However, if none of the above whets your appetite then listen to this: Ben & Jerry’s are launching a Valentine’s Day ice cream flavour, and it sounds incredible.
‘Topped Love’ will be hitting freezer shelves in time for the most romantic day of the year. It consists of brown sugar ice cream, pink salted caramel cups, cookie swirl, pink topping, and heart-shaped chunks. Dreamy.
It’ll cost a little more than the traditional 500ml tubs, with a price tag of £5.49.
Rebecca Baron, Ben & Jerry’s social mission manager, said: ‘At Ben & Jerry’s we’re all about sharing the love, whether that’s the love of ice cream or the love of one person for another.
‘So we’ve unapologetically dreamed up a flavour straight from the heart to share a little love with our friends at Refugee Action for those who need it most.’
You’ll find us on the sofa devouring a pot of Topped Love on 14th February.
Pink, turmeric, matcha – there are so many ways to take your latte these days that we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to our coffee. We all love a cup of the good stuff. So much so that us Brits are reportedly drinking 95 million cups of it a day (up 25 million since 2008), with the average person taking two cups a day according to a 2018 survey.
So it’s fair to say we’re quickly becoming a nation of coffee drinkers. No wonder there are now so many different ways to get your fill – extra hot, wet, in an avocado skin (remember that?).
And just to make your choice that little bit harder, there’s a new beverage on the block that might have you ditching the flat whites. Enter, the porridge latte.
Always skipping breakfast because you’re late to work? Can’t find a decent coffee shop nearby? Want your wake-up drink to also sustain you until lunchtime? This could be the answer that you’ve been looking for.
As reported by Her.ie, the porridge or oatmeal latte may just be the next big thing for the highly-caffeinated. It’s a mix between breakfast and a drink, making it a feasible option for anyone who repeatedly presses the snooze button in the morning.
If you want to give it a go at home HowSweetEats.com has concocted an easy-to-follow recipe.
However, if you really don’t have time in the mornings you could pick one up from your nearest Starbucks (apparently it’s part of their secret breakfast menu).
But why not give it a go this week?
A porridge latte could just be your new favourite.
Here’s everything you can (and should) eat on a gluten-free diet
Excluding gluten – the protein found in wheat, barley and rye – has become something of a huge diet friend, with celebrity followers from Victoria Beckham to Gwyneth Paltrow jumping on board and reaping its benefits.
Coeliac disease, however, is an autoimmune condition that causes adverse reactions if the sufferer eats gluten, rather than choosing to cut it out of their diet. The NHS lists the most common sympotoms as diarrhoea, abdominal pain and indigestion.
Going down the gluten-free track (whether you’re coeliac or not) sounds difficult and the menu options seem slim, but you’d be surprised – there’s actually a lot of good gluten-free ingredients to choose from. Read for the foods experts recommend consuming more of.
What foods can you eat on a gluten-free diet?
‘When going gluten-free and cutting out carby staples, you need to add healthy fats into your diet to keep you full and energized, and to load your body with beneficial nutrients,’ says celebrity nutritionist Madeleine Shaw, who’s currently working with Sure on their Compressed range. ‘Salmon and mackerel are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which ensure healthy immune function.’
‘Rice flour is a great gluten-free flour alternative,’ says nutritionist Jonny Stannard. ‘Use it for baking bread or cakes, and to thicken soups and sauces.’
‘Quinoa is a great option to replace pasta and bread in meals, without changing the ‘feel’ of the meal too much,’ says clinical performance nutritionist Martin MacDonald. ‘It is slow digesting and therefore gives you more stable energy levels and keeps you full for longer.’
‘Some yoghurt products contain additives that make them unsafe for those following a gluten-free diet,’ says Martin. ‘Total Greek yoghurt only contains two ingredients, milk and yoghurt cultures. It’s also a great source of protein.’
‘If you reduce cereal consumption, it’s important to seek out key vitamins and minerals such as iron,’ says Martin. ‘Liver is an excellent source of iron and many other micronutrients.’
