Hand Cafe – East Village London’s Little Secret

hand cafeHand Cafe | East Village | Nearest Tube: Stratford | Map

It is my firm belief that everyone should have a local cafe. Cafes are the perfect place to lose yourself in your thoughts, contemplate life, or just enjoy a damn good coffee. When we moved to East Village in Stratford, the cafe offerings were pretty sparse. And by sparse I mean the closest (decent) cafe was in Homerton. That cafe was 46b Espresso Hut.

I’d been a few times when I was in the area, but it wasn’t close enough to become a ‘local’. So you can imagine my surprise when one of the units near our apartment put up a sign saying a new cafe was coming. But this wasn’t just any cafe. This was Hand cafe – 46b Espresso Hut’s younger sibling.

Hand Cafe – East Village London’s Little Secret

I really have nothing bad to say about Hand, so this post is going to be one of those genuine glowing reviews, that don’t come about too often. They’re dedicated to bringing good coffee and high quality food (using local ingredients) to the people of Stratford…and anyone who fancies paying a visit really.

From toasties to shakshuka, it’s anything but the usual foodie fare. The colourful yellow and purple dish below? That’s bacon, avocado and egg on sourdough. They’ve got the ‘traditional’ dishes down, but they’ve added their own special flare to them. My favourite is the Hand Granola; the fruits change based on what’s available and in season, and the added touch of bee pollen and mint adds a whole new dimension of texture and flavour to this breakfast staple. Trust me, you won’t bore of the food here.

More than just coffee…

I visit at least once a week, and often see the same faces (as well as new ones). Eva and Dom spend a lot of time getting to know everyone, and always greet you with a smile. And it’s not forced. These are genuine people doing something they love, and sharing it with those around them. Their hard work and determination has really helped cement Hand as – in my opinion – the best cafe in East Village. Hand cafe is a gem amongst a growing community. I think I’d even go as far to say it’s the heart.

Check out more: Where to Eat in London

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Is Dominique Ansel London Worth The Hype?

dominique ansel londonDominique Ansel London | Bakery & Cafe | Nearest Tube: Victoria | Map

I headed over to Dominique Ansel London this weekend, much like the rest of London. Well, at least that’s how it felt when we saw the queue and the distinct lack of table space. Still, we waited it out, like the good little foodies that we are. But was it worth it?

Dominique Ansel London: Is It Worth The Hype?

  • Perfect Little Egg Sandwich – £5
    Looking more like a Filet O’ Fish when it arrived, I was skeptical. However this light sandwich was actually pretty delicious (no shade FOF). The flavours pack quite a punch, and are kinda quizzical at the best of times. But I liked it. I think…
  • Croque Monsieur – £10.50
    £10.50 (not incl VAT)! For a croque monsieur! I’m sorry but this is ridiculous, especially when you find out that it tastes no different to those you’ve had at half the price. Coming from a French chef/brand, this is a big let down.
  • Liquid Caramel Peanut Butter Mousse Cake – £5.90
    Not only is it beautifully presented, but it’s heaven for a peanut butter lover. The base fell a little flat (soft and wet), but I half wonder if it’s because we didn’t eat it until the evening. That said, I’d expect a freshly made £6 cake to last a couple of hours.
  • Lime Me Up Tart – £6.20
    This was recommended to us, and I can see why. The sharp flavours contrast perfectly against the myriad of textures. This is a fun one. You need to pour the mixture of sea salt, juniper and brown sugar into the groove and squeeze fresh lime over to make an instant caramel. Silly, unique, genius.

Final thoughts? 

The store is beautiful, the staff knowledgeable, and the menu enticing. However I can’t say I was majorly won over by Dominique Ansel London. I still really enjoy his fun and contemporary outlook on the art of patisserie. And it’s safe to say that you’ll definitely find something different on your visit. Your pockets will be a lot lighter mind you. The prices on the menu don’t include VAT! So if you want to sit in – if you can find a seat – it’s gonna cost you a bit more.

The whole thing just feels a bit anti-climactic. You could blame the cronut (which still sell out quickly here). Dominique’s sudden catapult to fame has left everyone wanting more, more more. And unfortunately I don’t think he can catch up. Still, I’d give him the benefit of the doubt and try again. Maybe.

Check out more: Where to Eat in London

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Let’s Test the Honor 8 Camera! | Review

honor 8 cameraTesting the Honor 8 Camera in real London life situations

Does anyone actually remember a time before smartphones? No, me neither. As much as we all hate to admit it, our phones are a big part of our lives. I for one will admit that I feel lost without mine. That isn’t because I feel the need to constantly be doing something with my fingers. No. It’s because I feel disorientated if I don’t have a camera on me. That may be confusing, so let me explain myself…

The Honor 8 Camera: A Review

When I’m buying a new phone there’s only one thing I care about besides calls/text. The camera. Honestly, truly (anyone who gets that reference is my new BFF). I can’t live without a camera, and luckily nowadays I don’t have to, because every phone has one. However not all camera phones are created equal. So when I heard about the new Honor 8 and all of it’s shiny camera features, I just had to test it out!

