical shop stocks imported items from around the world. Here you can buy brilliantly kitsch décor to add some character and colour to your home… Chinese thermos flasks, Mexican virgins, plastic pandas from Japanese and photos of Indian hairstyles from the 70s.
Vincon – an expansive design emporium on the main street Passeig de Gracia Vincon spans two floors and holds a huge collection of aesthetically pleasing furniture and homeware. At the back the small gallery Sala Vincon showcases intriguing exhibitions.
Oriol Balaguer – where chocolate and design meet. Oriol Balaguer is an award-winning chocolatier and he is renowned in Spain. In his bijou Barcelona store in Barrio Alto presents the fine sweets, pastries, cakes and mousses in a beautifully decadent way. Go along in the morning for an indulgent pain au chocolat.
Holala! – this is vintage heaven, with a handpicked selection of vintage clothes and furniture from USA, Japan and EU. Pick up a second-hand Ralph Lauren shirt, neon sports shorts or a retro pinafore to add to your wardrobe.

Many thanks to the Barcelona Tourist Board for their help with this trip, more information here.

Chris Kenny, 50 Books

Collage artist Chris Kenny has taken over the windows of the cult Hoxton bookshop, the BOOKARTBOOKSHOP, with a collection of miniature book-sculptures constructed from, and inspired by, found titles and images. These poetic little objects touch on themes of love and longing, art and science, mortality and the search for meaning. They range in tone from the jokey to the melancholic to the caustic.

Also on show, inside the shop, is a mini-retrospective of Chris Kenny’s limited editions from the last twenty years (on sale for between £5 and £30) with such titles as The Pocket Book of Phallic Symbols, Eating and Being Eaten, and You are part of a divine pudding.

Opening this evening and running until 4th October.


17 Pitfield Street

12th September to 4th October 2014
Wed-Fri 1-7pm Sat 12-6pm

in conjunction with England & Co

Palomar, Soho

Every week there is a new must-try restaurant in London, and the Soho area has more than its fair share of these. On the edge of this popular district is Palomar, a new eatery serving delicacies from Jerusalem. The restaurant is full of character and charisma, with mad, musical waiters behind the bar, and a menu of tasty unusual dishes.

If you can, sit at the 16-seat bar to appreciate the eccentricity of the staff’s daily performance (rhythmic pan banging along to the music and dancing whilst cooking). Our waiter Eyal (they are all named on the menu) posed for photos and was extremely helpful and fun. We took his recommendations seriously as my knowledge of Israeli food is not up to scratch, and ordered many of the established favourites. The speciality ‘Polenta Jerusalem style’ with asparagus, mushroom ragout, parmesan and truffle oil was a gooey delight, creamy wet polenta with a woody collection of ingredients – we polished it off in no time.

Whilst sipping one of the exotic Garden of Eden cocktails, I observed the activity around me, the plates are prepared at super speed behind the bar, while friends chat loudly and relish the thrilling cuisine. You must try the hot challah bread, it is sensational; the staff plop it out from its moulded tin straight onto the plate, a bouncy, sweet sort of brioche that you can tear off and dunk in the dip. Towards the front of the venue, the neon illuminated Raw Bar carefully prepares all the uncooked dishes, pretty and healthy. Though we didn’t try these, I’ve heard the Salmon Tartare with Aubergine two ways is unmissable.

The Daily 6 is a tempting offer of assorted meze, but we opted for dishes from the main menu. My favourite was the Deconstructed kebab (Shakshukit) with minced meat, yoghurt, tahini, ‘the 4 tops’ and Yaeli’s pita. The crumbly meat was marinated in a rich mix of spices with a contrasting cool yoghurt. The tahini sauce was a little bitter drizzled over the top and I would have preferred it without. Pork Belly Tagine with Ras el Hanout, dried apricots and Israeli couscous is an impressively rich and sweet concoction, the meat is caramelised and melts in the mouth, surrounded by pearly grains and a handful of fresh coriander.

We omitted desserts, but I was tempted by the Chocolate Cremeux – puffed rice crunch, pomegranate coulis, cocoa tuile and almond strusel, it sounds like a devilishly indulgent invention.

Down a dark and dingy London street, Palomar glows with hope and happiness, the pink sign encourages guests to come in… and once you are seated you’ll never want to leave.

More information here:

Hot on the Highstreet Week 225

Courtesy Vogue we have a sneak preview of the newest highstreet collaboration, Alexander Wang for H&M. As always with Wang, colour is non-existent, everything is super-sporty, in hues of black, white and grey.

Lots of pieces look like they have been pulled directly from Wang’s past collections, like the classic white dress or the hooded black coat, which resembles a pre-Autumn 2014 look. The line is scheduled to hit stores on November 6th…. I cannot wait.

See more here.

House of Ho, Soho

When people ask me where they should eat in London I normally tell them to head to Soho. Here one finds a cross section of the best restaurants in London and almost every cuisine you could imagine represented. Last week I headed to House of Ho, Bobby Chinn’s exotic and sexy restaurant which offers a modern twist on traditional Vietnamese food.