‘Walnuts contain more omega 3 fatty acids than any other nut,‘ says Madeleine. Eating them will keep you feeling full, and omega-3 also boosts your brainpower.
Brown rice and pasta
Jonny recommends this as a great gluten-free alternative to wheat pasta. It’s high in fibre and contains around the same amount of calories as normal pasta.
Madeleine recommends including eggs in your gluten-free diet. They are a great source of protein and the yolk contains Vitamin D, an essential nutrient.
‘Make sure you include some gluten-free grains and starches in your diet, including sweet potatoes or beans,’ says Jonny.
Avocados are another great diet staple for those going gluten-free. They are a great source of filling and healthy fats. ‘Research also shows that eating one avocado a week balances hormones and helps prevent cervical cancer,’ says Madeleine.
Madeleine suggests including coconut oil in your gluten-free diet. ‘It’s converted into instant energy in a similar way to carbs or sugar,’ she says. ‘However, coconut oil doesn’t spike insulin levels. This means that you are less likely to crash in the afternoon and grab something sweet.’
‘Mussels are an excellent source of zinc, which can become too low in a gluten-free diet that does not contain fortified foods,’ says Martin.
These should help curb your cake and cookie cravings. ‘These are not to be consumed on a regular basis but are lovely with some organic nut butter and jam,’ says Martin.
If you are concerned about the symptoms of coeliac disease, speak to your GP to investigate further
After a month of Christmas parties, cosy nights in the pub and a generous helping of mulled wine in front of the Harry Potter films, you’re probably feeling pretty tired and counting down the days to Dry January.
But what if we told you there was a way to drink without feeling ropey the next day?
According to The Independent, experts agree that there’s one very simple way to avoid a hangover after a few too many Proseccos. Great news for anyone who is partying their way through to the end of December.
Researchers found that the effects of a hangover were ‘significantly reduced’ by drinking Korean pear juice – before starting on alcoholic beverages.
The study found that drinking 200ml of pear juice before your night out will help with the symptoms of overdoing it with the booze.
A statement from Professor Manny Noakes, who led the study, reads: ‘It appears that the factors in Korean pears act on the key enzymes involved in alcohol metabolism, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) to speed up alcohol metabolism and elimination or inhibition of alcohol absorption.
‘In particular, reductions were seen in blood acetaldehyde levels, the toxic metabolic thought to be responsible for the hangover symptoms, with pear juice consumption.’
More and more of us are breaking up with the booze – so what happens to our bodies when we do?
Many of us will admit to mainlining the prosecco, beer and spirits over Christmas and new year (me included). But after a season of heavy drinking, many of us start wondering about the benefits of giving up alcohol.
Dry January aside, teetotalism is very much on the rise – a 2015 study conducted by the ONS found that one in five adults in Britain don’t drink at all, a massive 40% increase from 2005.
Annie Grace, author of The Alcohol Experiment, stopped drinking alcohol completely and says it changed her life. ‘My drinking was very typical: Happy hours at work, social events with friends and stress-relief at home,’ she explains. ‘I believed drinking was the key to good life, but in many ways my life was falling apart. I was tired, lacking in energy, short-tempered, not sleeping well – life just felt difficult.
‘I really thought that alcohol was the glue keeping everything together, but in reality it was the chisel chipping away at my foundation. I know that sounds dramatic, but once I realised alcohol might be part of the problem instead of the solution, I decided to take a break.’
As part of her ‘break-up’ from alcohol Annie wrote about the process, later publishing her journals online. In just two weeks more than 20,000 people had downloaded and read them, showing that the change in outlook was something that really resonated.
Intrigued about the benefits of giving up alcohol? Keep reading to find out how it can improve your physical health and mental wellbeing.
The benefits of not drinking alcohol timeline
There are a number of mental and physical benefits of not drinking alcohol including weight loss and skin benefits. Below we break down when you can expect to see them after breaking up with booze.
