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21st Birthday!

So a million years after everyone else, I finally turned 21 last week! I was really rather excited for this birthday because I was going for afternoon tea and to the theatre to see Wicked with my mum, which I’ve wanted to do for so long! I was still living in London, so woke up to some lovely presents and felt very loved, lucky, and slightly sick from all the chocolate and fudge I’d eaten by 10am πŸ˜› After a bit of a wander in Ruskin Park, we returned home and I was surprised with Wiggles the Caterpillar Cake! I don’t think I’ve eaten one for many years and it was definitely the best cake to celebrate my 21st with πŸ˜‰

In the afternoon, I met up with my mum and we headed to the Sheraton Park Lane hotel for our afternoon tea at 3pm!

We were greeted immediately and shown to our table. From the pictures online I was expecting the Palm Court to be a lot bigger, not just a few tables on each side with a walkway down the middle! It was also a bit distracting since the hotel’s guests kept walking behind me to get to another part of the hotel. But there was a lovely harpist who played throughout our tea, which heightened the experience!

There were five tables taking afternoon tea and we were given our menus by a friendly waiter who returned shortly with a complimentary glass of champagne each to celebrate my graduation! No idea how they found out about me graduating, but that’s probably the power of the internet and it being plastered all over my Twitter! Nonetheless, it was a lovely and unexpected touch πŸ™‚

As I don’t drink tea, I was able to order a hot chocolate instead, whilst my mum had English Breakfast Tea (how exciting I know… πŸ˜‰ ). Our sandwiches were all pre-made and waiting to be served as they came out very speedily. The food wasn’t served on a tier like other afternoon teas as everything came out separately. I didn’t really mind to be honest as it’s the same food however it comes out! Our sandwiches consisted of:

– Roast beef, wild rocket, and wasabi mayonnaise on white bread
– Roasted Scottish salmon, dill, and lemon on basil bread
– Free range egg, creme fraiche, and mixed sakura cress on carrot bread
– Salt and pepper corn-fed chicken, celery, and mustard mayonnaise on a mini
ciabbatta roll
– Cream cheese and chive, cucumber, baby watercress on granary bread

Sandwiches

They were all quite tasty but nothing really stood out that much. We had one of each and were offered another plate to share between us, which we quickly accepted! At this point, we noticed that we still hadn’t received our drinks and saw that a lot of other tables were still waiting on their tea too. It’s a bit silly calling it afternoon tea when there isn’t actually any tea being served with it πŸ˜‰

Our plates were then cleared and we were presented with four scones (two plain and two raisin) which were wrapped in a cloth to keep them warm, although ours came cold which was a bit of a shame (but was probably because I’d been talking so much that they’d cooled down πŸ˜› ). There was clotted cream and a selection of preserves which included rhubarb jam, gooseberry jam, and some lemony cream thing. The scones were smaller than I was expecting, but that was probably a good thing since at this point I was definitely feeling slightly sick from all the food I’d eaten so far! Our tea and hot chocolate also arrived whilst we were having our scones and the waiters poured them out for us which was a nice touch.

After we had finished our scones, we were shown a selection of five different pastries and could either choose two each or one of each to share between the two of us. My mum has never really had much of a sweet tooth and said that I could choose and eat most of them, so I went for one of each!


Afternoon tea!

I can’t remember what exactly each of them were but I started off with a pistachio tasting pastry which wasn’t that amazing and tasted a bit like jelly or set custard.

Pistachio cake

The chocolate cake was next, which was probably my least favourite since it was really dark chocolate and I’ve never been a fan. It was also very rich!

Chocolate cake

I then had something fruity in a small glass. Unfortunately, I haven’t got a clue what it was!

The mini fruit tart was next and it was decorated with lots of nice looking fruits πŸ™‚

Fruit tart

I think I saved the best until last since the raspberry cake was light and very tasty!

Raspberry cake

The lights suddenly dimmed and I noticed that the harpist was playing Happy Birthday. I turned round and saw a waitress approaching with a tart topped with a candle πŸ™‚ It was all rather embarrassing but nice!

There was meant to be a second afternoon tea sitting at 4:30, but it was already nearing 5pm and there weren’t really any new guests, so we weren’t rushed in the slightest πŸ™‚ We had used Avios vouchers so didn’t have to pay a thing! All the waiters and waitresses were lovely and friendly and I even received a Tweet from the hotel hoping that I was enjoying myself πŸ˜› The only bad things would be that the tea could have been served more promptly and that it was a bit strange having other hotel guests walking past me all the time, but I still enjoyed myself πŸ˜€

After leaving the hotel completely stuffed, we were in need of a bit of a wander and rest! We headed to Green Park and chilled out for a while since Wicked didn’t start until 7:30.

