London is not only a buzzing European metropolis full of cultural heritage and extraordinary shopping but it also is an amazing foodie hot spot. I love exploring markets, food shops, have afternoon tea and sample seasonal produce or some faraway cuisine. I want to do it all, so I have to PLAN. Here are my tips how to plan a foodie weekend in London and some of my favourite spots.
WHAT CHEF, WHAT RESTAURANT FOR DINNER? – First, I plan a GREAT culinary meal; this can be a Michelin star restaurant or a renowned Chef’s new brasserie. So I do my HOMEWORK: I research online (blogs and magazine & newspapers reviews such the Telegraph.co.uk) but also ask my fellow foodie friends for recommendations. Often those places require reservations long in advance so I lock that in as soon as possible. Have I been known to change my travel dates to accommodate a restaurant reservation? Absolutely! So where to go? Turn on your telly and you can’t zap fast enough these days or you land on a culinary program; which of course I totally adore. There are food channels and cooking shows dedicated to all kinds of cuisines and chefs. A recent discovery of mine and already an intense favourite is Netflix Chef’s table; where Chefs out of the ordinary dig deep to showcase what their food is about, where the drive to desperately create comes from and how their family life has to play second fiddle. Something I am but too familiar with growing up in a professional kitchen. I keep a BUCKET LIST of (in)famous chefs all over the world (UK: Raymond Blanc, Tom Kitchin, Josh Katz, Elizabeth Allen, Monica Galetti, Gordon Ramsey, Marcus Wareing, Heston Blumenthal, Tom Kerridge, Nathan Outlaw & Sat Bains) and extraordinary restaurants (London: The Chiltern Firehouse, The Gallery @Sketch, The Ledbury) and consult it when planning a trip; this prepares me for last minute travels to fulfil a foodie dream instantaneously.
LUNCH NOSTALGIA– Food on-the-go is not really my thing, I am forced to stomach it when working but when a foodie weekend is on the books, food will be had seated and with complete focus. However, by my own doing, my jam-packed schedule sometimes obliges me to stop into Pret-a-Manger for a quick wrap, banana bread and ginger beer, but I love it! Barely arrived in London, it is a safe bet you will find me in Notting Hill at Granger for lunch, ordering everything on the menu and stuffing my face with gorgeous full flavour, seasonal foods while practically speechless sipping on a white peach Bellini. Bill Granger is a self-taught Australian chef and entrepreneur with now a multitude of cafés around the world. I have been lucky to linger at his places in Sydney and Bondi beach as well as in London. It is for me such joy and excitement; I just can’t skip it when in London. So find yourself a lunch place you GO BACK to time and again; a place you share with friends, or just selfishly have some ME-time. And I highly recommend that is first on your agenda to start off the weekend nursing that nostalgia.
TEA – Next I focus on where I want to have afternoon cream tea and when; that day I will for sure skip either lunch or dinner. There are soooo many splendid afternoon teas in London to pick: from posh to low key, from full-on to simple, WITH BUBBLY or without. I have my favourites (Browns, Fortnum & Mason and Claridge’s) who never disappoint but I want to try each time a new place. Must haves are: a premier tea selection, fresh dainty sandwiches, scones and clotted cream and of course I can never resist a deliciously creamy Victoria sponge.
JUST FOOD – Consulting a second food bucket list of mine with random food places I read about. This can be a market, a store, a farm, a vineyard, a distillery or a museum. London’s Borough market is high on the list, but also the Daylesford Farm Shop in Notting Hill is usually stop. Harrods Food Halls are not only pleasing for first time tourists but also a good place to take a break have some bubbly and a nibble or the buy a white peach out of season, oh yes don’t mind if I do indeed. I love checking out the NEW COLLECTION of: table lines, flatware, stemware and china at large department stores (John Lewis, Selfridges, Liberty) especially during sales and linger in small boutiques in Covent Garden or Shoreditch.
REST YOUR HEAD – After all that food and walking around you need a good night rest or at least a refreshing shower, I am a bit of a hotel snob as I prefer smaller boutiques 5 star hotels or trendy casual easy going places. I like a more personalised service and they house some good food establishments as well. Some of my favourites to stay are: Rocco Forte Browns Hotel, Warwick The Capital Hotel, The Levin, Ham Yard Hotel and The Laslett.
written by Sandra Slawinski – all photos taken by Sandra Slawinski