After a week
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means you lose fluid through sweating and those all-too-frequent toilet visits on a night out. Within a week, normal hydration levels become sustained in your whole body, including your eyes. Drinking lots of water can also speed up this process.
After two weeks
A fortnight in and your blood pressure starts to normalise, which reduces your chances of getting hypertensive retinopathy. This a condition which can seriously damage the way your eyes focus on images.
After three weeks
As Dry January draws to a close, your liver is already starting to benefit from the lack of alcohol and this is reflected in your eye health. Expect the sciera (the white part of the eye) to lose any yellow tinge it might have had from excessive drinking.
Benefits of giving up alcohol after one month
That month of no drinking really does work wonders, folks. ‘How I looked changed dramatically,’ Annie tells us. ‘I lost an entire stone in just 30 days, my skin cleared up and my eyes were bright again. I had so many people asking what I was doing!’
What’s more, after a month red blood cells are beginning to renew which causes a better blood and oxygen flow for all your organs, including your eyes. And good circulation is key in obtaining good eyesight.
Benefits of giving up alcohol after 6 months to a year… And beyond
Dry January is a big milestone, but if you’re thinking of making the change permanent it can have a real positive impact on your life. ‘I looked five to ten years younger within months of stopping drinking!’ Annie enthuses.
But that’s not all; your mentality can see a huge improvement too. ‘The inward changes were equally as profound; I felt a real sense of confidence,’ she continues. ‘I had been relying on alcohol to get through the day or to deal with my kids. When I did these things without a drink my confidence soared – I realised that I am quite strong anyway!’
Since giving up alcohol, Annie has also been able to come off three antidepressants: ‘This doesn’t mean I don’t have a good cry or that I no longer experience the difficult emotions – but it does mean that when I do, I stop and listen and focus on healing myself, rather than numbing myself.
‘I was repeatedly telling myself I was not strong enough to handle my life without an external substance. Learning that the opposite is true has been incredible.’
Don’t know about you, but that bottle of prosecco doesn’t look quite so appealing now…
The Alcohol Experiment: A 30-Day, Alcohol-Free Challenge to Interrupt Your Habits and Help You Take Control’ by Annie Grace is out on the 31st December 2018
** Please drink responsibly, and don’t drive home for Christmas after indulging in a few of these…**
We love a Christmas tipple here at MC and when we heard about the new festive cocktail offering at The Bloomsbury Club Bar this year, snappily called Dingle All The Way (and featuring spirits from the award-winning Dingle Distillery in Ireland), we knew we had to get down to see what all the fuss was about.
With options including the ‘All I Want For Christmas’, a hot cocktail with a mix of coffee, Dingle whisky and nutmeg (£12), ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, a warming gin-based drink blended with spiced pear flavours (£12) and ‘The Dinge Jingle’, a mixture of gin, grapefruit and aroma of pine (our pick!) (£12) even The Grinch among your friendship group will be impressed.
We sent several staffers down to try out the menu. Read on for the verdicts…
Sunil Makan, Associate Editor
“Before I get started on the food and drink, let me start by saying this is my new favourite place to go for drinks in London. I felt like I was on holiday in my own city. It was LOVELY.
Now, onto the Christmas menu… my go-to cocktail is a dirty martini so when I saw the ‘The Dingle Jingle’ on the menu, I knew I just had to try it. The addition of the pine not only adds a seriously festive touch but makes this just the right side of Christmassy.
Maybe it was the Mariah Carey reference but I couldn’t resist trying out the ‘All I Want For Christmas’, too. It was like a creamy and chocolatey pudding in a glass. Big, nay, HUGE thumbs up.
As for the nibbles, I’m somewhat of a sausage roll connoisseur (self prescribed, of course) and can often be found waxing lyrical about all the establishments that serve the best in central London. Well, I’ve recently been adding The Bloomsbury Hotel to the list, boy, these are DIVINE.
Holly Rains, Digital Editor
“To be perfectly honest, I was feeling particularly festive on the evening of our drinks, not even Wham! could get me in the mood. However, after a few minutes sat inside the supremely cosy, super chic Bloomsbury Bar, I was more than on my way to getting that much sought after Christmas cheer.