Check out my review, and I photos took with the Honor 8 camera below.

The Tech

Following with previous models, the device holds a dual camera with two 12 MP sensors; one RGB sensor to capture colours and one monochrome sensor for detail. Minus an optical filter, the monochrome sensor captures three times more light than normal, improving the dynamic range of the image and reducing noise – even in darkness – delivering unparalleled picture quality.

On top of this, the Honor 8 camera supports an extensive set of functions and filters, from light painting and beauty mode to panorama frames, slow-mo, food mode, HDR, super night and water mark.

The Photos

We could talk tech all day, but does the Honor 8 camera pay off? Well I took the Honor 8 out for the day around East London to test it out. I took colourful photos, food photos, close-ups, even photos of moving water. I really put the camera through it’s paces.

The big screen was really helpful in framing my photos, and tapping on the screen brought up a selection of editing tools to help get the perfect shot. I was a little worried that the screen would show a preview of an image that wouldn’t actually translate to the photos. However the photos came out clear and sharp. The Honor 8 camera captures colour in an amazing way. The colour you see in front of you, is exactly what you see in your photos too. That’s not something a lot of camera phones can do. Probably the most remarkable was the photo I took of moving water. The image was ridiculously sharp; capturing every ripple and bubble. Colour me impressed.

Final thoughts?

The Honor 8 camera is seriously a massive contender for the best camera on a smartphone right now. I was blown over by the sharpness of the photos, and how crisp the colour was. And that’s just the basic camera! I don’t really take selfies, but the beauty feature is definitely a bit of fun. As is the ‘food camera’, which brightens and saturates images slightly – to bring the most out of your food photos. The pro camera is definitely useful for those who already know their way around an SLR. However it might be confusing for those who are new to these kind of tools. The night mode and water mark features are also quite exciting, and I’ll definitely be checking them out.

If you’re after a new phone and a camera is a big part of your decision, you should definitely be considering the Huawei Honor 8.

You can buy the Honor 8 at Three.

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The Huawei Honor 8 was gifted to me by Honor, however all views, photos and words are my own.

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honor 8 camera

Honor 8 Camera

honor 8 camera

London Style, Quite Literally | Style (OOTD)

london styleTop: Marks and Spencer | Culottes: Warehouse* | Sneakers: Converse | Backpack: New Look*

Since my post on The London Look, it would seem that I’ve begun to take London style in the most literal sense possible. This top was one of those amazing finds you happen upon by chance – and it was in the sale too! I absolutely loved the colours, stripes (duh) and the cut. I had to have it! Yet however much I love this top, it’s fair to say that not everyone does. In fact funnily enough, it’s caused quite a bit of controversy. And I’m stuck in the middle of it all.

London Style, Quite Literally

First off, my friends think it’s weird I’m wearing a top with London written on it. They seem to think it’s not cool, because it looks too touristy. Heaven forbid you are mistaken for a tourist in London. We all know how painful that is. Which leads me on to my second problem – the mistaken tourist. This lovely lovely top has caused some confusion between me and the “locals”. It would seem that some people think I’m a tourist in London. Recently whilst out at the pub with friends, I had an East Ender try to talk to me in broken French. Coz French colours and stripes. Of course.

Sure I’m not one for buying tops emblazoned with the city I’m currently travelling in, but problems aside, I don’t see why I shouldn’t wear this in my own city. I mean after all, where will people return me to if I get lost?

Check out my previous London style posts here.

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A London Life… at Kew Gardens

kew gardensKew Gardens | Richmond, Surrey | Nearest Tube: Kew Gardens | Website

Apparently us English are pretty good at keeping a nice garden. Who’d have thought? As gorgeous as my grandmother’s back garden is, there’s no place more iconic in the UK than Kew Gardens. Tourists come from all over the globe to catch  a whiff of the roses, or a glimpse of the immense landscape. Heck, even bloggers come from all over London just to do photoshoots in the Palm House. In all honesty it’s easy to see why people love Kew, and it’s fair to say that I am right there with them. The gardens are beyond beautiful, and the grounds themselves are so vast you can spend a whole day there; with several picnics, of course.

So I decided to put together a little photo diary/travel guide, for those who are as fascinated by Kew as I am.

What’s so special about Kew Gardens?

  • First off, it doesn’t feel like London – It technically is still in London, but it’s south enough – hello, Richmond – that you lose the maddening crowds and chaos of Central.
  • The world’s most famous botanic garden – Kew is known far and wide for it’s gardens. It may seem like a tourist spot, but it doesn’t feel right to live in London – heck even the UK – without visiting at least once.
  • Historic architecture – Kew is full of magnificent buildings, including the iconic pagoda, and original Victorian glasshouses (that’s conservatories to me and you).
  • Iconic plants – Of course English roses are beautiful, but Kew has a vast array of plants, some of which you won’t find elsewhere. That includes the rare Amorphophallus titanium. Yup, the one that smells like dead people.
  • It’s not all plants – There’s also plenty of art on show (such as installations, sculptures and paintings), a gift shop, cafe, and some lovely walks.

