Archive for food

14 Jun 2017

THE ART OF FRANCE

No Comments flush magazine, food, hotel, lblogger, lifestyle, my words, travel

Who doesn’t love a bit of  ‘oooh la la’?? 

I certainly made the most of my basic French when I visited the beautiful Loire Valley for Flush magazine.

See the full feature here

Loire Valley_FlushMagazine

 

Heading to The Loire Valley with my history head on, I wasn’t quite sure what delights I was letting myself in for. At a hop skip and short (90 mins) train ride from Paris, the pretty village of Amboise was worth the trek. Winding country roads, and chateaux a plenty, the village is probably best known for its Chateaux du Clos Luce, where Leonardo da Vinci spent his final years, but there are lots of other things to explore for a long weekend too, particularly if you are an outdoorsy sort, or like wine! Both of which appeal to me.

Everyone has heard of the Mona Lisa, but how much do you really know about the man behind her? With A-level art to back me up, I thought I might be teacher’s pet on the art- history part of the tour, but as Leonardo would say, there is always more to learn. In addition to his painting skills, Leonardo was a restless genius in many fields, excelling in whatever he set his mind to.

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He was invited to move in to the King’s estate in Amboise by King Francis I, as he was a great believer in Leonardo da Vinci’s talent. Giving him the title of “Premier Painter, Engineer and Architect of the King” he had a special, if ambiguous friendship with the Italian; Granting him full access to the Château of Cloux, (later known as Clos Luce) which was on the grounds and located only a few meters away from his own castle at Château d’Amboise. It is not known whether they were having a love affair, or whether King Francis just accepted his genius mind. Even with all the diaries and log books from the time, da Vinci’s sex life remains private.

Now open to the public, his home has been fully restored and furnished in the 16th-century style. The final years of his life at Château du Clos Lucé, were seemingly happy times, and he worked on several projects for King Francis, along with two of his trustworthy students. At the time, da Vinci was christened with the moniker “Renaissance Man” along with his contemporary Michelangelo, who was a sculptor, painter, architect and poet. A term which was befitting of both, working on the principle that man is the centre of the universe and has no limits. Knowledge is there to be consumed, questioned and embraced and every man should develop their own capacities for enrichment as fully as possible- which is completely

 

17 May 2017

FOODIE DELIGHT HITS UNSUSPECTING SOUTH KENSINGTON

No Comments food, lblogger, my words, news, review, sara darling

CERU IS THE PLACE TO KNOW FOR FOOD FUSION

Ceru_S.Kens_SaraDarling5

For a taste of the Med mixed with a touch of Arabia, and all the best bits of Turkey, Persia, Egypt and Greece, head to the latest addition to the Foodie Circuit, Ceru, in South Kensington. 

 

Slow cooked, freshly prepared dishes have been rounded into a well flavoured menu of sharing dishes, inspired by the Levant; The owner’s approach to bring the sunshine and spices to experimental customers who love good food and wine, seems to have found the perfect home in Bute Street.

 

An understated exterior, leads to a warm and buzzy interior, complete with candles, booths and mosaics which transport you faraway from Central London.  

Super friendly and knowledgeable staff are happy to help with the small but perfectly formed menu, and offer choices and suggestions for any allergies or dietary requirements. They also know a thing or two about the cocktail and wine menu, and I struck lucky with my ‘Too Hot to Handle’ concoction. A mixture of Famous Grouse, Disaronno, Chilli, Lemon, Sugar, Egg white, it could have gone either way with the chilli, but it tickled my pre-dinner taste buds, and got me excited for more!

 

Ordering a selection of food for sharing is the done thing in Ceru, and the waitress brought the mezze dishes as and when, which was meant there was always something on the go, and something to look forward to! I recommend eight dishes for two people, and definitely try and squeeze in the Chef’s special desert…

 

Depending if you prefer meat or vegetables, (there are plenty of options for veggies/vegans) I would recommend the roast pumpkin and cauliflower salad, (melt in the mouth) lamb kebabs, roast beetroot and fennel salad, crisp apple, mint and pomegranate salad, beef kofta, courgette fritters, fadi dip and flatbreads… And if that sounds like a lot, it is ample! But going to Ceru is a treat after all. AND they serve the delicious Lebanese wine Ksara, which complemented everything!

