Kricket, White City

Kricket is, without a doubt, one of my favourite Indian restaurants in London. The company, founded by college friends Rik Campbell and Will Bowlby, all began as a pop-up in a tiny shipping container at Pop Brixton. The demand far outweighed the space and soon they had permanent venues in Soho and Brixton. Now, three years since their first venue opened, they are ready to take on West London, setting up a larger venue in the new White City Television Centre complex.

Kricket White City

The design at the 100-seater eatery is similar to the other branches, but feels more spacious, and also boasts a lovely outdoor area. I particularly loved the scalloped-edge red leather benches, and circular mirrors that add drama to the walls.

Kricket White City

The menu at Kricket White City is much longer than the other restaurants with more of a focus on larger plates. Taking advice from our enthusiastic waitress we opted for several dishes from each section, being careful not to omit my long-standing favourites Bhel Puri and Samphire Pakoras.

As usual, everything was en pointe, delicious and moreish. From the newbies, I can recommend the: Leek & potato paratha with nigella (a soft and flavoursome bread – perfect for soaking up all the excess sauces); Aloo gobi kofta, methi malai sauce, spiced brown butter, cauliflower leaf pickle (an Indian take on gnocchi with a perfectly buttery sauce); and Lamb raan, pomegranate, goats curd & mint raita, pink onions (indulgent, succulent meat with an assortment of piquant and sweet condiments).

Kricket White City

Unfortunately the freezer was broken when we visited so desserts were mostly not available. However, we did get to sample the ultra sweet but delicious Gulab jamun with carom seed crumble, these syrupy doughnut balls provided a very sugary kick at the end of our rich and indulgent lunch, and I’m sure they would be even tastier paired with the milk ice-cream.

West Londoners will delight at this new convenient White City venue, with a bigger menu that still features all the favourites, I have no doubt that the newest Kricket in the group will be an instant hit.

More information and book a table at Kricket White City here.

The Best Food in Lima, Peru

Lima may not be prettiest city to visit in South America, but Peru’s capital is one of the world’s leading culinary destinations, thanks to the abundance of fresh produce and the unique culture of fusion cooking. This year Lima was the only place to receive two spots on the World’s 50 Best top ten list, testament to the exemplary standard of cooking and the skill showcased in the restaurants here. Alongside the fine dining establishments Lima has a range of wonderful casual restaurants, offering fresh seafood, comforting stews and, of course, ceviche and cocktails. Here are my favourite culinary discoveries from Lima, when I visited on a foodie pilgrimage last month…

Lima Food

Fine Dining

Central – Imaginative and innovative in every sense of the word, Central is a food experience you will remember forever. The restaurant is the brainchild of culinary mastermind Virgilio Martínez, and has recently moved to a new home in the Barranco district. In the 16 course tasting menu each plate is inspired by a different altitude and microcosm of Peru. I barely recognised any of the ingredients on the list, and loved learning about the country through this spectacular and delicious menu. Virgilio and team have also just opened a new restaurant called Mil, outside Cusco.

Maido – This smart and stylish restaurant is renowned for its unrivalled Nikkei cuisine. Immaculately balancing the flavours of Peru with the cooking techniques of Japan, Lima-born chef Tsumura studied in the US and Japan before returning to Peru to open Maido. Highlights from the tasting menu include a fish hotdog, dim sum with squid and sea snail cau-cau, and sea urchin rice. I fell in love with the 50 Hour Slow Cooked Beef with Chaufa Rice.

Astrid & Gaston – Founded by Gastón Acurio, Astrid & Gaston has always been at the forefront of the Lima destination dining scene. Currently the restaurant is found at the palatial Casa Moreyra, a grand building with several dining rooms, each decorated with striking modern art. Either enjoy an intricate tasting menu by Head Chef (and rising star) Juan David Ocampoor or choose from the extensive a la carte menu. I highly recommend sampling the Guinea Pig xiao-long-bao.

Lima Food

Cooking Class

Belmond Miraflores Park – This luxury hotel is the perfect place to learn a little more about Peruvian cuisine. One of the chefs will accompany you to the local Surquillo market for a tour of the produce and speciality ingredients. Once you’ve collected what you need you’ll head back to the hotel for a ceviche cooking class on the rooftop. We combined citrus, onions, chilli, herbs and corn to make the ceviche dressing before adding in the raw white fish and topping with vibrant toppings.

Guests of Miraflores Park are also invited to join the nightly Pisco Sour masterclass with Andre in Belo Bar. This free event is a great way to try your hand at cocktail making and taste a range of Piscos.

Lima Food

Local Restaurants

El Mercado – This lively, fun restaurant in the Miraflores district is only open for lunch, and is always full of locals and tourists feasting on their ceviche and BBQ dishes. We sat at the bar and feasted on Suckling pig tacos, goat and lime bean mash, and deliciously smoky barbecued octopus. The El Mercado team have a second restaraurant called Rafael, which receives equally glowing reviews.

Tragaluz – Tragaluz is the main restaurant in the upmarket Miraflores Park Hotel. Inside the smart but colourful restaurant is decorated with wild murals by Lima artist Mateo Liébana, or you can sit outside at a patio table and admire the views of the lush Parque Domodossola and the sea in the distance. The kitchen present elegant International and Peruvian food, highlights on the menu include the Tragaluz steak and the mini tacos.

