Friday, 10 June 2016

Prague Trip: What To Drink!

Prague is a wonderful city, vibrant and full of people walking in the narrow streets of Praha 1. Now, a lot of them happen to be there on holiday, looking to party and have a good time. And as it happens, alcohol is usually a big part of their experience. If you are new to Prague and don't know where to start, this should be a great starting point with a few suggestions on what to drink!

ABSINTHE


Absinth is big in Prague. You will see the tourist shops and various corner stores stocking a variety of absinthe types as well as other absinthe flavoured items, such as absinthe chocolate. The proper way to drink absinthe is to slowly pour drops of iced water into it, as they pass through a spoon with holes with an ice cube on top. The water slowly melts the sugar and allows the mixture to blend properly. Also it looks really cool.

 

Hemingway Bar near Charles Bridge is a good place to go try that. The staff is quite friendly and they will help you select what absinthe you will enjoy better and explain the process. They also do good cocktails.


Sidenote 1: Hemingway has never been to this bar. They just named it after him because he liked absinthe.
Sidenote 2: Remember to be quiet when in Prague bars, as loud customers may be asked to leave. It is actually illegal to make noise after hours.


WINES


You will find that Czech wine is really tasty, so I recommend ordering some with your meal at a restaurant. I usually prefer red but the white is pretty good too. Alternatively, hot sweet wine is also available from numerous street vendors, much like mulled wine here around Christmas time. In terms of flavour though it uses apples instead of oranges so think of hot sangria instead.


BEER


Of course beer is on our list, as most people going to Prague are there to try its beer.


While you can order a beer pretty much anywhere you go, most places will only carry few brands, usually Urquell, Kozel and Staropramen.


What was unusual for me is that despite the brand your options will most of the time be light beer (lager), dark beer (kind of like sweet ale) or mixed (actually mixing the two apparently).


In order to try some more specialised beers the best option is to go to a brewery that makes its own or visit one of the numerous beer museums advertised on TripAdvisor.


One lovely beer surprise was this chocolate flavoured one that we found on the way to the castle. Very tasty and I totally recommend it.


There are also always non alcoholic options and very low alcohol ones like the lemon Staropramen.


BECHEROVKA & FERNET


These two traditional herbal liqueurs are more of an acquired taste. They can be used to create cocktails but since they were so different I decided to try them on their own. I have to admit it was a bit of a struggle drinking it and I'd probably not get the bottle but it's good to try them once. The John Lennon pub is a good place for a pit stop for some drinks.


BOMBARDINO


While originally an Italian drink, a lot of Prague bars will be offering this drink in their menu. It is a mix of Advocaat or eggnog with brandy and it's served warm. It tasted like a hot Cadbury egg and I liked it a lot. If you have the chance you should give it a try.


Whatever drinks you like, just wander around the city and stop at as many cafes, bars and pubs as you can. Since there's something to discover around every corner, Prague is not a place to go to one bar and drink all night. So, go out and explore with your legs, eyes and mouths!


Have you been to Prague before? What drinks did you enjoy?
Leave a comment to let me know.

buzzoole code
buzzoole code

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

London Kawaii And J-Fashion Meet

Hey guys!

If you are a fan of all things japanese including all the awesome fashions and would like to make some likeminded friends then you should definitely keep reading.


I used to be super into Japanese fashion styles but I thought they were only available in Harajuku and that it would not be possible to do that in Europe. Then, a couple of months ago, I discovered there's a good community here in the UK for all these different fashion styles and they are all super cute and creative and have a few facebook groups you can join and meet each other according to the style you want to do, share inspiration for outfits and photos of things you find in the shops that can be used for your target style.


Meeting up sounded great fun so I looked for the next meetup and I discovered this Meetup group run by Jojo (of LoveJojo.com) and her friend Aisha. I joined immediately and booked on the first meet that was to take place on April 10th.


We got together at the Royal Festival Hall in Southbank, had some lunch that we had brought with us and chatted with each other. It was great to meet everybody and I was greatly impressed with the variety of styles. You could see Fairy Kei, Sweet Lolitas, Gothic Lolitas, Visual Kei etc and everybody looked fabulous.


We took photos and played pass the parcel, a game where you pass a parcel around with music and every time the music stops the person holding it unwraps a layer. Some of the  layers have presents that you get to keep and I was lucky enough to win a cute Gudetama keychain.