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Spending hours chatting and making ourselves at home, it was great to end the night with the chocolate surprise. A mousse topped with crumbled pistachios (and a cherry hidden inside).

Yum.

Perfect for couples, catch ups, small groups or mums. They even do an express lunch and afternoon tea. Not sure how this works Levant style, but I’m very keen to give it a try!

See the menu here and check it out for yourself 

 
 
Ceru, 7-9 Bute St, Kensington, London SW7 3EY
 

 

 

09 Mar 2017

Whiskey in the city at Jackson & Rye

1 Comment flush magazine, food, lblogger, lifestyle, my words, news, review

When I was invited to pop along to a whisky tasting on a Wednesday night, I nearly sobbed! I love whiskey, but too much on a school night could end in disaster! 

However, the fine folk at Jackson & Rye have launched a Flight Night taster sesh on Wednesdays, to give the thirsty public a taster of their fine bourbons, and very fine they are! Read my feature in full for Flush here

17 Jun 2016

Look to CAPRERA for your foodie treats

No Comments blogger, food, lblogger, my words, review

Food shopping online should start at Caprera 

Internet shopping is second nature to most of us, whether we are banking, booking a holiday or looking for a boyfriend, there is a handy tool to help us get what we want seamlessly. So it’s no wonder that you should be able to track down some tasty titbits at the touch of a button too.

Caprera_saradarling_diaryofafashiondarling

So when I came across artisan foodie place Caprera, I was smitten from the word go! It’s a site filled with all your larder essentials and tantalising treats which you certainly won’t get in your local Tesco.

With an ethos of bringing a carefully curated selection of local suppliers together on one platform to offer their handmade/specialist products, it is like having your local farmers market at your fingertips! You can peruse the categories, order all your products in one go, and get them delivered to your door at the same time. A genius idea for the hectic life I lead!

Caprera_saradarling_diaryofafashiondarling

My first delivery consisted of Sweet Onion Crackers, so mouth wateringly tasty, I nearly scoffed them all at once! Coupled with Black Olives Pate by Max Olive Oil, this was the perfect mid-morning snack to assist my creative writing! I took the Nim’s pineapple and kiwi fruit crisps with me on my next day of appointments in London. These are now officially my new favourite treat! So refreshing and tangy, they fulfilled my sugar craving but are 100% natural and are only 74 calories per pack!

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I still have the plum and ginger Garden Cider chilling- waiting for our Great British summer time to begin..But I will be checking in again to see what other delights are on offer. With everything from specialist cheeses to chutneys to charcuterie to meringues and olive oil. There is always an occasion for a foodie treat!

Check out www.caprera.com

16 Apr 2016

Look no further for great food, prison cells and the best night’s sleep in London

No Comments food, my words, review

cocktails_voltaire_diaryofafashiondarling

I was eagerly awaiting my visit to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blackfriars, not only for the champagne and cigar bar (I don’t do cigars!) but for the taster menus in all the three of their restaurants.

Most luxury hotels are able to provide finger licking food in at least one or two on site restaurants, but due to popular demand, and the prime location in London’s Square Mile, the CP Blackfriars has three dynamic dining rooms. With the award-winning Italian restaurant, Diciannove which is so authentic, you will be ciao ciao-ing with the waiters in no time- the perfect place for romance, or for those who love to linger over plates of delicious pasta, bread and a good red.

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The Sichuan inspired Chinese Cricket Club, is on a different level (literally),  and has a wide selection of mouth-watering regional and dim sum specialities- with names that I have never heard of, I can confirm it has a great view. A proper restaurant in it’s own right, you won’t be rubbing shoulders with suits dining alone, looking furtively at their phones awaiting super important business calls! It is a thoroughly relaxing, almost zen experience, which is a godsend in central London!

However, if you are looking for a quick fix, and need somewhere for a meeting, burger, cocktails or afternoon tea, the Lobby Lounge is the ideal choice and super accommodating for parties of all numbers. Comfortable, intimate and friendly, there is something for everyone and you can linger as long as you like.

