Tag Archives: American girl in London

Green Card Celebrations

One of the perks of marrying an American, besides the great chat and endless fun, is getting one of those coveted green card thingys. I don’t see what all the fuss is about, but my better half thought it might be novel to have one to pad his wallet. So we hit the gilded streets of Mayfair on a glorious golden morning for our prescheduled appointment at the American Embassy.

London Mount Street Mayfair

Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, Mayfair

Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, Mayfair

Embassy of the United States, London

Embassy of the United States, London

We arrived at Grosvenor Square and were promptly processed through a few lines, then hung out briefly in the main waiting room watching enticing American travel videos on a big screen, before our number was called. After a quick chat, everything was deemed to be in order, and the application was approved!

US Embassy Visa Success

Feeling very accomplished, we headed off to celebrate over a meal…

At my all-time favourite lunch spot, The River Cafe.

River Cafe Lunch Outside

Sipping prosecco with fresh blood orange, we attempted the universal puzzle of deciding what dishes to order.

River Cafe Lunch Menu

Which is no problem, because you simply cannot go wrong!

Insalata di Carciofi - raw Violetta artichoke salad with Parmigiano Reggiano

Insalata di Carciofi – raw Violetta artichoke salad with Parmigiano Reggiano

Calamari ai ferri - chargrilled squid with fresh red chilli & wild rocket

Calamari ai ferri – chargrilled squid with fresh red chilli & wild rocket

Calamari ai ferri - chargrilled squid with fresh chilli & wild rocket

Calamari ai ferri – chargrilled squid with fresh chilli & wild rocket

River Cafe Lunch beer cheers

Spiedino ai ferri - chargrilled scallops & monkfish on a rosemary stick with sea kale, risina beans and anchovy and rosemary sauce

Spiedino ai ferri – chargrilled scallops & monkfish on a rosemary stick with sea kale, risina beans and anchovy and rosemary sauce

Piccione al forno - whole Anjou pigeon wood-roasted in Brunello di Montalcino with potato, radicchio, sage & pancetta al forno

Piccione al forno – whole Anjou pigeon wood-roasted in Brunello di Montalcino with potato, radicchio, sage & pancetta al forno

This pigeon was declared in “the top three” dishes, ever. Which, in other words, is about as good as it gets!

Dessert had to be accompanied by a frosty glass of limoncello. And even after, pleasantly stuffed, we were still reluctant to peel ourselves away from the table.

Pannacotta with Grappa & Rhubarb

Pannacotta with Grappa & Rhubarb

Strolling along the banks of the Thames, we passed Hammersmith Bridge and all the grand residences lining the Lower Mall.

Hammersmith Bridge

Hammersmith Riverside House

We came across The Dove, a pub we’ve been aching to visit, so we wandered in for a drink and a look around. The Dove sits right on the water, making it a popular place to watch the annual boat race.

Hammersmith The Dove

Hammersmith The Dove Front

Hammersmith the Dove Seating Inside

Hammersmith The Dove Drink

Hammersmith The Dove Rainy Day

A cosy place to while away a rainy London afternoon. And now that our days here are numbered, we are clinging to the romance of these bleak and wet days more than ever!

Little Chelsea Fish Market

Spring is abloom in London!

Redcliffe Square is dotted with pale pink blossoms. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and at long last I can go outside without a coat!

Redcliffe Sq Park

Redcliffe Square Blossoms

Redcliffe Square Balcony View

A pretty little day like this demands a stroll for lunch, and we found the perfect spot – the newly opened Little Chelsea Fish Market. They’ve only been in business for three weeks, but they’re already serving up a delicious seafood menu with fresh fish delivered daily from boats off the English coast.

Little Chelsea Fish Market Sign

LCFM Dining Room

The restaurant is bright and colourful, with an elegant swirl of jazz piano playing softly above.

LCFM Veg

LFCM Fish Stall

The menu changes with the seasons, but the daily catch and fresh organic ingredients are all on display. You can even pick your own salad, where you choose items from the shelf and the chef assembles your selections back in the kitchen!

LCFM Sea Bass

LCFM Vegetables Basket

While we waited for our first course to arrive, I slipped Eddie a little going-away present, Garden & Gun’s The Southerner’s Handbook. I figure he could do with some brushing up on the culture and customs of the American South before we arrive in Charleston.

LCFM Present

LCFM Southerners Guidebook

Our food arrived, and we didn’t waste time tucking right in!