I’d never been to the theatre before so I really wanted to go to see whether I would enjoy it. I also managed to tick off another thing on my Things To Do Before I’m 30! When we got to the Apollo Theatre it was very busy and we were sitting in seats M 16 and 17. I hadn’t realised that we would be so close to the stage! I was sat in the aisle so had a completely unrestricted view of the whole stage which was amazing! My mum didn’t fare quite so well since the man in front of me kept leaning over and talking to his wife the whole time! When Wicked started with a big song and dance, I was a bit unsure whether I’d actually like it, but literally within a minute, the whole stage was lit up and I was mesmerised by it all! Wicked was absolutely amazing and I was truly sucked into the story. Now I’ll have to decide which theatre production I want to see next!!

Palm Court Lounge on Urbanspoon

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Sanderson Hotel’s Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea

I was lucky enough to be invited to my cousin’s hen party yesterday and we headed for afternoon tea at the Sanderson Hotel! I was extra excited because I’d never been to a hen party before and because I’ve wanted to go for afternoon tea for ages! Another thing to tick off my list of Things To Do Before I’m 30! I’m seriously whizzing through them this month!!

Sanderson Hotel do a Mad Hatter’s afternoon tea which is pretty cool and one that I’ve always wanted to try. There was seating outside which looked quite nice, but we were all very thankful to be sat inside with the air-con as it was a very humid and sticky day! Our napkins had riddles written on the piece of paper holding them together, and all the plates and saucers were different with joining up designs.

We were given the menu and a selection of four teas to smell (apple pie, strawberries and cream, rhubarb and custard, and chocolate and mint) and were also offered normal teas to chose from. I don’t normally like tea that much but the tea leaves smelt amazing and I could have sat there sniffing the pot all day long, so I tried the strawberries and cream tea. All of us felt that they were a bit watery, but a sugar cube definitely improved it πŸ™‚

A while later, we were presented with our massive tier of food! It all looked incredible and definitely too good to eat! The waiter was trying to explain what everything was, but it literally went in one ear and out the other! So I’ve grabbed the menu off their website πŸ˜‰

Savoury:
– Smoked Cumbrian ham with wholegrain mustard on sundried tomato bread
– Cucumber and chive cream cheese on spinach bread
– Cold smoked salmon and lemon butter on dark rye bread
– Egg mayo with watercress and smoked sea salt on lemon bread
– Daily quiche (ours was courgette)

Sweet:
– Carrot meringue served on a bed of pea shoots
– Strawberries and cream homemade marshmallow mushrooms
– Tick tock traditional Victoria sponge
– Melting mango cheesecake
– Matcha green tea and white chocolate mousse served in a chocolate tea cup
– ‘Drink me’ potion

Scones:
– Cheese scones
– Raisin scones
– Herb butter and fruit preserves with clotted cream

So delicious!

So delicious!

I started with the sandwiches and chose the cold smoked salmon and lemon butter on dark rye bread which looked suspiciously like a chocolate mini roll! I think out of the four sandwiches, my favourite was the smoked Cumbrian ham with wholegrain mustard on sundried tomato bread. I didn’t think I’d like the mustard part but I couldn’t taste it and the bread was definitely the highlight! The other sandwiches were all very nice too and were a nice combination πŸ™‚

Sandwiches and quiche

Sandwiches and quiche

The scones were pretty mini, but it’s probably a good thing that they were since I was already quite full from just the savoury stuff!! Unfortunately they came cold, but they were still very tasty and not that crumbly when I cut into them πŸ˜€ I’m a sucker for clotted cream and jam so slathered mine in it hah!

Scones

Scones

I have a severe sweet tooth, so I definitely saved the best until last! I went for the ‘Drink me’ potion which everyone loved and seemed to taste a bit passionfruity. Shame it was so small as I could have probably drunk a whole litre! The Victoria Sponge was very soft and moist and definitely one of my favourites! I was a bit unsure about the matcha green tea and white chocolate mousse at first, but I could hardly taste the green tea and the mousse was so lovely and fluffy. The others said that the cheesecake was really tasty, but quite sickly, so I left that until last. It tasted amazing! I love cheesecake anyway, so when you combine it with mango (another one of my favourite things), then you’re definitely on to a winner! The cheesecake was encased in a white chocolate decoration and when you cut into the middle of the cheesecake, the mango part exploded and oozed temptingly all over the plate. I agreed that it was a bit sicky, but I loved it nonetheless!