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After your taste buds have been tickled, it is well worth a visit to the Voltaire Bar  for a cocktail or two; If you want to impress book one of the super quirky, grade II-listed vaults which double as heated private dens for parties and couples alike. With a cocktail, champagne and cigar menu, waiters will serve you in one of King Henry VIII’s royal Bridewell Palace come prison come bank vaults, and you can groove to your own choice of tunes on the sound system.

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With a full belly and intoxicated mind, the good folk at Crowne Plaza offer the icing on the proverbial cake when you are ready to retire. In every one of their 204 luxury rooms, you can get the perfect night’s sleep by using the ingenious addition of This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray and Deep Sleep Stress Less, mini kit. A simple waft on your pillow and swish across your temples turned me into a sleeping baby. And it had nothing to do with the copious amount of cocktails. Honest!!

For more info, visit www.crowneplaza.com

 

 

 

22 Mar 2016

The best caviar this side of Sochi

No Comments fashion, flush magazine, food, review

It’s tough being asked to sample new restaurants, honest!

But this one in Soho, underneath Ronnie Scotts, was just the right shade of dark and seductive to entince me in. With the promise of Russian Street food, I didn’t really know what to expect, but the nibbles were very easy to digest, and like Arnie, ‘I’ll be back’!

Read my review for Flush magazine here:

www.flushthefashion.com/food

zima_review_flush_magazine

21 Mar 2016

Sara Darling TV Presenter

No Comments fashion, film, food

I’ve just been asked to dig out my reel for someone and thought I’d share. One of the most fun days I have had at work- eating tapas and drinking champagne!

One New Change- the only place to shop and eat in the city!

www.onenewchange.com/sara-darling-freelance-stylist

 

 

25 Jan 2016

The Meat Co: A treat for those who like meat

No Comments food, my words, review

The Meat Co is described in the industry as a vibrant steakhouse. That sounded promising! And when I visited on a frosty Wednesday evening, good vibes, great smells and a vast menu definitely warmed my spirits. With South African heritage boasting a strong reputation since 2000, I knew I would be in for a treat.

Always being a bit of a safe option meat eater, knowing what I like and sticking to that, I was intrigued to see what this cavernous restaurant had to offer on it’s extensive menu. I raised an eyebrow that it didn’t just offer meat! Vegetarians, pescitarians and Kosher customers are catered for, and the choice was plentiful, making it a perfect place for a party.

I shied away from going from my usual choice of fish, and persuaded by the very knowledgable waiter and the sight of other diner’s dishes, I settled for a started of chilli prawns and a main of short barbeque ribs. With the juicy prawns deliciously accompanied by a round of rice, and thick cut chips and a side of creamed spinach with the main, it turned out to be a feast fit for a King! Always a little over zealous, I find it’s better to over order incase you aren’t that keen on something, but with my dining companion having very different tastes, I think the combination of adventurous and more habitual, worked in perfect harmony.

And it was with regret, but halo still intact, that we swerved the bread menu- which included chocolate and beetroot and potato and onion. The adventurous choice sounded delicious, but might have pushed even my gluttony to the limit!

Being much more familiar with the cuts of steak on offer, my dinner date ordered scallops and kangaroo (not at the same time to be fair!) with asparagus and potato gratin, which she devoured with ease. Apparently it is quite game-ey with a tougher texture than beef… I was quite sure I made the right choice with my melt in the mouth ribs thanks!

With the interior designed by New York’s Jorge Castillo, the interior takes on a cool NY vibe. The wine wall is definitely a feature and displays nearly 2000 bottles, and the wine list is pretty impressive too.

An open kitchen, halal menu and seperate dining area if requested, along with a contemporary menu of skewers, burgers, salads and seafood along with the prime cuts of meat, make this the perfect pit stop after a hard day’s shopping at Westfield, or it’s big enough for a group, and romantic enough for a first date. Whatever your excuse- go hungry and leave satisfied!

http://www.themeatco.com/

Unit 1026
Westfield Shopping Centre
London, W12 7GA

02080228017

Photographs by Emma Crosby

 

 

 

 

06 Dec 2015

December Dining on The Thames

No Comments food, my words, news, review

December means treats, and this week has involved lots of treats!

It was a dark and wintry night, and when the rest of London was getting in to Christmas party season, I was still milking my birthday! The perks of being a Saggi means that there are no shortage of things to do at this time of year, and going for pre drinks at the Butler’s Wharf Chop House, and dinner at the Blueprint Cafe was a feast I had been looking forward to.