The epic Christmas tree helped, as did the x2 servings (I say servings, for this drink is more like a cocktail x pudding hybrid) of the ‘All I Want For Christmas’ tipple. Featuring warm coffee, whisky and nutmeg, I highly recommend this drink to enlighten your inner Scrooge. Seriously, if this place doesn’t leave you feeling festive, nothing will…”
Alice Watt, Freelance Writer
“Both cosy and luxurious, The Bloomsbury Bar is otherwise known as the perfect spot to rest weary/cold feet after a Xmas shopping spree on Oxford Street. The drinks, as can be expected from plush surroundings, were truly divine. If you’re looking for trad mulled wine or a mediocre Irish whiskey, this isn’t the place to head. Here you can expect to find cute crystal glasses filled with experimental infusions that pack a punch with flavour, and ahem, booze. Plus, there’s a delish tasting menu to complement them.”
Penny Goldstone, Digital Fashion Editor
“Any drink with a bit of Nordic fir in it is A-OK for me. What a treat! And the take on the Irish Whiskey has me begging for the recipe. Dangerous and delicious.”
Stylish spots in the capital for when you need a hit of cake (and sandwiches, obvs)
Looking for the best afternoon tea in London? As people of Britain, it’s our God-given right to indulge our sweet tooth in lavish surroundings at least once a year as part of the sacred ritual that is High Tea.
From tiny sandwiches cut into squares (never triangles – please) to cherry-topped desserts and immaculate white-gloved waiters, here are the best places to have afternoon tea in London.
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough, Knightsbridge
The Lanesborough Festive Afternoon Tea
If you’re after a proper luxe, old-school-with-a-twist Afternoon Tea, then let us direct you straight to the five star Lanesborough hotel in Knightsbridge, where their award-winning afternoon tea has had a seasonally-sweet festive makeover with Head Pastry Chef, Gabriel Le Quang, re-imagining all your favourite Christmas classics.
Served in the incredibly grand setting of Céleste dining room, with its chandelier-adorned ceiling, soft blue walls and sink-in sofas, you’ll be serenaded by classic Christmas carols played out live on the piano. Sitting alongside your classic homemade scones, fruit preserves and clotted Devonshire cream, get ready for new festive additions including turkey cranberry on cranberry bread, salmon with wasabi mayonnaise on matcha bread, and brisket beef horseradish on granary bread, with seasonally apt sweets bites coming in the form of chocolate Christmas baubles and hazelnut snowballs (our pick). If this doesn’t get you in the festive swing of things, nothing will…
The Festive Afternoon Tea costs from £55 per person, or from £65 with a glass of Irroy Champagne (well worth it). Available until 30th December 2018.
The Corinthia has always been one of our fave hotels in London, mainly due to the fact we have collectively interviewed many an A-list face within the hallowed walls of this hotel, but don’t let its starry reputation fool you, it is one of THE most welcoming hotels in the capital. Case in point, the afternoon tea – where the staff are not just well informed and friendly, but also very generous with the portions. Want more tea? No problem. Extra sandwiches? You betcha! Yes, unlike some afternoon teas where there are sandwich rations aplenty, afternoon tea at the Corinthia is a plentiful affair.
Taking place in the grand Crystal Moon Lounge (!), with a background buzz of live piano and happy patrons, you will experience the tastiest pastries and cakes and finest teas around (don’t forget to try their bespoke house infusion). Our tip? Opt in for a flute of Laurent-Perrier Champagne, because nothing is more decadent than sipping on fizz whilst eating a finger sandwich.