Cucumber, rocket and ricotta salad

Cucumber, rocket and ricotta salad

Bolinhos de trout: fluffy trout and potato croquettes, honey aioli

Bolinhos de trout: fluffy trout and potato croquettes, honey aioli

Mushroom risotto, creamy arborio rice with wild mushrooms, herbs and grant padano

Mushroom risotto, creamy arborio rice with wild mushrooms, herbs and grant padano

Clam Linguini: black ink pasta with baby clams, white wine, garlic and coral butter

Clam Linguini: black ink pasta with baby clams, white wine, garlic and coral butter

LCFM Squid Ink Clam Pasta

LCFM Lunchtime Smile

 

A charming little restaurant – this place is a welcome addition to Hollywood Road. There’s a terrace out back which is sure to be a perfect spot for al fresco dining come spring and summer. Wishing them lots of success for the future!

Sea Containers

Mondrian has arrived in London!  A familiar name we all know and love. For me, the brand conjures memories of an epic stay in Miami celebrating Art Basel many, many moons ago. This one is decidedly more Southbank than South Beach, but sits proudly on the water, the mighty River Thames. Housed in part of the old Sea Containers building, the new hotel has an understated nautical theme, and vibrant river views from its new ground floor restaurant.

We went to check it out on a blazingly bright afternoon for lunch.

Sea Containers From Blackfriars Bridge

Blackfriars Bridge Treacy Black Felt Hat

Sea Containers Dining Room

Sea Containers Dining Room Crest We Serve

Never take pils on an empty stomach.

Never take pils on an empty stomach.

There’s quite a bit of seafood on the menu, which is no problem for me! We ordered a selection of starters, then shared a chicken and a sea bass.

Raw scallops with cilantro, espelette pepper and drizzled with Arbequina olive oil

Raw scallops with cilantro, espelette pepper and drizzled with Arbequina olive oil

Crab salad on toast, with pickled peppers & citrus aioli

Crab salad on toast, with pickled peppers & citrus aioli

Oven-roasted Lamb Meatballs with soft sheep's milk cheese, cucumber and a Moroccan spiced vinaigrette

Oven-roasted Lamb Meatballs with soft sheep’s milk cheese, cucumber and a Moroccan spiced vinaigrette

Smoked and Roasted Corn-fed Chicken with  charred lemon vinaigrette

Smoked and Roasted Corn-fed Chicken with
charred lemon vinaigrette

Shredded Kale Salad with apple, pecans, avocado, yoghurt, chilies and a dill vinaigrette

Shredded Kale Salad with apple, pecans, avocado, yoghurt, chilies and a dill vinaigrette

Roasted Mediterranean Sea Bass  with citrus, salsa verde

Roasted Mediterranean Sea Bass with
citrus, salsa verde

Sea Containers Lunch Apple Pie

The desserts were great, and they even let us order a crème brulee off menu.

Sea Containers Lunch Creme Brulee

Sea Containers Faces

Sea Containers Faces Smiles

The sun was setting as we finished lunch (damn you, winter days!), so we headed upstairs to the rooftop bar, Rumpus Room, for the view – and ended up staying a little bit longer than planned.

Rumpus Room Signage

Rumpus Room Area

Rumpus Room Bar

With unobstructed views across the pulsing heart of London’s business and financial district, the rooftop terrace is no doubt going to be a popular al fresco destination this spring and summer. Have fun, people!

Rumpus Room Outside Rooftop Bar

Rumpus Room View

Rumpus Room View Rooftop Thames

Rumpus Room Drinks Table

The drinks were impressive (aka exceptionally strong) and before we knew it, we were all a bit sozzled.

Rumpus Room Drinks

Rumpus Room Rooftop Silly face

The only thing I would say if you visit Rumpus Room (and you aren’t expensing it to the bank you work for) – check your itemized bill before paying. The service is attentive and pleasant, but they definitely added extra items to our check that we didn’t order. Other than that, go forth and enjoy!

Petersham Nurseries Candlelit Carols

Petersham Nurseries is one of the gems of suburban London. It’s not your typical garden center – it’s possibly the chicest, bohemian greenhouse wonderland I’ve ever encountered.

The vast grounds near Richmond were saved from developers by an Italian businessman and his Aussie wife, and they’ve since redesigned the gardens, opened a Michelin star restaurant, a rustic teahouse, and a vast garden shop full of salvaged homewares, antique furniture and vintage garden décor.

And it happens to be the premier place in town to rekindle that old-fashioned Christmas spirit!

Petersham Nurseries Teahouse

The event was a candlelit evening of Christmas carols and shopping!