After that we moved outside to take a nice group photo in the grass and then moved on to Biju in Soho for some bubble tea. I recommend trying the pistachio milk tea with the egg pudding. It's delicious!


Next stop: dinner. True to our group, we decided to have Japanese food at Eat Tokyo. The portions are very big and filling. I got one of the bento boxes and it was a bit of a struggle trying to finish it. It tasted great though so I want to go back for more now.


The final stop of the night was karaoke! As I found out, a lot of the restaurants in China Town offer karaoke rooms upstairs, even if they don't advertise them. It's definitely a case where you have to be taken there to know it exists. Getting a room for 2 hours was about £150, which you can spend on drinks. Mind you, that's about 6 cocktail jugs so be prepared to drink a lot. Amazing value for money in my opinion. Here's a clip of us singing. It's not the best quality but you get the point.

video

I have to say, I met so many awesome people and had a brilliant time. If you are into j fashion this is definitely something to look into and find a meet to join. And if you want to read more about the meet  and look at some amazing Lolita outfits you can read my new friend Katy's post about it too.

Best
Kristine

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Brasserie Blanc Review - #XmasGame Menu

A leader amongst high street restaurants, Brasserie Blanc has always been adventurous with their menu, challenging the limits and making new flavours widely available at high street prices.

After the success of adding rabbit to their menu, their new challenge for the holiday season is to incorporate game meat into their winter menu, be it pigeon, pheasant or venison. At their #xmasgame night they showcased a variety of dishes and provided information about game, how it is produced, handled and cooked.

Wild Wood Pigeon Salad - click here for recipe
As part of the introductory talks, Tim Weston, Development Officer of the National Gamekeepers Organisation told us a bit more about the process of raising game animals, making sure there are enough birds and deer for hunting, but also enough left to reproduce for the following year. As these animals are free to roam openly, part of the gamekeeper's role is to feed them out in the open, only the best natural food is used, and also make sure they stay in their designated area, as the last thing you want is all the animals to run away. It is a year long process that leads up to the hunting season and then starts all over again.

According to Simon Smith from Aubrey Allen, 80% of game meat produced in the UK is exported, as most restaurants shy away from adding it to their menu, due to the special cooking requirements, the high skill level game chefs have to possess and the fact that there can be no steady supply of game; restaurants will have to introduce a separate menu of specials only available on specific nights and changing seasonally.


On the special #xmasgame night we were presented with a selection of game dishes, all very well prepared and delicious. The starters were mouthwatering, both the terrine and pigeon salad would be excellent choices if you would like to try something new. Trying pigeon for the first time, I found it particularly gamey, much closer to beef in taste than other poultry like chicken or duck. Having said that, I did really enjoy it and I can now understand the appeal.

The venison dish strongly reminded me of venison pies, which I believe are relatively common and felt equally warming. I can not decide if it is something your mom would cook at home on a cold winter's night or a perfectly cooked fancy dish as both statements were be simultaneously accurate. The meat just melted away in your mouth and the vegetables went perfect with it.


The second main dish, roast pheasant, was used to get two main points across. Not only did Clive Fretwell, Brasserie Blanc's Executive Chef Director, emphasise that there is no need to shy away from picking it out as our choice of meat for a roast, particularly Christmas dinner, but also held a small demonstration showing us how to properly season the bird and recreate perfect roasting conditions at home just by tying it up inside a plastic bag, so as to reproduce a steam oven effect.

The recipe, which can be found on Brasserie Blanc's website, proves that it would not be that difficult to bring game meat not only in high street restaurants, but also in our homes. Roasting a pheasant hardly seems any more challenging than your average Sunday roast chicken and can be a real treat for your family during special occasions or even just because. 

Roast Pheasant In A Bag - click here for recipe
During the meal we also tried the wine, white for the starters and red with the mains. Due to the nature of the meat, I would say that white wine can easily go with the terrine, pigeon and pheasant dishes and the only one you may want to consider red is the venison, however due to the nature of the game meat, keeping to white can make the meal feel less heavy and bring in more fruity notes that red wine may not have.

To finish the meal we had an assortment of chocolate based desserts all delicious and designed to satisfy any cravings for something sweet that we may have had. The way dessert was presented makes it suitable both for one person and as a shared dish along with a nice cup of tea.