Afternoon Tea at St. James’s Hotel and Club, Mayfair
Tucked away in a back street behind the Ritz in the heart of London’s Mayfair sits one of London’s best kept secrets: afternoon tea at the St. James’s Hotel & Club. The venue is an institution, renowned for its lush interiors and unique art collection, and is more like stepping into the dining room of a posh Georgian townhouse than a hotel, a real refuge from a day’s shopping in London’s West End. The menu includes bespoke Victorian-themed cakes, scones, sandwiches and teas inspired by the 1840s, the decade in which Afternoon Tea was born. Offerings includes St James Ham and Alberts Chutney, Ox Tongue with Mustard Butter sandwiches, home-made Cheshire Cheese Scones, and Victoria Sponge and Lemon Drizzle cakes to finish. The quality is just what you’d expect from one of Europe’s smallest Michelin-starred restaurants. Visit this Mother’s Day for a special treat. The hotel, which has partnered with the luxury pearl experts, PLAX Jewellery is offering a glass of champagne each, and a unique gift of a pair of handmade pearl earrings alongside your scones.
Alexander Hamilton Afternoon Tea, The Lanesborough
In the heart of Knightsbridge, The Lanesborough hotel’s newly launched Alexander Hamilton Afternoon Tea is just as much of a hit as its musical namesake. Served in the Michelin-starred Céleste dining room, guests are treated to brand new pastry creations inspired by the Broadway smash and created by Head Pastry Chef Gabriel Le Quang.
On top of these incredible pastries, get ready to enjoy scones still warm from the oven, sumptuous finger sandwiches (including the best coronation chicken you will ever taste), a huge range of teas and of course, a glass of champagne to top it all off.
We loved the exotic lace cupcake and the blackberry cheesecake and, as nothing is too much trouble for The Lanesborough team, gluten-free guests can enjoy equally delicious tea-time treats. As they say in the show, ‘you’ll be back!’
Afternoon Tea Dance, Waldorf Hilton
This tea has it all (champagne, Charleston and a bonafide jazz band). Set in the 1908 Waldorf Hilton’s airy Palm Court, dancing duo The Twin Swing will treat you to a silver-sequinned display of classic 1920s dance, accompanied by the Berkeley Square Society Band. When the girls aren’t doing their thing, the marble floor is free for the tea-takers (cue adorable older couples waltzing across the dance floor). After a tea of warm scones, finger sandwiches and delicate cakes, there is an (optional) dance lesson where you can try your luck at the Charleston (warning: you may come away with heightened sympathy for contestants on Strictly), followed by more jazz tunes. This is an afternoon excursion that will warm your heart, leaving you pleasantly full, and possibly a little breathless.
Japanese Afternoon Tea, Sosharu
Escape from Britain for a little while and head out east to Sosharu, which offers a gorgeous Japanese take on an English classic. Combining traditional Japanese desserts such as taiyaki, a fish shaped pastry filled with cream, and creating new staples such as matcha iced fingers, the entire selection stems around the ritual of tea ceremony. Of course, you can’t have afternoon tea without said drink and the tea list is long – as well as the cocktail list.
Summer Garden Afternoon Tea, Strand Palace Hotel
Revamped especially for the summer, the culinary team over at Strand Palace Hotel have revised their classic afternoon tea and made it a little more summer-friendly. The entire set is a stroll through a British garden, with floral touches such as white chocolate roses and milk chocolate butterflies. You can’t go wrong with the savouries either and they put a little spin on the standards – think sirloin steak and horseradish served on orange bread and smoked salmon and cream cheese on charcoal toast.
Designer Afternoon Tea, Thomas’ Cafe at Burberry
Head to the Burberry flagship store on Regent Street to delight in a truly British offering at Thomas’ Cafe – primed and ready for Instagram. With all the classic staples like delicate finger sandwiches, scones and a selection of miniature desserts including lemon drizzles and apple choux buns, it’s all served on a vintage-chic brass cake stand. It also washes down a little easily with a complimentary glass of sparkling rose, which might make perusing their store slightly dangerous.
