Friday, 19 December 2014

Pizza East Shoreditch

Pizza East
Managing to fit in all the family around Christmas time can be a real challenge. I generally end up doing a mini tour of the UK. This year however I realised that getting to see everyone was physically impossible, so we did the next best thing and went out for lots of dinners. Well we are a foodie family after all.

The choice for our first meal was an evening at Pizza East, which is right in the heart of Shoreditch near to the train station. Shoreditch is in a part of London I love, it has wonderful restaurants, popups, independent shops, it supports local creative talent and well the Graffiti is superb. If you haven't seen my posts on the local Graffiti check it out here.    

Here are a few to wet the whistle. 
London Graffiti
Pizza East is housed in a huge old tea warehouse that has rustic charm. The place is always a hive of activity and always busy so make sure you book ahead for a visit. 
Pizza East
They also have a casual drinking space perfect for pre-dinner drinks or catching up with friends over a nice cold pint. 
Pizza East
As a family we were seated right in the corner of the restaurant with the perfect viewing platform to watch the comings and goings. I am not sure if I have shared this previously but I love people watching. 

The starters consist of cold, baked and fried Antipasti. I always opt for the same, not because I am unadventurous but it is just so good. 

Lamb meatballs, tomato sauce and cheese (£5). Hell yeah!
Pizza East
Now these beauties are huge for a starter, the lamb is wonderfully moist with rich tomato sauce and gooey cheese. 

Other members on the table opted for the squid fritti and lime aioli (£8). This was demolished with speed so I always take this as a sign that it was good. The lime aioli I was reliably informed, was a great accompaniment as it added some tartness to the dish.   
Pizza East
The menu changes regularly but they stay true to what is in season and are creative with the ingredients. 

Unsurprisingly for mains we all choose pizza's but they also offer Mac 'n' cheese, chicken, salmon, lasagne, ricotta and a variety of salads. 

I really enjoy eating rocket and any pizza that has this as a topping wins my vote. So I opt for bresaola, rocket and parmesan (£12).
Pizza East
Other pizza's at the table Buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil (£8). 
London's best pizza
Radicchio, gorgonzola and walnuts (£9). Gorgonzola is a favourite of mine, as are walnuts so the idea of mixing them together on a pizza seems to be a match made in heaven. I seriously wanted to nick a slice. 
Pizza East
The crusts to the pizza are lovely and lite, these for me normally get left but not here. The only thing missing is garlic or chilli butter to dip them in. 

We finished our lovely meal off with fresh mint tea. The thought of anything else to eat was just not possible. 

If you are looking for a lovely pizzeria where the food is freshly prepared and you enjoy eating in a lively atmosphere, then Pizza East is definitely the place. Be aware that tables are booked for a limited time slot, normally two hours.

Pizza East also have sister restaurants in Kentish Town, Portobello and if your are based in North America they have one in Chicago.

Pizza East, 
56 Shoreditch High Street, 
E1 6JJ

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Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas Stocking Ideas

Christmas Stocking Ideas
At Christmas time I like to get people gifts that I know they will like and use. Yes I know this is the intention probably of everyone reading this post, giving something that they wouldn't buy themselves but will still like and use is a challenge. 

This challenge becomes even harder when someone sets a budget or a theme to the gift buying. Being confined to buying something that is small enough to fit in a stocking or to fit a theme within Secret Santa is really difficult. 

What do you buy Bob in accountants who you have only spoken to once in four years? 