Isolina – Isolina is a typical traditional taberna, and Chef José del Castillo aims to please with the ultimate Peruvian comfort food. The simple decor is cosy and atmospheric, set in a historic house in Barranco. We enjoyed the warming beef short rib stew with rice and beans washed down with homemade lemonade.

Lima Food

Sweet Treats

Ana Avellana – If you are in need of a sugar boost in Lima Ana Avellana is the place to go. The little cafe has a charming interior, with comfy sofas and a cake display that would make anyone hungry. Don’t miss the decadent cheesecake and the amazing chocolate chip cookies.

Lima Food

Breakfast / Brunch

El Pan De La Chola – This bakery is internationally renowned for making the best bread and pastries in town. The chic venue is found in Miraflores, a coffee shop and cafe that is popular with everyone in the neighborhood, from businessmen to fashionistas. We stopped by for breakfast on our first day in Lima and enjoyed Stumpy coffees (a bit bigger than a Cortado) and absolutely delicious croissant and pan au chocolats… flaky, buttery and irresistable. I’d also highly recommend the avocado on toast.

La Panetteria – This fantastic local bakery is in the heart of the bohemian Barranco district. The cute cafe serves good coffee and great breakfast and brunch. Stop by for a morning croissant or a sandwich at lunchtime.

Colonia & Co – Colonia & Co is a homely cafe that serves brunch plates and brilliant coffee. The small artistic space is a lovely place to spend the morning in Barranco, order a flat whites and the homemade brioche French toast.

Lima food

Coffee

Milimetrica Espresso Bar – Milimetrica opened in Lima in 2017, a coffee mecca for caffeine lovers. The cycling coffee shop, precisely weigh the beans to create a coffee that is to exacting standards. The tasty coffee beans are from Cajamarca, growing 1,800 meters above sea level. The two varieties they use are Caturra and Bourbon, which are both very fruity and fragrant.

Neira Cafe Lab – This speciality coffee shop in Miraflores is a project by barista Harryson Neira. The coffee lab uses high quality Peruvian beans to make it’s deliciously rich tropical tasting coffee. Stop by for an espresso or a pour over coffee.

Cafe Verde – Cafe Verde may not look like much from the outside, but this small corner shop cafe is definitely worth a visit. Husband and wife team (K.C and Tatiana) opened Café Verde in 2007 with the aim of exporting green coffee beans and championing an ecological ethos behind the coffee they sell. The coffee is creamy and addictive and the cafe has a relaxed feel.

I was a guest of Belmond Miraflores Park, more information and book a stay at the hotel here.

The Trip of a Lifetime on the Belmond Hiram Bingham Train to Macchu Picchu

A trip to Macchu Picchu is a must in any Peru itinerary, this incredible Inca site is found high in the Andes Mountains, a few hours from Cusco. I was lucky enough to make the pilgrimage with Belmond, who transport guests through the sacred valley to this world wonder on their Hiram Bingham train.

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The Macchu Picchu day trip is just one of the train journeys Belmond operate in Peru, with other trips exploring larger regions and offering overnight accommodation on board. The name honours American explorer Hiram Bingham, who discovered Macchu Picchu in 1911 with the help of local indigenous farmers.

We met the train at Poroy Station, a short taxi ride from Cusco, and were greeted with glasses of champagne and music from local musicians. The luxury train encapsulates 1920s style, the elegant booths and gleaming wood panelling immediately transport you back to a glamorous bygone era.

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The journey included a seasonal three course brunch with Peruvian wine. Each dish had been chosen to showcase Peruvian ingredients and cooking techniques. Highlights included a Grilled Beef Steak with mashed potatoes and an intriguing but delicious corn cheesecake with elderberry sauce.

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As we travelled further through the dramatic Peruvian landscape many of the guests walked through to the final observation car, where an open air carriage serves drinks and live music is played by the resident band. We sang along to the Beatles and Radiohead as the full bar sipped on Pisco Sours.

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After three hours we reached our destination, Aguas Calientes station. Our tour guide for the day was Carlos, one of the knowledgeable and enthusiastic Belmond staff. The detailed three hour tour of Machu Picchu was thorough and insightful, we learnt about its history as well as noticing small details about which Carlos offered his own brilliant theories. We were lucky to have bright sunshine and the surroundings were just as awe-inspiring as Macchu Picchu itself.

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After examining every inch of the historic site, we headed for a final afternoon tea at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge at the foot of the Inca site. We enjoyed a luxurious array of sweet and savoury treats, along with soothing tea.

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When we returned to reality in Cusco, we stayed at the atmospheric Belmond Hotel Monasterio. This beautiful hotel is found in the centre of the town, near to all the main sights and restaurants. We were in room 436, a lavish junior suite decorated in regal shades of red and gold.

If you are in need of further TLC, head to Belmond Palacio Nazarenas in Cusco where guests can have afternoon tea in the Secret Garden with sandwiches, cakes and tea tasting. The spa at this hotel is also unmissable, a tranquil retreat with very comfortable treatment rooms and experienced therapists. The detox oil used in my massage used local herbs – the munia, eucalyptus and mint flavours help ease jetlag and altitude sickness.

While in Cusco, I would recommend visiting the Cathedral and San Pedro Market, having a meal at Cicciolina and stopping for coffee at Three Monkeys.

More information about the Hiram Bingham Train and other Belmond properties here.