X’mas Eve @ Bernerds Tavern, Edition Horel

Merry Christmas, everyone!
Hope you are having a joyous holiday with your loved ones.
Hubbie & I are having a lazy lie-in this morning because we stayed up rather late last night. We celebrated our Christmas Eve at Berners Taverm, The London Edition on Berners Street.
I was eyeing this particular restaurant with curiosity every time I caught a glimpse of their amazing looking dining room through the windows. So when Hubbie asked me where I would like to be taken to for the dinner on the 24th, I didn’t hesitate to nominate the place.

We arrived at the hotel at 19:00 sharp. The hotel was a stone’s throw from the Sanderson, by the way…

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A funky looking Christmas tree graced the lobby…

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The restaurant was busy with brimful of diners already…

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Don’t you love their decor?…

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Shortly afterward, we were led to our table…

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Every space on the walls was hung with frames arts and it was quite a sight…

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From my seat, I could get a glimpse of their sleek kitchen and I loved the contrast between modem and old-fashioned…

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For starters, I had “Orkney scallop ceviche, avocado, radish, baby gem, jalapeño and lime ice”…

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I had no idea what to expect from the description on the menu. It was best described as “a mini salad arrangement for finicky eater”. The green blob in the middle was avocado sorbet. It was a fun to eat dish.

Hubbie opted for “Egg, Ham & Pea”…

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Deep fried Clarence Court duck egg, mushy peas and crispy Cumbrian ham. It seemed to be the most popular starter and everyone else was ordering it too.

The service at the restaurant was an absolute top class…

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The staffs were very knowledgeable and attentive. Discreet yet very amicable. We had a few brief but entertaining chat with them.

For main course, we decided share “Roasted shoulder of Romney Marsh lamb, chargrilled cabbage, roasted parsnips and mint pesto”…

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When the dish was brought out to the table, I went momentarily speechless because it looked HUGE!
The waiter carved meat off the bone and distributed it on our plates. Can I manage it? I was in serious doubt…

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The lamb tasted delicious. It was succulent and flavoursome. The mint pesto was minty but not overpowering. And the duck fat chips, they were divine! I ate as much as I could, but yet again, I was defeated by the volume of the serving. Across the table, I could see Hubbie was struggling with it too. While his jaw moving mechanically, his eyes were fixed to no certain point and glazed over, as if he was contemplating when to throw the towel in.
I patted his hand which was clenching a fork and whispered, ‘You can put it down now. Or otherwise you can’t have dessert’.

Then, it was time for dessert. I opted for “Warm cinnamon donut, 70% chocolate ganache, almond sorbet”…

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When it was brought to me like this, I wasn’t very impressed. But who wouldn’t? A ball in the dish and 2 scoops of plain-looking sorbet in a separate bowl???
I just looked up at the waitress with a perplexed expression. And she nodded at me with a sympathetic smile, ‘I know. Just break the donut and have it with the sorbet. They taste amazing together’.

So I did exactly that…

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And she was right, it tasted fantastic!!
The person who invented it was a genius. It blew me away. The harmony created by bitter chocolate ganache, cinnamon and almond was distinctive yet complimentary. And eating a freshly made hot donuts with ice-cold sorbet was amazing.

While I was raving about my dessert, Hubbie quietly enjoyed his “Toasted coconut crème brûlée, pineapple,,coconut and Malibu sorbet”…

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Have you ever seen crème brûlée in a square shape?

With our tummy more than full, we walked out to the lobby. Then, I noticed a large egg shape mirror suspended from the ceiling…

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Why didn’t I spot it when I walked in? I was too hungry to see anything else other than the entrance to the restaurant!

After picking up our car at his office, we detoured to Trafalgar Square…

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It started to rain hard and the square was completely deserted. Still, I was very happy to see the tree illuminated eventually…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Benugo @ Hanover Street

I was just about to have a large bite out of toasted sandwich at Benugo, off Regent Street.
Next to me, a trio of Italian ladies were seated, chatting animatedly and having a hearty laugh. I wished if I understood Italian so I could participate in their fun!
West End seemed to have calmed down. People on the street were pushing suitcases which must be stuffed with the gifts for loved ones or sauntering with smiles on their faces. No longer, anyone was zooming around with a sense of urgency edged on its forehead. Just quiet expectation and satisfaction were sailing in the air.
My final task in London, apart from packing a suitcase for Japan trip, was a visit to a hair salon. My hair was to be highlighted, tinted & cut, therefore, I must have a proper sustenance before sitting down in front of the mirror or my stomach would ramble like a roaring lion!

Amongst many chain sandwich places in London, I single out Benugo for their more than passable coffee and good quality food. And today, I had egg Florentine and latte…

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I love their toasted sandwiches…

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They are even more agreeable when the outside is cold and windy.

Once my quick bite was finished, I was off to my hairdresser’s.
Highlighting and tinting took ages. The time was spent with chatting, reading magazines and looking the world went by through the window…

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Then, off to home to change for dinner. London was winding down for Christmas at last…

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And people were heading home too…

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Are you ready for Christmas too?…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Wet, Wet, Wet…

What a tempestuous weather it was! Apart from picking up boots from my trusted cobbler which was conveniently situated just a few minutes away from my flat, I was at home and looking at an incessant rain pelting down from the grey sky all day yesterday. The last-minutes grocery shopping in the afternoon was cancelled because the weather looked too unpleasant and we had stocked up more than enough foods to go through during Christmas already.