Perfectly situated just close enough to the City, but on the right side so not full of City boys, the Chop House is a very well disguised Conran gem; Large and atmospheric with a seperate bar area and restaurant, this is the best place I have been south side of the river for cocktails! Buzzy but not too busy, I would highly recommend this for a large group, although with my plus one, we got extra special attention and some great advice choosing from the vast cocktail list!

With much willpower, I stopped at two drinks, and sashayed two minutes furter east, to the restaurant du nuit. Nestled on the first floor of the Design Museum, the Blueprint Cafe, is not your typical cafe; Coffee and cake is well and truly left to the downstairs museum eatery, this is definitely for a more discerning palate!

Predictably you might expect it to be full of culture vultures, but on this crisp Tuesday evening, it was not overly full, and I claimed a window table with perfect views of Tower Brigde and Canary Wharf.

Airy, spacious and unpretentious and the menu pleasantly varied with a modern European slant. My impressed date was even more impressed when I told him we were amongst the first to sample the new Head Chef Owen Owen Kenworthy’s menu. Hailing from Brawn on Columbia Road, his reputation exceeded him, and the rib eye steak with smashed potato, and poached halibut with clams and saffron potato did not disappoint. The fresh flavours were complemented by the vast wine list, and our starters of delicious Dorset crab ravioli and Abruzzo bean soup, left us wondering how good our other choices would have been! Too much choice is not often something I struggle with on a menu, but here is was tough!  As it was (allegedly) still my birthday, I ‘made’ my date have the cheesecake for desert too..Just so I could try it!

Having spent a very self indulgent evening, people watching and wishing that house prices on the river were not quite so ludicrous, we eventually dragged ourselves away.

But with the bottomless brunch every Saturday (with prosecco), I think I made a date for that next week too!

http://www.blueprintcafe.co.uk

http://www.chophouse-restaurant.co.uk/

29 Nov 2015

For a taste of Hawaii, try KAU ‘AINA

No Comments food, my words, review

Aloha, it’s that time to think about a bit of Christmas shopping (I am allowed to mention the C word as it is now only three shopping weekends to go!!!)

After battling the masses, you will need to stop somewhere for a re-fuel of energy; And if this involves central London, I would highly recommend a pit stop at the delicious and hearty Hawaiian (small but perfectly formed chain) Kua Aina, which has been serving burgers and ‘wiches since 75.

Nestled close to the shopping district of Carnaby Street and on the less hectic Goodge Street, the menu and cocktails will certainly lift your spirits to sunnier climes. With a new December menu, you can go light and get some nibbles or one of the extra special super salads… or add some calories- you deserve them after all, shopping is terribly tiring!

Greeted by friendly staff dressed in floral shirts and colourful leis, the beach themed bar and diner was buzzing. The open grill and wooden tables made for a relaxed, informal meal.  The food is perfect for picking and sharing, but get extra napkins as it will get messy!

With an ample menu, I would go hungry, and then you won’t feel too guilty at sharing a selection of starters, which range from onion rings to coconut king prawns to nachos. The burgers are predictably hearty and come with an array of toppings. With President Obama as a fan, he plumps for the avocado burger. You can order sandwiches too- my fave would be the Mahi Mahi fishfinger sandwich, and I would definitely add a side of sweet potato fries.

Vegetarians/pescitarians are well catered for with halloumi and tuna seared to perfection. Don’t forget to add a sprinkle of the secret salt, which adds something exotic!

Christmas is well and truly in the air, and I am planning a return visit, just to sample the Mele Kalikimaka, Christmas Lua set menu. At £19.95 per head, you can choose from a turkey, bacon and brie sandwich, Christmas burger with stuffing and cranberry sauce or a sage and onion Portobello mushroom bap. Served with skin on fries and coleslaw, it’s definitely an alternative to soggy roast potatoes and sprouts!

With cocktails a specialty, it would be rude not to try one (or two), and try a hard shake if your calorie count is well and truly out of the window! If you can’t make it to Hawaii, you can certainly get into the groove in London. Opening soon in Belfast too.

http://kua-aina.co.uk/