Sweet treats!

Sweet treats!

The carrot meringue and strawberries and cream marshmallows were a nice touch and looked rather interesting at the top of the tier of food!

Carrot meringue and strawberries and cream marshmallows

Carrot meringue and strawberries and cream marshmallows

There was also a table with two jellies that we could help ourselves to. I think that they were apple and cherry flavoured and were quite grainy, and tasted almost like fruit puree or baby food! This was probably all our least favourite thing in the afternoon tea!

We were offered refills of the sandwiches and scones and were more than happy to accept even though we were all pretty stuffed! The scones came pretty swiftly, but the sandwiches took a while, so we had to remind them and then they ended up bringing out two sets! There were so many sandwiches! We weren’t able to eat them all, so we took a lot of food away with us.

At Β£38 per person plus 15% service charge, it is a bit pricey, but it is on par with a lot of other hotel afternoon teas. Since it was my first one and one that I’d always wanted to try, I didn’t mind and I had a lovely time with my cousin and meeting all her friends πŸ˜€ Shame the service was a bit casual and slightly slow though, but we all left very much stuffed and ready to head on and celebrate! I’m very much looking forward to my afternoon tea with my mum to celebrate my 21st birthday in just over a week!!

All of us

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Ristorante Gusto Pinto – Rome (Review)

Ristorante Gusto Pinto

On our second night in Rome, we decided to head to the Ristorante Gusto Pinto for dinner. It was right around the corner from our hotel and when I was reading Trip Advisor reviews for our hotel, the restaurant seemed to be mentioned several times as a place to try out! The restaurant is owned by a local recording artist which may explain the gold record on the wall!

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SAM_4202

We were greeted by a very friendly and efficient waiter who showed us to a comfy table in the corner. It was fairly quiet but still had a good atmosphere inside. The menu was very extensive and there were so many different dishes to try! I was debating whether to go for the Parpardelle Fisherman Mix or the fried calamari and shrimp as I was having a real craving for it. My mum suggested ordering the fried calamari and shrimp to share and I was more than happy to agree!

I always forget that in other European countries, people like to take their time and eat dinner over many hours. After a bit of a wait, our food came πŸ˜€ As said previously, I opted for the Pappardelle Fisherman Mix for €12 and we shared the fried calamari and shrimp for €14. My dad went for the Risotto Fisherman Mix for €12 and my mum opted for Escalope in White Wine for €11. All the dishes came nicely presented and my dad and I were both really pleased with the amount of different seafood! A lot of the time when I order a seafood pasta, I only get a few bits of mussel and prawn and am quite disappointed, but not this time! My pasta was full of mussels, prawns, scampi, and clams! It is always a bit of a faff de-shelling all the bits and pieces, but it was worth it as it was really tasty! Although, the scampi basically had no meat and was a weird black/brown colour so I left most of it.

SAM_4214

SAM_4216

The fried calamari and shrimp was lovely! Normally in England, you’d get some sort of mayo to go with it, but this really didn’t need it as the flavours were really tasty on their own πŸ™‚

Fried shrimp and calamari

Fried shrimp and calamari

As always, I tried I bit of my parents’ dishes too. My mum got three quite reasonably sized slices of pork escalope and it was decorated with bits of red cabbage and lettuce which made it look a lot prettier. My mum said that the wine tasted a bit weird though.

Escalope in White Wine

My dad basically got the risotto version of my dish minus the scampi for some reason, and it also tasted pretty decent!

Risotto Fisherman Mix

Risotto Fisherman Mix

The service was lovely and friendly and the total came to €60 including some drinks and €6 bread charge.

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Nom nom all gone!

Nom nom all gone!

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We normally like trying somewhere new for dinner each day, but after we’d looked round the nearby restaurants, we found that their menu was very limited and a lot more expensive too, so we decided to go back to Gusto Pinto as we’d all enjoyed it last night.