The Savoy, The Strand
Afternoon tea at The Savoy is practically an institution and their beautiful glass domed Thames Foyer is the perfect setting for it. Their multi-course treat features savoury delights such as a selection of finger sandwiches ranging from the staple egg salad to mozzarella, tomato and pesto options. It wouldn’t be a proper afternoon tea without some tea and scones, which come with a hefty helping of clotted cream, lemon curd and preserve to slather on top. Curated by their Executive Pastry Chef Ludwig Hely, there’s a delightful selection of desserts – think raspberry macarons, tiramisu eclairs and more.
Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea, Sanderson London
Take a tumble down Fitzrovia’s rabbit hole to Sanderson Hotel‘s courtyard garden, where you’ll be treated to a smorgasbord of Alice in Wonderland inspired treats, including a chessboard gateau, a chocolate and pistachio blue caterpillar, an apple, cinnamon and peach ‘Drink Me’ potion, alongside Tweedle Dee’s lemon curd financier. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser for literary fans, each addition is inspired by key characters and chapters from the Wonderland books, served with “Alice” China black tea, (or something stronger if you prefer). It looks so good that you’ll almost have trouble finishing it off (emphasis on ‘almost’). Follow the white rabbit for directions.
Jazz Afternoon Tea, Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
Get inspired by 20s London with this Jazz Afternoon Tea served in the art deco surroundings of the Sheraton Grand’s Palm Court. This musically inspired tea is available for 90 days from April 30th (International Jazz Day) to celebrate the hotel’s 90th anniversary, and is accompanied by live jazz. It arrives in a bird cage – an homage to the unique structure of the 1920’s hotel. Highlights include the edible saxophone atop a chocolate tart, and the pinacolada crème topped with a musical note. There’s a veggie sandwich option too, and of course champagne and fresh fruit juice on offer. As for the tea, there are 27 flavours from which to choose – we recommend the Passion Fruit Ceylon from Sri Lanka.
The Chelsea Harbour Hotel, Chelsea Marina
The great thing about this tea is it gives you harbour-side views without having to leave London. The Chelsea Harbour Hotel has partnered with Whittard of Chelsea, bringing the world-famous 130-year-old tea brand back to its roots. They offer a curated selection of traditional, herbal and speciality teas, which you can leave to brew while enjoying the repertoire of the live pianist. The scones and sandwiches are as delicious as you’d expect, but don’t forget to save space for the sweeter treats – the mini bakewell tart and red velvet cupcakes being the ones to look out for. And at just £22 per person, it’s affordable too. Go on a sunny day to get the best views over the marina.
The Balcon at the Sofitel London St James
High Tea with a difference – think traditional afternoon tea but with a classic French twist. The Balcon serve traditional Dammann Frères tea (which dates back to 1692 when tea was exclusively sold in France by Monsier Damame), accompanied by a delicious array of finger sandwiches and cakes, as well as Parisienne pastries. If you wish, opt for a glass of champagne or signature cocktail – or opt for 90 minutes of free-flowing champagne for an afternoon of decadence. Taking children out for their first afternoon tea experience? The adorable children’s version comes in a paintbox with an accompanying colouring kit.
Balthazar, Covent Garden
Cake lovers and beauty junkies (so everyone then), this one’s for you! To celebrate 25 years of Bobbi Brown, the beauty brand has collaborated with Balthazar to bring you chocolate treats reminiscent of all your favourite products, alongside their traditional afternoon tea menu. Expect champagne infused Shimmer Bricks and Pot Rouge macaroons.
The Bulgari Hotel, Knightsbridge
If you’re less of a ‘chintz’ person (and you fancy a spin around Harrods afterwards) try the ultra-sleek Bulgari Hotel’s festive afternoon tea. The menu includes a nod to the hotel’s Italian roots with mini panettone, while there are other Christmassy flavours in the orange and winter spiced macaroons. If you’re feeling seriously decadent, you can even add a glass of Ruinart champagne.
Hotel Cafe Royal, Mayfair
A quintessentially British choice. Hosted at the hotel’s Oscar Wilde bar, the Royal Tea offers an insight into the history of the tradition, followed by a London-themed menu including strawberry jam roly-poly, their Queen of Heart’s Bakewell Tart, and of course, a choice of custom-blend teas.