The whole meal in general was spectacular, so I would definitely recommend checking out Brasserie Blanc for your Christmas meal or other special occasions.







Monday, 26 October 2015

MCM London Comic Con 2015

Are you a massive geek? Do you have an unhealthy obsession with a particular movie or tv show and wished you could meet the characters in real life? Do you know nothing Jon Snow?

Well, there is one place you can go and geek out for a couple of days: Comic Con! It's the time of year where cosplayers gather at ExCel London to meet, buy rare merchandise, meet actors and youtubers and show off all their hard work recreating costumes from their favourite films, anime, manga, games and books and pretend to be someone else. It's kind of like Halloween, but way more hard core.

Cercei and Ygritte - Game of Thrones

The quality of the costumes is always exceptional and it is very easy to see how much effort everyone has put in creating them most of the time from scratch. Variations of certain characters (like the Jokers shown below) often appear with the most popular ones where different costumes have been used in different mediums and incarnations through movies, tv series, comic books and games and they always make great photo ops.

The Joker - DC Universe

Other times characters from different movies of the same franchise come together for the ultimate fan service as we all have thought at one point or another that it would be really cool if all of them were together in a story. Whether you turn that into the Avengers or a few Disney princesses chilling together the results are always pretty awesome.

Merida, Belle and Peter Pan - Disney

This year Attack on Titan was the most popular anime for cosplayers and I assume everyone got lots of photos of them, however I decided to enjoy the day and only take photos of well made costumes of my favourite characters. 

Giselle and Prince Edward - Enchanted

Giselle and Edward's costumes were incredibly well made and just like the movie and I was very happy when I saw Regina from Once Upon A Time, as it is one of my favourite tv shows. Regina's costumes throughout the series have been amazing and this one is one of the most iconic ones. Plus it came complete with a glowing heart so how could I not love it? I do want to do that cosplay at some point too so I will be looking into it.

Regina - Once Upon A Time 

I decided to go as Susan Sto Helit from Terry Pratchett's books, particularly Hogfather which I love very much. I will have a more detailed post about my costume on my fashion blog. I also found a Dalek so I had to take a photo with it. Doctor Who is always quote big in Comic Con with people dressed up as one of the Doctor incarnations, the Tardis, or Daleks. I like Daleks.

Dalek - Doctor Who, Susan - Hogfather

Another quite impressive things for me is when people use stilts to make their characters taller. I have no idea how they balance on them and manage to walk around the crowds in full costume, with masks and everything on. It does look pretty cool though.

Oogie Boogie, Lock and Jack Skellington - The Nightmare Before Christmas

Imagine how hot it must be inside that dragon costume... I bet the guy would breathe fire if he could. Bad jokes aside, I do like Toothless so for me that was a great effort.

Toothless - How To Train Your Dragon

Apart from creating your costume, having the relevant props can be quite important and take your costume to the next level. For example, my friend Rob created his own Whiskey and Ginger Nuka Cola and Gin & Tonic Nuka Cola Quantum for his Fallout 3 costume.

Fallout 3

Apart from being a great chance to cosplay, Comic Con is great for shopping. Apart from the usual comic books, plushies, replica characters and cosplay wigs, you can get a wide range of handmade steampunk and gothic accessories like the ones below and discover new vendors you would not have normally come across, so make sure to bring money or ask for their website where you can find the items online later. These particular ones were from Diamantequeen Designs


So if you were thinking of going to Comic Con but were not sure, just go! It is awesome and you will have a great time. And if you do not have anyone to go with you can always have a look on facebook for groups who arrange to go together and do a specific theme costume or you can even create your own group on Meetup or citysocializer.

Whatever you do, make sure you pick a character you love and have fun being them for a day!

Love,
Kristine

Monday, 5 October 2015

Marrakech Trip: The Souks

This little piggy went to market...

But the market was in Morocco so it was quite unusual. So, the Souks (how the markets are called) in Marrakech are full of tiny little shops, labyrinthine passages and side streets and lots of people yelling at you to buy stuff. It is to be expected, but it can still become quite overwhelming. However it was quite nice to see all the treasures you could discover within this maze if you looked hard enough.