So I thought I would share some Secret Santa ideas and possible stocking filler ideas: 

Smallest Champagne

2. Headphone splitters penguins* (£6.99) - We've all been there your on a train, on a flight bored, you want to be antisocial and listen to your music, watch the next episode of American Horror Story. Now you can keep it intimate this Christmas and buy a penguin headphone splitter and watch it together.  
4. Rockabilly Vinyl Coasters* (£9.99) - Get on your dancing shoes and rock around the Christmas tree with these retro vinyl coasters. 
Vinyl Coasters
5. Joe and Steph' Caramel Macchiato and Whisky popcorn (£12) - A foodie can never have to many foodie gifts. 
Joe and Seph's popcorn
6.Corkers (£5.95) - Instead of buying a boring bottle of wine, bring your corks to life.
7. Dress up fridge magnets*(£7.99) Make your photo's and fridge a lot more festive this year with these Christmas themed magnets. Go one better and decorate a picture and give it to a friend.  
Dress up fridge magnets
8. Rituals Energy Bubbles Bath (£13.50) sit back, relax and unwind in a wonderful bath of bubbles. 
9.American Horror Story (£8.95) - I have been loving the first series and this little man has been a big part of it. Know someone who loves the show this is the perfect gift. 
American Horror Show
10. Portable Charger Mr Boost * (£19.99). As a blogger my phone battery is constantly running out and I never seem to be near a charging point. This cute little carton is the perfect charger to leave in the car or in an overnight bag. 
Portable Charger Mr Boost
What perfect stocking presents do you have to share? The theme of my Secret Santa this year is animals. Any ideas gratefully received. 

*Please note that some items I got for the purposes of reviewing but this did not effect my review and honesty. 

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Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas Getaway Vienna Part two

After a busy day of wandering round the Christmas markets of Vienna, I fell into the most relaxed, deep and peaceful sleep. I woke to be greeted by my circus friends.  
25hours hotel Vienna

Vienna offers a wonderful selection of coffee houses. In fact they are an institution, where the waiters are dressed in tuxedo's and they serve a multitude of coffees. I had already made a hit list of a few that I knew I wanted to visit for breakfast and cake. 

Café Central had been on the foodie list for a while. A ten minute taxi ride from our hotel I knew that this was where I wanted to go for breakfast. 

Now you do have to contend with lots of tourists here but the venue is so spectacular and grand that you just have to visit. 
Cafe Central Vienna
Cafe central
Cafe Central
Once seated you are taken back to a bygone age in which writers, philosophers, poets, painters and leaders have all sat whilst having breakfast and coffee contemplating the world.  
Cafe Central
I enjoyed it so much that I did breakfast one day and had coffee and cake on another evening. 
Cafe Central Vienna
Cafe Central Vienna
I say cake, very loosely as these a little works of art, just look at these beauties. The cakes were so good that I hoovered up the leftovers. Well I didn't want them to go to waste. 
Cake Cafe Central Vienna
Café Central is in the perfect location to visit the Spanish Riding School another must for your trip to Vienna. Classic skills of horsemanship, breeding and training horses from Spain. Think of a carefully orchestral ballet with horses. The magnificent chandeliers create the perfect mood lighting. 
Spanish Ridding school
After our wonderful breakfast we walked the five minute walk to the riding school. We paid to see the 11 am show which was quite expensive €23, 
especially given your standing and the view that you end up with. Imagine the scene you are standing for over an hour and the view that you get is: horse, pole, people, horse. I would suggest that the training session at 10 am costing €14 is much better value or just pay for seats at €130.

The MuseumsQuartier houses most of Vienna's... you guessed it, Museums. There are astonishingly many in a small area and they are all rather opulent. 
Now I'm the first to admit that I am not really a modern art fan. I often look at it and think I could do that but I guess to some extent it is clearly lost on me. The museum of modern art contains a rather large collection of 'interesting' pieces. 
I have been to quite a few Natural History museums all over the world and none have rivalled London. The one in Vienna however is excellent they have an amazing fossil, Mammoth, butterfly and skull collection. 
Natural History Museum Vienna
Albertina Museum: 
If you like art then this is a definite destination, they house a phenomenal collection of prints, water colours and paintings, including ones by the likes of Picasso an Monet.  
Albertina Museum
The food served within the museums is phenomenal 
and of excellent quality they certainly put London to shame. The locals tend to visit the restaurants at some of the museums for fine dining experiences.
Directly opposite the museum is also another wonderful coffee house Café Mozart which has been in existence since 1974.
Mozart Cafe Vienna
One thing by now you might have guessed is that the Viennese know how to eat. On our final night we decided to venture slightly out of town to have dinner at Mini restaurant. The restaurant is Hungarian and the food was absolutely delicious. 
It was the perfect way to end an absolutely wonderful Christmas break. Vienna is an absolutely breathtaking City and I for sure will definitely be back. 