Mr Fogg’s, Mayfair
Looking to sip on something a bit stronger than a cup of Earl Grey? Mr Fogg’s is the place. A cocktail menu, a hidden location and a new botanical garden make it a top choice for those looking to indulge their inner-glutton in style. If you’re a gin fiend, you’re in for a treat with their bottomless gin tea.
Muriel’s Kitchen, Soho
Banoffee pie jars, brownie bites and little carrot loafs all accompany the usual suspects at cute Muriel’s Kitchen which is known for its healthy but hearty food. We suggest hitting the Soho branch for cake and Prosecco before heading out to the shops for a bit of tipsy retail therapy.
La Suite West, Hyde Park
This is one of very few vegan afternoon teas in London – at La Suite West’sNosh Garden Kitchen the cream is coconut and the cream cheese is cashew nut. If you haven’t got on board with the whole vegan thing don’t be put off, because there’s plenty here to please. (The chocolate brownie and home-made cinnamon scones are a particular highlight). Plus, it can be enjoyed al-fresco in the hotel’s garden terrace, alongside a tea of your choice or a passion fruit and vanilla lychee mocktail (perfect if you’re trying to cut down on the booze too).
The Modern Pantry, Clerkenwell
If you’re looking for insta-worthy food, The Modern Pantry has got it. Sip on a flute of bubbles while munching on some classics with an innovative twist, like their roast chicken, red pepper, wild garlic pesto and sweet chilli mayo sandwiches.
Bluebird Chelsea, King’s Road
Been watching too many Made in Chelsea re-runs? Then get the whole thing out of your system with a calorie blow out at Bluebird Chelsea, a regular haunt of cast and a great little spot for some people watching. Located on the King’s Road, the first floor restaurant serves a Traditional Afternoon Tea with finger sandwiches, scones and lashings of clotted cream. Jolly good.
Scones not your thing? Artisan gelato and sorbet specialist, Amorino are all about the ice cream. Expect gelato-filled macaroons, gelato roses, refreshing sorbetti drinks and rich Italian hot chocolate to mark the opening of their new Fulham venue.
Sketch, Oxford Circus
Sketch is probably the name on most people’s lips when you ask for a high tea recommendation. Step into the pink parlour, which is decorated by the work of David Shrigley, for an endless supply of tiny, tiny finger sandwiches and fantastical cakes. Before you leave, take a detour to the loos where you can powder your nose in a giant egg-shaped capsule. We’ll leave you with that thought.
Aqua Shard, London Bridge
Not just a delicious menu and some of the best views in the capital, Aqua Shard also offers a glorious nostalgia trip in the form of afternoon tea. As a tribute to the iconic children’s author, Roald Dahl, you can enjoy a selection of novel delicacies from James’ giant peach (meringue) to Mr Twit’s bird pie. In case you were wondering, Snozzcumbers didn’t make the cut.
But what about after the festive period? How do we wedge the magic into our lives when we’ve got new year blues and the summer feels like lightyears away?
For any Potterhead with a significant other and a load of cash, we’ve got some excellent news. You can now have a fancy three-course meal in The Great Hall at Hogwarts for Valentine’s Day.
If you’ve ever imagined yourself sat under the infamous starry sky ceiling, sipping on a glass of Butterbeer while your OH whispers sweet spells across a candlelit table, then you can now make it a reality. The Great Hall will be open to loved-up HP fans from Thursday 14th February to Saturday 16th February.
From 7pm until midnight, you’ll be feasting on dishes such as ‘gin’ botanicals cured scotch salmon, confit leg and breast of Aylesbury duck, and Sicilian lemon tart.
Credit: Warner Bros Studio Tour London
It’s not just the sit down dinner you’ve got to look forward to. You’ll also get to wander through the film sets with access to the Warner Bros Studio Tour after-hours, and will have the chance to pick up a drink on Platform 9 ¾.
Tickets go on sale on Tuesday 18th December, but if you want some you’ll have to be quick.