The exterior is dark and mysterious with just the open air tables offering a clue as to the food and atmosphere inside. The design is simple; the food and drinks demand all the attention. Groups of friends and couples cluster around the unusually shaped restaurant in cosy dimly lit corners. We were seated at a lovely better lit table by the open window, I loved observing the manic Soho life outside.

The cocktails are exciting and feature a range of intriguing Asian ingredients. The Ho’rny Devil was a divine mix of lemongrass vodka, chilli infused vodka, coconut water and lemongrass syrup served in a martini glass with a coconut rim, the ultimate beachside drink. I also loved the Saigon Sour made with mint Bourbon, crème de peche, agave nectar, pomelo and rhubarb bitters,  a recent creation inspired by the musical Miss Saigon.

The House of Ho food menu is split into different sections depending on cooking method: grilled, wok tossed, fried, steamed, braised. The dishes are all served as small plates, three plates are recommended per person. The food is beautifully presented in original ceramic vessels, incredibly photogenic particularly in the natural light. It is lovely to have a variety to share rather than picking only one dish, and gives a much more eclectic range of flavours. Our favourites included the tender cubes of Shaking Beef which were soft and velvety inside but crispy and salty on the outside, Lemongrass Chicken in sticky sweet caramel sauce and Smokey Chilli glazed chicken wings which were piping hot and covered in a wonderfully fragrant marinade. I was pleased to discover, despite usually disliking fish, that I loved the Vietnamese 7 spice marinated squid, which was light and perfectly seasoned. Morning Glory is a great green addition tossed in shallot oil and scattered with crispy garlic.

There are so many savoury delights to keep you occupied and I rarely crave dessert after Asian food, but if you do need something sweet, the lemon scented crème brulee would be my recommendation. Rich and creamy, it is a satisfying treat. We finished with a calming and cleansing cup of fresh mint tea.

Ideally located near to Theatreland, House of Ho offers the perfect pre-theatre menu for those heading to a show. Choose three dishes from the Taste of Ho menu for £19.50 or from the Showstopping Ho for £23.50.

House of Ho is an eclectic and vibrant restaurant in the heart of buzzing Soho, ideal for an exotic cocktail or an indulgent Vietnamese feast.

More information and book here.

Cocktails in Barcelona

Barcelona’s cocktail scene is varied and fun… underground speakeasies or rooftop bars, late night drinking and infectious music, the night life never ends. Though wine and sangria are the most familiar alcoholic beverages in Catalan’s capital, cocktails are increasingly popular, particularly the classic recipes. Though molecular and gastronomic cocktail artistry has not yet taken hold in this city there are still plenty of talented mixologists working their magic behind bars. As a cocktail snob I searched out the very best Barcelona has to offer… it is purely coincidence that my three top cocktail bars are all named after a famous concoction!

Dry Martini opened in 1978 and has remained the top place to drink fine cocktail in Barcelona. Owned and created by barman legend Javier de las Muelas this bar is a homage to the celebrated Dry Martini. Housed in a 1970s apartment block the venue is gloriously old-fashioned and luxurious inside. White jacketed men are cool and calm behind the bar, expertly pouring and mixing in a precise cheographed routine. A electronic board records the number of Dry Martini’s ordered, it reached 1 million quite recently and they celebrated in style. Earlier on in the evening civilised guests sit in the plush leather sofas enjoying a quiet, perfectly mixed drink, later once dinner has finished the speakeasy fills with locals and tourists in the know. We tried a variety of sublime drinks, fruity varieties and sour-sweet combinations, finishing with a strong, crystal-clear martini, topped of course with an green olive.

Gimlet is run by the Dry Martini company and offers a similar menu of twisted classics. The décor is simple and understated with a retro vibe, sitting at the bar I felt like I’d gone back in time. Suited and booted barmen serve immaculate drinks. We tried a traditional Negroni and a more adventurous concoction based on the class Negroni, both were delicious. Located in the lovely El Born area this cocktail bar has unbeatable drinks and an easy-going atmosphere.

Negroni is a small and discreet little bar which barely has a sign indicating its whereabouts, and inside there is no menu to choose from. The moody black interiors are accented with flashes of red and bottles of liquor glow behind the bar. Sit on the high stools and chat to the experienced mixologist about your preference of flavour and ingredients and minutes later your perfect drink will be placed in front of you. Our bartender exhibited creativity and flair in equal measure whipping up deliciously strong and unique cocktails, priced very reasonably.

