I was sitting as still as a mouse that had just spotted a cat and wasn’t sure if it had been seen. Trying to become one with my surroundings, I managed to refrain from moving, but couldn’t suppress a big smile spreading on my face. A bouncy bundle of cuteness was approaching us, and one of its members, with the lightness of a feather, had decided to hop onto my shoulder, smelling my hair then my lips with its tiny nose.
Strawberry season is a thing in Korea and to my delight I was able to witness and partake in it. From December to June, there aren’t just strawberry lattes and strawberry cakes and strawberry bingsoos (that Korean shaved ice dessert with sweet toppings) in pretty much every coffee shop, but there’s a festival in April dedicated to the fruit as well. With my friend, we went on a little out-of-Seoul adventure, caught a KTX train, and made our way to Nonsan, a city in South Chungcheong Province, about 150km south of the capital, and home to a variety of strawberry farms. (more…)
Sweat dripping down smiling faces, the old and the young standing side by side, chatting. One woman flips her hair, bobs her head back and closes her eyes – an expression of deep satisfaction spreads over her face. The noise level is high, but the happiness is greater – if only for a short while. People have gathered, as if at a train station, inside a bank, any random bank. The air conditioner is blowing, the cool air tickles the woman’s face, she lets out a sigh.
If you’re looking for a nice day out, surrounded by trees, uncut grassy fields, woven paths AND a classic cream tea, look no further than Pembroke Lodge. The Grade II listed Georgian mansion (that’s property talk for buildings considered nationally important, with extra legal protection) in the beautiful and vast Richmond Park in the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames, is a local favourite for a catch-up in serene surroundings.
Valencian cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine, which translates to vegetable and seafood extravaganzas. It’s hardly surprising then, that a succulent, flavourful anguila (eel) dish would develop here. All i pebre, chunks of eel and potato coated in a luscious, thick garlic and pepper sauce, is a must-try of Valencian food sorcery (yes, it’s magical!).
Every time I visit Spain, I am confirmed in my conviction that Spaniards love to eat. Food is everywhere, visibly displayed, with tempting smells wafting out from restaurants and market stalls. Ingredients in their prime, bursting with colour and firmness, laid out on plates and slices of bread. Oily anchovies on juicy tomatoes, salmon on the creamiest of avocados, octopus sprinkled with pimentón. Quite frankly, who wouldn’t love to try this myriad of mouth-watering foods?
On a cold November night, when we entered the hallway of Hotel Café Royal, it was not only the warmth that greeted us as we came in, but the pleasant, enrapturing scent of Paris perfumer Diptyque candles. I can’t recall whether it was the smell of Feu de Bois (Wood Fire), Noisetier (Hazel Tree), Verveine (Lemon Verbena), or one of their dozens of other aromas, but whatever delicious combination chosen, it certainly set the mood for the afternoon tea that was to come.
Rice in Spain, in particular in Valencia, has a history of at least eleven centuries. Rice-growing in Valencia’s Albufera region dates back to the 10th century, when Arabs introduced rice to the Iberian Peninsula and other surrounding areas such as Morocco and Sicily. In fact, the Spanish name for rice, arroz, derives from the Persian orz, to which the Arabs prefixed the particle al, eventually leading to a language evolution from al-orz to ar-orz, to ar-ruz, and finally to arroz.
It’s December now, and Christmas is near. As if there weren’t enough things reminding us of the fact already (think Regent Street Christmas lights, Costa Coffee Christmas cups, and Christmas songs playing on the radio), The Chesterfield in Mayfair is offering a Winter Wonderland afternoon tea as well. What a great way to get you feeling festive, and if anything, to sprinkle in some fun and delicious creativity in the form of Christmas tree and Yule log shaped sweet treats.
It was summer 2009 in Valencia, Spain. The classroom was cool, the students tanned with glistening skin, the sparkle of youth in our eyes. We were eager to learn, and eager to play. One warm night it was tapas and dancing in the old town, gliding through the cobbled streets, surrounded by churches and buildings with a history. The other night it was fooling around at the beach, grabbing a few beers to while the evening away on the golden sand, chilling and laughing and acknowledging the breaking sound of the waves as they touched and tickled our naked feet.