Last year, they sold out in absolutely no time.
There’s one slight catch – this experience of a lifetime comes with a rather large price tag. A table for two will set you back £495. Gulp.
But before you write it off, remember you’ll also get a nice photo to take home. And you’ll literally be having the most magical Valentine’s Day.
There’s Christmas decorations, then there’s London’s Christmas decorations. The English capital has really turned things out this year with Oxford Street’s iconic lights, Christmas events galore and Covent Garden putting up a Christmas tree that you can hardly fit in a photograph. It’s not just the big tourist destinations that have been totally transformed as there’s one spot which is attracting a ton of attention, for all the right reasons. If you’ve been on Instagram recently, you may have noticed all your favourite influencers and pals have been snapping pictures outside what looks like an extravagant gingerbread mansion. And we finally know where it actually is.
It turns out that it’s actually an installation at The Ivy Chelsea Garden, a swanky restaurant over on King’s Road. They explained that it’s decorated with “colourful sweets, rock candy and a gingerbread roof” and TBH if this is what that witch’s house looked like, we totally get why Hansel and Gretel stepped in to say hello.
It’s not just the ultimate Instagram opp, as if you drop by you’ll also be able to snag sweet treats for yourself. If you look a little closely, there’s a set of little red boxes you can reach into to pull out treats like candy canes and bon bons. That’s enough reason to drop by in our opinion.
It turns out that it’s been a long labour of love as Pedro Carvalho, The Ivy Chelsea Garden’s general manager, said, “We’ve been planning our Gingerbread House installation for quite a few months and we’re very excited to bring some Christmas cheer to the King’s Road. We hope our guests like the installation as much as we do and we’ll be fully encouraging passers-by to enjoy sweet treats from within the Gingerbread House’s windows.”
If you decide you do want to check out The Ivy (and you absolutely should), they’ve also made a special cocktail themed after their decor. It’s called the Gingerbread Espresso Martini and it brings together espresso, gingerbread syrup, Wyborowa Vodka and Bepi Tosolini Expre liqueur for a delish sounding cocktail.
The installation is lasting through to the end of 2018 and they’ll be packing it all up on January 1, 2019. If there was ever an excuse to go for brunch with your pals next weekend, this is it.
Forget the presents and the festive trees, the best part about this time of the year are the Christmas sandwiches. (We’ll go to the grave defending this.) With the likes of Tesco and Pret a Manger bringing a holiday twist to your desk lunch, there’s always a lot of controversy over the best Christmas sandwich around and well – Warburtons has taken a more scientific approach to working it out. The bread connoisseurs polled the nation to figure out what the ultimate Christmas sandwich would have in it and we’re not going to lie, our mouths are watering already.
Warburtons presented 2000 Brits with 50 different sandwich combinations and polled them to find out what the biggest hit was. It turns out that a sandwich “consisting of turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, bacon, cheese, mayonnaise and pigs in blankets” reigned supreme and TBH, we would have voted for it too.
Beyond that dreamy combination, they also figured out what the top five fillings for a Christmas sandwich were. 66% said turkey had to be in it (lower than we expected to be honest), 44% said chicken, 42% said roast ham, 35% said beef and 21% said brie – so obviously, this time of the year is pretty meaty. Vegetarian Christmas sandwiches also proved more popular as 11% loved the sound of a cauliflower cheese and nut roast option.
We’re not going to go as far as to call these people monsters, but there were a select few who were keen on ruining Christmas sandwiches for everyone. It turns out that 5% “admitted to adding some Christmas pudding, brandy butter or crumbling leftover fruit cake into their sandwich” while 9% “said they would add hipster favourite avocado to the mix”. And quite frankly, we’re tempted to call the police.
Warburton even figured out when people were most likely to tuck into a Christmas sarnie and that time is “12pm-1pm on Boxing Day”, which makes sense since it’s exactly what you’d want on a hangover. According to Warburtons, 71% of Brits will “eat up to 11 over the Christmas period” and 37% “get excited when they see them on sale”.