You can visit Kew Gardens at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB
See more: A London Life series

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The Fabulous Adventures of 698b | London Supper Club

london supper clubThe Fabulous Adventures of 698b | London Supper Club

A London Supper Club…

You may remember me listing The Fabulous Adventures of 698b as my top London supper club to attend  in 2016. And that was only based on their canapés! Of course I had to remedy this, and luckily for me I was invited only a few days after meeting the lovely people behind the supper club. It’s fair to say that I was ridiculously excited. You all know how much I love food, and this was one food event I could not wait to attend.

The Food

The food. Oh the food. Where do I begin? How about the fabulous amuse bouche? As delicious as they are beautiful, these paired perfectly with the seasonal prosecco bellini. The starter of Asparagus with quail eggs and yoghurt was light and fresh; the caramelised yogurt was the star here. The fish course: Steamed Halibut with barley samphire and sea purslane, was again light, and carried subtle flavours throughout the dish. My favourite course of the night was the Rib of Beef with wild garlic; tender high quality beef was accompanied by wonderfully fresh seasonal produce.

The dessert. I don’t want to say much, as this is something you really need to experience yourself. I will say though that it involves an awesome soundtrack, a variety of delicious desserts, and a completely immersive experience. It’s not to be missed!

The People

We were sat next to two couples, both go whom were absolutely lovely. We laughed and joked, and exchanged stories. Some people might say we were lucky, but I believe that the kind of people who attend supper clubs tend to be more outgoing and social. So you’re basically guaranteed a night of good food and socialising. There was a general atmosphere of good cheer all around. Four of us attended, but it’s fair to say we left with more friends that evening.

Final thoughts on The Fabulous Adventures of 698b

From the warm welcome, to the plating in front of the guests, and the adventurous dessert, The Fabulous Adventures of 698b is one of London’s best supper clubs right now. The accomplished Guillame and Maja – what a power couple – are using high quality ingredients, seasonal produce and innovative ideas. I genuinely felt like I was dining with close friends. Close friends who are extremely talented in the kitchen. At £44 per person, this is one treat I would gladly partake in again. This isn’t just good food. This is The Fabulous Adventures of 698b.

You can book tickets to The Fabulous Adventures of 698b at Grub Club and Tabl.

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clueQuest Live Escape Game London | Giveaway

cluequest-3clueQuest Live Escape Game London – Revenge of the Sheep 169 – 171 Caledonian Road, N1 0SL | Nearest Tube: Kings Cross

Team 12 Minutes. That’s what they called us. Legends who will go down in clueQuest history… Ok I may be exaggerating slightly, but we certainly did leave our mark when we recently took on clueQuest’s new Revenge of the Sheep (RoS) live escape game.

What is clueQuest?

Simply put,clueQuest is a real-life escape game where teams of three to five players have to race against time and escape from a locked room”. Since it’s opening clueQuest has been rated as Tripadvisor’s number one London attraction, been featured in Time Out, and has further expanded rooms. Currently there are 9 rooms, and 3 games available to play: PLAN52, Operation BlackSheep, and the new Revenge of the Sheep (open from March 2016).

How good is Revenge of the Sheep?

It’s pretty damn awesome! My team consisted of myself, Jasiminne, Natasha, Erin, Katie and Amanda. Most of us had experienced live escape room games before, however we were in for a pretty big adventure with RoS. After we arrived we were de-briefed and told about our top secret mission. Professor BlackSheep is back, and he is determined to mutate all of humankind into sheep! We had to enter the room, solve all his puzzles and de-activate his sheep mutator – in only 60 minutes! Did we do it? Well, what do you think Team 12 Minutes stands for? Yes, we made it, and we did it in style too. Unfortunately I can’t share too much with you, as I don’t want to spoil anything. But I can tell you that the room is the most detailed and immersive yet! You’ll need logic, common sense, and a lot of teamwork to beat this game. I would highly recommend visiting, whether it’s with friends, colleagues or family. We had such a great time, and I would head back in an instant. After all, it is down to you now to stop Professor BlackSheep, and his plan to rule the world!

Win clueQuest tickets!

Yes, me and Team 12 Minutes are giving one lucky winner the chance to take on Revenge of the Sheep themselves. All you have to do is enter the giveaway below to be in with your chance!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize: 1 x game for 3-5 players
Rules: Follow the Rafflecopter Instructions. UK entrants only!
Closing Date: May 11th

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This post is in collaboration with clueQuest however all views, photos and words are my own.
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