Petersham Nurseries Shop

As we entered the packed dirt-floored nursery, we were handed a ticket for a free cup of mulled wine. Crumbly mince pies were also on hand to nibble as a group of singers from Barnes Choir filled the café with the beautiful harmony of Christmas carols.

Petersham Nurseries Mulled Wine Ticket

Petersham Nurseries Carols Mulled Wine Mince Pie

Petersham Nurseries Carols Sip

Petersham Nurseries Carols Santa

Petersham Nurseries Carollers

Petersham Nurseries Carols Tree

Petersham Nurseries Carols

The space was heaving with fir trees and berries, shiny red baubles, and twinkling fairy lights – it was a magical Christmas dreamland!

Petersham Nurseries Shop Plants

Still humming “Jingle Bells”, we wandered around perusing the shop! My eyes didn’t know which way to look first – left or right, up or down. Every inch of the place was covered in vintage prints, gilded mirrors, antique chandeliers, homemade wreaths, scented candles and soaps, and heaps of Christmas ornaments.

Petersham Nurseries Shop Walls

Petersham Nurseries Shopping

Petersham Nurseries Shop Putti

Petersham Nurseries Shop Baubles

Petersham Nurseries Shop Crocuses

Petersham Nurseries Shop Mirror Reflection

Petersham Nurseries Shop Hobnail Pitcher

Petersham Nurseries Shop Baubles Tree

This shop is one of my top recommendations for finding unique Christmas gifts!

And I couldn’t pick a place with more charming Christmas cheer.

Le Chalet at Selfridges

Christmas is two weeks away!

And is this not the most enthusiastic face you’ve ever seen on a man about to head into the holiday hullabaloo that is Christmas shopping on Oxford Street?

Eddie Tube

Our destination: Selfridges.

Essentially, the British version of Macy’s – and a magnet for retail tourism.

Their window displays have become a destination in their own right. Framed in twinkling pine boughs, this year’s theme is fairy tales. Leave it to a department store (founded by an American) to take the enchantment and imagination of childhood fantasies and sell them back to us as merchandising.

Selfridges Bagpiper

Selfridges Window Display Gold Fairytale

Though the fairy tale theme is hardly original, consumers are especially susceptible to their familiar notions of romance and happiness during the holiday period. If, for some people, that happiness just happens to be Chinese handbags stamped with the name of a certain Project Runway star, who am I to judge?*

Selfridges Window Display Winter 2014

Selfridges Window Display Villian

Selfridges Hat in Hand Outside Pine Boughs

Selfridges Window Paddington Tax

Paddington Bear is back on the scene again.

Selfridges Window Paddington

I even bumped into him as we staggered through crowds on the 4th floor Christmas Shop.

Selfridges Paddington

After checking our lists twice and whizzing through the queues for the register, we made tracks to the roof terrace for lunch at the Alpine-themed Le Chalet.

Selfridges Le Chalet Entrance

Selfridges Le Chalet Table

Seated by the window with a view over Mayfair’s pink skies, we could wrestle our bags under the table and order a much-needed drink.

Selfridges Le Chalet Window Seat

Selfridges Le Chalet View

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Ed

And I’m not talking about a glass of chardonnay…

At Le Chalet, it’s all about the “Choctails”! Served from the hot chocolate bar, these cocoa toddies are deliriously sweet and incredibly boozy! Sip with extreme caution!

Selfridges Le Chalet Choctails

Hazelnut "Choctail"

Hazelnut “Choctail”

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I ordered the Hazelnut, and it was blinkin’ delicious!

While the sugar rush hit our bloodstream, we ordered a few nibbles to fortify us through the rest of the shopping day ahead.

Gooey raclette with sliceds of dry cured beef, pickles and potatoes

Gooey raclette with sliceds of dry cured beef, pickles and potatoes

Selfridges Le Chalet Raclette

Cornish crab with pickled celeriac & mustard

Cornish crab with pickled celeriac & mustard

Peppered tuna with wasabi avocado

Peppered tuna with wasabi avocado

The interlude was just what we needed before round two of Christmas madness resumed.

Selfridges Yoda

A very jolly day out shopping, we had!

*His bags are selling like hotcakes to the English gals (seriously)! So out of awe and admiration to the guy, here’s a tribute to everyone’s favourite reality fashion show personality.

Halloween Pumpkin & Hot Apple Cider

Ooh, the air is brisk and the clocks have gone back! The leaves don’t change color in London, (they just turn brown and die) but they’re starting to fall! And tomorrow is Halloween!