What suggestions do you have for next years adventures? 

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Monday, 8 December 2014

Christmas Getaways - Vienna

This is the fourth and final part in my Christmas getaway adventures. If you haven't read the first three instalments (Copenhagen, Iceland and Tromsø) then have a quick read here, here and here. 

On Thursday we jetted off to Vienna, for our festival getaway for this year. 
Cloud Porn
With a flight time of under two hours from London, Vienna is within the perfect reach of some wonderful Christmas markets, great art and foodie treats.

On landing in Vienna, the airport is easy to navigate and find your way to the train that takes just 20 minutes to arrive in the heart of the City. Coasting along on the train you have rolling green fields one side and industrial plants the other side. It is quite the contrast. 

Our hotel for our stay was 25 hours Hotel based in the Museum Quartier. Now choosing a hotel in Vienna is quite difficult as there are many and the overall quality seems very high. So I decided to opt for a hotel based on location and the fact that it offered something a bit different. The 25 hour hotel certainly delivered on the quirky, being themed around a circus. 
Twenty Five Hour Hotels
The theme of the circus and not taking things to seriously runs throughout the hotel which I loved. The lift to rooms is themed as a cage with scenes of the underwater world. 
25 hours hotels
Each room is individually painted with circus scenes 
25 hours hotel
Twenty Five Hour Hotels
You are also given your very own Nelly the elephant for the duration of your stay to keep you company. 
25 hours hotels
The engaged signs for the rooms are designed in a similarly tongue in cheek way.  
25hours hotel
Prior to visiting Vienna I am not sure I truly understood how much the City had to offer as a destination. I have never crammed so much into such a short amount of time and best of all I can still go back to experience more. One thing I can share is Vienna is breathtakingly beautiful and I have so much to share, that this will be the first of two posts.  

Until I visited I don't think I appreciated the scale that Vienna does Christmas markets. 
Christmas markets
They decorate the settings of their Christmas markets on a huge scale with wonderful festival lighting. 

Oh wow is all I can say, but not all Christmas markets are equal however in Vienna, there are surprisingly many. They have those dedicated to ornaments, home made crafts, toys and food. 
Christmas Markets
Christmas Markets
Walking around you can smell roasting chestnuts, mulled wine and hot potato snacks. 
Christmas Markets
You are tempted around every corner with wonderful food. 
Christmas Markets
Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets in Vienna to visit: (Those marked with a * were my personal favourites) 

1.Wiener Christkindlmart beim Rathaus*: A huge Christmas market set outside the spectacular Neus Rathaus. 
Neues Rathaus

2. Advent market am Karlsplatz*: celebrating the arts and craftsmanship of Vienna. These market offers some fun things for those with children too.  
Advent market am Karlsplaz

5. Weihnachtsmarkt Freyung*: This market offers lots of hand knitted items, art and wonderful homemade crafts. 
Christmas markets vienna
6.Weihnachtsmarkt am Stephansplatz: 
Stephansdom cathedral: is housed in the inner City of Vienna. If you like heights and are supper fit you can climb the 137 metre high gothic spire. What an amazing and picturesque location to have a Christmas market. 

We ventured back to the hotel for some very needed supper at 1500 Foodmakers. As you can probably guess 1500 marks the number of minutes that exist in 25 hours. The menu is Italian inspired and whilst convenient because we were staying at the hotel, the restaurant is on the costly side and service is extremely chaotic. The food however is healthy and wholesome.  
1500 foodmakers restaurant Vienna
Well after a long first day we were well and truly spent (both in money and energy) so we ventured off to bed. 
25 hour hotel
Lots more to follow in my next post where I will share highlights from the museums and definitely how the Viennese love to eat. 

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