I was rather intrigued with what seabass sauce would be, but I ended up choosing Tonnarelli Scampi and Asparagus. It never ceases to amaze me the sheer amount of different types of pasta! On the menu alone there was stuff like Paccheri, Bavette, and Cavatelli pasta! Tonnarelli turned out to be like a thicker and denser version of spaghetti and was rather nice! When the waiter brought out my pasta, he said that it was very popular. However, I found that the scampi had hardly any meat and the asparagus was cooked a bit too long and was rather mushy 😦 I much rather preferred yesterday’s dish!

Tonnarelli Scampi and Asparagus

Tonnarelli Scampi and Asparagus

My mum chose the Risotto Fisherman Mix that my dad had yesterday and also got razor clams with it which my dad didn’t get yesterday!

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My dad originally wanted salmon but they had run out so opted for the grilled seabass for €15. It looked quite small, but my dad seemed fairly happy with it.

Grilled seabass

Grilled seabass

I’d definitely recommend this restaurant as it is very reasonably priced and there is an extensive selection of food on offer compared to other nearby restaurants who only have a few pasta dishes! I was tempted by the desserts, but even I (who always has a separate stomach for sweet things) was too full! You can’t fault their decent portion size!

Menu

Menu

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100 Happy Days – Day 86 (Blue Cafe Leatherhead – Review)

I haven’t seen Chris since last year so it was lovely meeting up with him this morning for brunch and a catch up πŸ™‚ (can’t believe I’ve known him since I was 4! That makes me feel old…) We went to the Blue Cafe in Leatherhead as we’d heard good things about it and fancied giving it a try. I’ve always been attracted to their massive zebra print chairs in the window too! I’d read online that the service can sometimes a bit surly and I guess the staff seemed a bit lackluster, but they were efficient and speedy, so that was good enough πŸ™‚ I was rather indecisive as to what to eat as they have a nice wide range of sandwiches and paninis, as well as jacket potatoes and pasta dishes. To say I was tempted by the cakes is a massive understatement, but in the end I went for a chicken, bacon, and cheese panini for Β£3.80 which also came with a small side salad and a couple of tortilla style crisps. It tasted pretty good, just could have done with a bit more filling though. But it was a lovely little place for a catch up and the prices were reasonable. After 12pm the cafe also got steadily busier as all the local business people came in for their lunch which shows that it must be rather popular with regulars!

Chicken, bacon, cheese, mayo panini

Blue Cafe on Urbanspoon

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100 Happy Days – Day 77

The last time I went to the cinema was to see the second Hunger Games film last Oct/Nov time. Today, Matt and I went into central London to watch the Book Thief at the West End Odeon as it looked like a fairly interesting film to watch. I always worry a bit when a film is over two hours long as sometimes it can drag out a bit, but I don’t think it did at all, and I found it to be quite a well written, moving film πŸ™‚

Afterwards, we went for a bit of a wander down Piccadilly and admired all the posh, expensive shops. We even had a gander in Fortnum and Mason, which neither of us have ever been to before. There was an amazing Easter egg for Β£200 that was cut open and intricately decorated inside. For Β£200, I’d never eat it! We then headed to the newly refurbished Wong Kei for dinner. I’ve only been there twice in the past before so I can’t really remember their “bad service and rude attitude”, but since I’m Chinese I always just thought that it was their way of being efficient as many of them probably can’t speak English that fluently. Anyway, the prices have gone up a bit and there was a bit of a mix up with our orders as we had ordered three dishes to share, but only one came and then it took a while for the other two to arrive. But the guy was pretty apologetic about it, so no harm done. Β£20 with no service charge for three dishesΒ isn’t too bad, considering other places charge nearly double! πŸ™‚

 

Odeon Book Thief

Wong Kei on Urbanspoon

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Little Italy (Review)

Yesterday I went to Kingston with my mum and as is tradition, we went out for lunch πŸ™‚ Howeeeever, this time we didn’t go to Prezzo – shock horror! Since I have a Tastecard, we always tend to go there since it always serves great food and we get two for one. But this time I fancied trying somewhere new as there are so many other places in the area that allow us to use Tastecard. I wasn’t too sure what to expect at Little Italy as the reviews online were all very mixed! I booked ahead and the restaurant wasn’t very busy when we went which was near 2pm. We were greeted by a very friendly waiter who showed us to a table. We had spent a while wandering around for a couple of hours, so had built up quite an appetite! We got two starters to share: Antipasto di Verdure (platter made up of roasted peppers, aubergine, courgettes, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, and olives, served with garlic bread) for Β£6.95, and Bianchetti (deep fried whitebait served with homemade dill tartare sauce) for Β£5.45.