Mr.B was not impressed with the weather either. Hiding inside the Strawberry HQ & waiting for me to sit down so he could climb up on my lap…

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No, I am not ready to receive you yet. I have to unload a washing machine first…

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Are you telling me that there is no law forbidding me to do a laundry on Christmas Day or Boxing Day? Yes, I know but I don’t want to…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Moomin Valley @ Covent Garden

It’s only two more days before Christmas Day!
Apparently, today’s lunchtime will be the busiest shopping time of the year. I can imagine the people scrambling for a last-minute shopping on the shop floors all over the Britain. On last Christmas Eve, I was one of them, being lost at the cosmetic counter in John Lewis, and didn’t know which till was available to pay. The frenzy transformed normally queue-respecting British shoppers into a desperate crowd, jockeying for position at the counters, doing everything to catch the attention of the staffs. It was a crazy sight and I vowed myself never to repeat the experience again.

For a more leisurely and magical Christmas retail escapade, Covent Garden is more apt for it…

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A unmissable reindeer will be a perfect landmark for meeting up.

The arcade is beautifully decorated with giant baubles…

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One shop I especially recommend for gift-hunting is The Moomin Shop

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As a child, growing up in Japan, the Moomins had been a familiar fixture through animations and cartoons…

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Therefore I was very excited when I learnt that the Moomin Shop were opening in Covent Garden – apart from Tokyo, London would be the first city to house the plump troll family out of their native Finland.

The shop is upstairs and adorable murals depicting the Moomin Valley gently nudge you up the stairs…

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The shop floor is compact and cozy…

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The staffs are knowledgeable & helpful and huge Moomin fans, of course!

On display are a collection of Moomin merchandise.
Cutlery, plates and lunch-boxes for children…

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Toys & bibs for babies and toddlers…

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Books & shopping bags…

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More bags & toiletries…

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Satchels & cushions…

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Cookie cutters…

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And a pretty apron with Snork Maiden for a little princess…

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I highly recommend the shop for anyone who is stuck with gift ideas but can’t face the crowd on Oxford Street.

It is rather sad that we will have to say good-bye to those pretty lights once Christmas is gone…

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Thanks to them, longer winter nights have been turned into more enchanting experience, haven’t they?
I shall miss them very much…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Tramshed @ Rivington Street, EC2

Don’t mention the “C” word, please!
I mean no “Chicken”, “Chips” or “Cider”. Hubbie & I dined at Tramshed on Rivington Street and were stuffed with roast chicken & chips up to our throats. On our way home, we kept on reminding each other, ‘Don’t mention the C-word!’

We arrived at the restaurant on foot at 13:00 sharp…

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I remember that there used to be a large steel shutter in front of the building. The original electric generating station was so discreet that I didn’t realise it was there at all.
Now, the shed offered an airy multi-story dining space and artworks by Damian Hirst…

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In the middle of the main dining  space, Damien Hirst’s cow & chicken in formaldehyde was hoisted up…

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How do the cow & chicken feel about us gorging ourselves with steak and roast chicken?

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I felt a pang of guilt while being seated underneath the sculpture.

The main course was deadly simple – roast chicken or steak. We opted for sharing their barn-reared Indian Rock chicken with wild garlic sauce and chips.

For starter, we nibbled on Yorkshire pudding with whipped chicken liver…

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Ahhhh, overly keen (& hungry) Hubbie snatched the Yorkshire pudding before I had a chance to take photos!

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The whipped chicken liver was delicious. It was bursting with flavour without being too rich.

For drink, we tried Temperley’s Mulled Cider…

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It was concocted from Burrow Hill cider, apple juice, Kingston Black aperitif, blackberries and spices.
I must say it was simply divine. We both agreed that we could drink it all afternoon!

Then, our plat de résistance, roast chicken with chips…

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I don’t know why but the way it was presented – the chicken’s feet tied up, reminded me a painting by Francis Bacon. While we beheld this unusual sight, a waitress produced a large kitchen knife, with which she sliced off the chicken’s feet and then carved off legs for us…

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A large spoon was stuck in the rear end of the chicken so we could dig out the stuffing from inside. The scene was how should I put it… rather brutal.

For side dish, we ordered sautéed Brussels sprout tops…

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My plate before I commenced the assault…

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By the end of the meal, I was utterly defeated by the volume of the serving. Hubbie struggled on a little longer but had to throw in the towel. The roast chicken with chips would certainly feed three adults, not two. For dessert, I am afraid to report that we didn’t sample any of it because we were too full. Therefore, we just settled the bill and left the restaurant.
I think the place will be a fun venue to dine before embarking on a night out in Shoreditch. Even though the restaurant is well-known for their carnivorous menu, they also offer a vegetarian & pescetarian menu too. So nobody will be disappointed or go hungry.

With our stomach stuffed more than full, we staggered out to Rivington Street…

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Mirror-balls as a Christmas decoration. What a brilliant idea! Can we have a street party?

Then, we walked to our favourite bookshop, Artwords Bookshop

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I just love standing there turning pages forever…

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They inspire me endlessly…

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The wind was blowing relentlessly and kept the temperature low. However, because of it, the sky was largely cloudless…

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I brought home a magazine “The Gourmand“…

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But I am still too full to read it. For tonight’s supper, we are eating another “C-word” food. Guess what? It’s gonna be toasted crumpets & jam!!

A few more days to go through and it’s Christmas. How time flies…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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