I’m missing my east coast autumn for sure, but trying to get in the spirit of the season. So I rummaged through my pantry for some hot apple cider supplies, and got ready to carve my pumpkin!

Hot Mulled Cider Ingredients

Hot Mulled Cider Ingredients Close

I spiced my cider by putting all the ingredients in a saucepan over simmering heat.

Hot Mulled Cider Step 1 Pan

Hot Mulled Cider Step 2 Orange

Squeezed in the juice of a clementine and a splash of dark rum.

Hot Mulled Cider Step 3 Rum

While my brew heated up, I settled down to design my jack-o’-lantern, drawing on its features with a Sharpie.

Pumpkin Draw

Pumpkin Draw Eyes

Next, is my favorite part – cutting out the lid around the stem, then scooping out all the pulp and seeds.

Pumpkin Step 2 Cut Top

Pumpkin Step 3 remove Seeds

Pumpkin Step 3 Remove Seeds Handful

With my mug of hot spiced cider (a perfect hand-warmer!) close by, I used a thin flexible fillet knife to carefully saw out the eyes and mouth of the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Step 4 Cider

Pumpkin Step 6 Done

Isn’t he cute??

Pumpkin Step 5 Done

Don’t let all those pumpkin seeds go to waste! Rinse them clean and place them on a parchment covered baking sheet to roast in the oven. This time, I sprinkled them with Old Bay, popped them in and left to bake for 20 minutes.

Seeds Tray

Seeds Old Bay

Seeds Old Bay Sprinkled

They came out perfectly toasted, with that familiar Maryland flavor filling the kitchen!

Seeds Into Bowl

Seeds in Bowl

These Old Bay roasted pumpkin seeds make the perfect crunchy snack, sure to be gone long before the trick-or-treaters come knocking.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Apple Cider Recipe

Fulham Palace Picnic

Summer is fleeting. Before we know it, August will be gone and with it those sunlit balmy days perfect for an afternoon playing outdoors. Saturday I woke up with the curtains fluttering in the breeze and a radiant blue sky peeking through the window. It was a day so glorious, practically tugging me out of bed – a day that screamed “picnic”!

So we packed up the hamper and made a break for Fulham Palace to claim our perfect grassy patch in the sun.

Fulham Palace London

Picnic Fulham Palace London

Blankets laid out, we plunked ourselves down, cranked up BBC Radio 6, and uncorked an icy bottle of rosé. As if the planet’s hottest supercouple Brangelina haven’t done enough to better this world, now they give us this beautiful pale pink vintage from their Provencal estate.

A tip for judging rosé wines – the paler pink the color, the better. Pale peach and blush colored wines (like Provence and Pinot Noir varieties) are crisp and dry, while the bright fuscia and coral tinted ones (such as White Zinfandel) contain extra sugar making them sweet.

Picnic Roberts Radio Miraval Rose Wine Fulham Palace

Toasting the Jolie-Pitts, I scurried off for a glimpse inside the Palace’s walled garden. I felt like I was sneaking in, despite it being open to the public, because there wasn’t another soul in sight! I admired the flowering beds of this beautiful oasis before scampering back to headquarters and flopping down in the sun.

Miraval Rose Wine glass Fulham Palace Picnic

Fulham Palace Walled Garden

Fulham Palace Walled Garden Beds

Picnic Fulham Palace Walled Garden Flowers

New Yorker Picnic Blanket

Looking up at the sky, watching the clouds drift by, I took turns browsing my magazine and catnapping.

Picnic Clouds Blue Sky

Picnic Reading The New Yorker

When we got hungry, we cracked open the hamper and tucked into some summery British foodstuffs – chargrilled, lemony asparagus starter…

Picnic Open Hamper Fulham Palace London

Picnic Asparagus

Followed by something a little more American (well, South American)… chimichurri bavette steak with southwestern quinoa salad and fresh sriracha gaucamole.

Picnic Steak Bavette Guac

And something unquestionably American, bold and spicy Buffalo wings!

(I’m not the biggest fan but my redcoat hubby loves them!)

Picnic Whole Foods Wings

Picnic Watermelon Fulham Palace

Picnic Watermelon Break Share Fulham Palace

Picnic Watermelon Sunny Fulham Palace

Picnic Watermelon Fulham Palace Bite

We spent hours out in the sun. When we ran out of things to read and nibble and chat about, we staggered up and slowly strolled back home.

Picnic Dress Fulham Palace