Our starters didn’t take very long to arrive, only about 10 minutes. The platter came with three slices of garlic bread which was great, and very filling! It was well presented and had a good selection of vegetables, although I wish there was more than just one slice of aubergine! Overall, it was all seasoned well and tasted pretty good πŸ™‚ The whitebait was lovely too and the tartare sauce was a nice accompaniment.

Antipasto Di Verdure (platter made up of roasted peppers, aubergine, courgettes, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, and olives, with garlic bread)

Antipasto Di Verdure (platter made up of roasted peppers, aubergine, courgettes, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, and olives, with garlic bread)

Bianchetti (deep fried whitebait served with homemade dill tartare sauce)

Bianchetti (deep fried whitebait served with homemade dill tartare sauce)

Our plates took a bit longer than I would have liked to be cleared, but we didn’t have to wait that much longer before our main courses arrived. As we both couldn’t decide, we ordered Spaghetti Al Gamberoni (with smoked salmon, prawns, musssels, courgette, olive oil, white wine, cream, lemon juice), and Risotto Al Frutti Di Mare (with prawns, mussels, calamari, courgette, and spinach, in a creamy white wine sauce), both for Β£12.95. They both came with three slices of garlic bread, so we were well and truly breaded out! We both agreed that the Spaghetti Al Gamberoni was the tastier of the two dishes as it just had a richer flavour, and generally had more filling to it too. Not to say that the risotto wasn’t nice! It just had a slightly more subtle taste, but it was still very creamy, and not at all watery which is what a lot of risottos can turn out to be! There weren’t very many prawns, mussels, or calamari though, and the courgette and spinach was also on the sparse side. At least the calamari wasn’t chewy!

Risotto Al Frutti Di Mare (prawns, mussels, calamari, courgette, and spinach, in a creamy white wine sauce, served with garlic bread)

Risotto Al Frutti Di Mare (prawns, mussels, calamari, courgette, and spinach, in a creamy white wine sauce, served with garlic bread)

Spaghetti Al Gamberoni (smoked salmon, prawns, mussels, courgette, olive oil, white wine, cream, lemon juice, with garlic bread)

Spaghetti Al Gamberoni (smoked salmon, prawns, mussels, courgette, olive oil, white wine, cream, lemon juice, with garlic bread)

We were so full at the end of it! I normally always have room for dessert, and at only Β£4.25 it would have been a steal. On this occasion however, I was so stuffed full of bread that I could not eat a single thing more! The whole bill came to just over Β£21 (with 50% off due to the Tastecard), and included a 10% service charge which was a bit annoying as I don’t like restaurants to assume that they’ve given a service that I will want to pay for. I much prefer to judge for myself and tip an amount that I want to give. The service was friendly and fairly quick though, and the food was pretty tasty, so I’ll forgive them this time.

Little Italy on Urbanspoon

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Kentish Drovers Wetherspoons (Review)

This afternoon I did another mystery dine, this time at the Kentish Drovers in Peckham. I opted for the lasagne at Β£5.20 as I had a bit of a craving, and added a small portion of six onion rings at Β£1.19. I also had a Pepsi at Β£1.80, but when ordering the lasagne and drink together, I got a discount of Β£1.01 – win! I had a rather amusing encounter with a rather nice old guy at the bar. I hadn’t had the chance to take my gloves off yet and he commented that it was boiling outside and that I was silly for having them on still. I said that I had cold hands and he replied back with “you must have a warm heart then” haha! You do find the most random people in pubs! Anyway, getting distracted…

I found myself a comfy booth to sit in, and my food arrived within 10 minutes. Not gonna lie, the lasagne looked like a big slop on a plate as half the mince filling was pouring out the side and there was no definition in the layers. But the side salad looked rather appealing and fresh, and it came with a small pot of dressing too. The onion rings looked the most appealing I’ve ever seen them at a Wetherspoons – golden and crisp, although I’m not too sure how an onion ring barely bigger than the size of my thumb counts as one of of my six onion rings!

Looks can be deceiving after all since digging into my lasagne was actually a fairly pleasant experience and it tasted pretty good! There white sauce was nice and cheesy, and the mince had a nice, rich, tomatoey taste to it. I guess you could say that the slightly burnt edge added a bit of je ne sais quoi to it all. All in all, the meal was better than I was expecting, and the random old man at the bar topped off the visit.

Kentish Drovers Wetherspoons Lasagne and Side Salad

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