Lanterns seem to be a big thing, both in the market and as restaurant decor. They do help set the mood in the rooms, as the multitude of carefully placed holes creates beautiful shadows on the walls and the ceiling.


Seeds are also very common in shops... not sure about the birds eating them casually though. They seemed to enjoy their dinner, while my thoughts were that I would not want to buy anything that came from this shop... Hygiene doesn't seem to be a big thing.


Another thing that we saw a lot were carts. Both in the market and in the streets, often drawn by donkeys in the street and usually full of fruit or wares that needed to be sold. They seem like a remnant from an age long past for us here in London but in Morocco they are still very common.


So let's say you are brave enough to so inside the side streets and narrow passages in search of some rare treasures, read things that you will probably never use when you get back home, you need to be prepared to deal with the shop owners. They really want to sell you stuff. They really really really do. 



As soon as you pass by them they start talking to you and telling you to buy something. They will use Arabic, French, English, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and pretty much any language they know. It is pretty hard to reply in a language they do not speak, so that they will not attempt to make you get something. Luckily Greek was one of them so I did find myself to revert to it quite a bit. I mean, if someone did speak it, I would buy something just for the sake of it.


It is sort of obligatory to have some food in the market. Considering that most of the cold food and desserts were covered in flies though - the kind that does not even move when you hit it - we decided to go for something cooked. Cooking kills the germs, right? There is not much you can do wrong when grilling some meat, but it was still a bit dry. Tip: make sure you only accept what you have ordered, because bread and dips which they put on your table by themselves are charged extra at the end. We also discovered that Moroccan coke tastes different than both English and American coke so it is worth trying it. I would generally say that the market food is not necessarily worth the hype. Yes it is their kind of fast food but if you are only there for a few days you are better off trying actual Moroccan cuisine with cooked food. 


All in all, the Market is worth a visit, but I would say you can just walk by, have a look to see whether there is anything you would like to buy and then move on to a real restaurant or bar, like Maison MK/Gastro MK, which is right next to the Souk but has a more refined atmosphere, a roof garden bar and high quality food. You can also get wine, which is always a plus in an Arabic country.

Let me know if you would probably run away from the market or you could spend hours browsing. I'm always curious to know what other people think of markets because they tend to make me nervous.

Love,
Kristine

Monday, 10 August 2015

Margate Weekend: Shell Grotto

The Shell Grotto is Margate's best attraction according to Tripadvisor, so I knew I had to pay it a visit during my trip. It is located about 10 minutes from the sea and the other main attractions (Tudor House, Margate Museum etc). 


When you first go in, you have to go through the shell shop, which, as expected, sells shells, items made of shells and items that look like shells. You should just ignore the shop and walk straight in, to get you ticket and go down to the grotto.


The origins and the purpose of the grotto are unknown. There is no information about who built it and why, but some assumptions include christians, pagans, pirates and basically anyone who would like a good hiding place or a shrine. 


I think it is more fun to make up your own theory about the Shell Grotto and go with it. No one can prove you wrong. Especially if you are visiting with kids, making up a story about it will keep them busy and let them use their imagination.


The grotto itself is quite small, there is a round area at the start, then a corridor and at the end a big chamber that looks like a shrine. The walls are entirely covered in seashells that create intricate designs and incorporate elements from different cultures and religions. You will see the tree of life, the fleur de lis, ancient Greek symbols and lots of hearts. That is part of why its origins are so confusing, as there is no clear mythological allegiance.


In any case, it is very beautiful to see all the different shells and patterns up close and they even provide you with a key to the designs of each panel so you can find everything and understand what it is, as it can be a bit tricky when it comes to some of the designs.


Time wise, you probably only need 5 - 10 minutes to walk around the grotto if you are not looking at every single panel. You can definitely just take in the final result of the shell combination as a whole and feel the atmosphere without any close scrutiny. You can also take some photos and you be done quite fast.


I ended up staying about 30 minutes, looked for some of the panels and took some close up photos as you can see. I really liked the atmosphere inside the grotto and I stayed still for about five minutes just trying to feel the vibes of the place. The seashells and the humidity, due to it being underground, create a very unusual sensation and I liked it a lot.


All in all, I was please with my visit to the grotto and I would definitely recommend checking it out when you visit Margate. It is a very beautiful and quick sightseeing visit so you can easily head back to the beach for the rest of the day if you like.