Many thanks to the Barcelona Tourist Board for their help with this trip, more information here.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Street food at Lanes of London, Mayfair

Street food is a big deal on the capital’s foodie horizon, as vans selling hotdogs, burgers, and other artisanal efforts have been popping up across London in recent years. Lanes of London have decided to launch their own interpretation of street food, with the pleasing twist of having these “small dishes” represent the many international cuisines present in London’s culinary landscape. Among the six my intrepid companion and I sampled (yes, we felt greedy), we had Indian, Persian, Asian fusion and the good old US of A represented on plates, and many were delicious. Highlight of the meal were the beef brisket sliders with roasted bone marrow and horseradish cream – be prepared to order another round, they were that succulent and flavourful. The sliders are pictured above with the sweet smoky duck hash and fried egg, which also hit some delightful flavour notes, although tested the definition of ‘street food’ – it is served in a hot skillet, which I for one would be unwilling to carry around, regardless of how delicious its contents. The salad of green papaya, chilli, pork, prawns and peanuts, as well as being an alliterative pleasure to say, was a culinary pleasure to eat, and a textural pleasure to crunch. In fact it looks so appetising as it arrives that unfortunately we cannot offer any photos of that particular dish. Our apologies, dear reader. Other arrivals at our table included the token vegetable dish of salt-baked pumpkin with goat’s cheese and black quinoa, lamb koftas paired suitably with smoked aubergine, and a particularly well-balanced samosa chat, both in terms of its spicing, and how it perched atop chickpeas, mint chutney and yoghurt, finished with an artful sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. The relationship of powerful flavours in the latter in particular was well-marshalled by the kitchen, and served up beautifully.

As we had dined so greedily, we thought it only right to order dessert in matching style. Although I would have considered it blasphemy to think that anything might top the sliders, “home made jammie dodgers” did. The home baked shortbread was crumbling and buttery, the strawberry jam’s sweetness cut with just enough homemade strawberry liqueur, with fresh strawberries & cream included, because why not. Our second dessert (all this, of course, we do to inform you on as much of the menu as possible) was a chocolate torte with clotted cream ice cream, which was rich and glossy with an absolute guarantee of a nap 40 minutes after finishing. Although William Sitwell might rant against the rectangular black board on which the torte arrives, even he would struggle to find much wrong with the taste. As is often the case with hotel restaurants, the atmosphere was not buzzing, but that’s what interesting friends are for. The food arriving at your table, however, may well leave you silently admiring it.

More information and book a table here:

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, James Bomford.

Generator Hotel, Barcelona

Weekend breaks in Europe can be just as expensive as a longer international holiday, so locating cheap chic accommodation is a blessing. The Generator Hostels brand is gradually expanding, providing young travellers with a thrifty lodging option in Europe’s best cities. The flagship establishment, Generator Barcelona, combines both hostel and hotel offering the very best in Catalan style and culture to its visitors at affordable prices.

Located in Barcelona’s trendy district of Eixample, Generator offers private hotel rooms with en-suite bathrooms and shared hostel dormitories. There is everything you need on site: a 24-hour reception, free private lockers and free Wi-Fi in public areas and private rooms. There is air conditioning and heating throughout to allow for diverse weather conditions, as well as individual power sockets and reading lamps for each bed. Female-only dormitories thoughtfully include magazines, hairdryers and other amenities. The eclectic and colourful communal areas are lovely spaces to eat, drink, work and chat.

Those interested in sightseeing will be pleased to know that Diagonal and Verdaguer metro stations are within five minutes walk. The Gràcia district, which has a multitude of boutiques and bars, is also just a short walk away. We enjoyed fine tapas at nearby restaurant La Pepita, and if you are peckish at night try the 24 hour churros outlet Xurreria Trebol.

In our 7th floor hotel room we found everything we needed for a very comfortable stay,I completely forgot I was in a hostel. The en suite bathroom had a small shower, sink, mirror, toilet and toiletries bag and the walls were covered in ornate tiling. The bed was made up in soft linen with plump pillows and an attractive rug hung on the wall above. Thick dressing gowns were folded at the foot of the bed for us to use. Outside we had a little private terrace with a lounger, perfect for soaking up the summer sun.

Guests can have a fresh daily breakfast at extra cost. Generator Hostel Barcelona also has a communal lounge with computers available for rent and a luggage storage service.

The décor in the main reception is reminiscent of festival celebrations with hundreds of paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling and patterned arrangements on the walls. The look and sound is all about fun and everywhere you look people are enjoying themselves, so obviously Generator is doing something right!

More information and book here.

Many thanks to the Barcelona Tourist Board for their help with this trip, more information here.

Hot on the Highstreet Week 224

Is September too early to start a Christmas wish list? When I do write one, Poplin pyjamas will be at the top.

Poplin was founded by Lucy Guinness to offer sophisticated women lounge/sleepwear that would perfectly blend function and form – letting them look and feel amazing.

After graduating from Oxford, Lucy won a scholarship to study History of Fashion at London’s Courtauld Institute of Art. Deep in the fashion archives of famous museum collections, examining antique and vintage garments, she found inspiration to develop a contemporary line of pieces that would be worn and loved until they were old and threadbare.

In 2010 her sense of adventure led her to live in India; she now divides her time between Bombay and London. Poplin pyjamas combine Lucy’s love of fashion and travel, the perfect tailored suit to sleep in whilst away from home.

I love the neon trimmed classic pyjamas and the luxurious silky bridal PJs that come complete with a hand-embroidered monogram.

Beautifully tailored and timeless, a pair of Poplin pyjamas will ensure you are in style night and day.

Prices start from £100.

More information and buy here: