10 awesome souvenirs to buy in Saint Malo

I am not one for tacky souvenirs.

Magnets, snowglobes, shot glasses, pebbles… If it’s going to stay in a corner of my living room collecting dust, it might as well stay in the store.

Which doesn’t mean I don’t want to bring home any goodies when I go away on holidays.

10 awesome souvenirs to buy in Saint Malo, Brittany | Cake + Whisky 10 awesome souvenirs to buy in Saint Malo, Brittany | Cake + Whisky

Things to remind me what a wonderful time I had when the holiday blues next strikes. Things I can share with those I had left behind to give them a taste of that specific trip. Things I will be happy to find in a few months, once my tan has faded.

Following my recent trip to Brittany’s beautiful Emerald Coast, I thought it might be useful to create a little guide of souvenirs to buy in Saint Malo if you want to skip the junk traditional stuff but still bring a little piece of Brittany home with you!

10 awesome souvenirs to buy in Saint Malo, Brittany | Cake + Whisky

1. Salted caramel. Obviously. You’ll find plenty of varieties, from supermarket jars to small, artisan-made batches, and even some flavoured versions. Get one of each. Spread on everything. Scoop some in your coffee, drizzle on yoghurt or ice cream. Worse come to worse, eat by the spoonful. You really can’t go wrong.

2. The butter of the stars. With a silky texture, aromatic complexity, a light dusting of salt, a smart balance of flavors and a creative collection of flavours, Bordier Butter is unlike any other one. And as for all luxury goods, the proof is in the client list, and Bordier butters reign supreme on the menus of the finest restaurants in France and abroad. The easiest way to take the French Palace experience home with you!

Bordier Butter flagship store, La Maison du Beurre, is located 9 Rue Orme

3. Buckwheat everything. Frequently listed as one of the world healthiest food, buckwheat remains quite niche outside of Asia and Brittany, where it’s the main component of the region’s most iconic dish, the Galette (a savoury buckwheat pancake).  Despite its name, buckwheat is gluten-free (it is actually a fruit related to rhubarb and sorrel) and a variety of buckwheat-based food items, including flour, biscuits and tea, are available in supermarkets and speciality shops.

La Maison du Sarrasin, a store specializing in all things buckwheat, is located 10 Rue Orme

4. A fresh Kouign Amann. If you like croissants, you must try Kouign Amann (and if you don’t, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore…). Those little round cake/pastry hybrids are made with bread dough containing layers of butter and sugar folded in and result in a sort of caramelised croissant. They are about a billion calorie each but definitely worth every one of them.

Saint Malo’s best Kouign Amann is to be found at Les Délices du Gouverneur, 6 Rue Porcon de la Barbinais 

5. The most beautiful fish preserves. I love those. Not only are La Belle Iloise‘s preserves super pretty, but they’re also the best I’ve tried. There is a huge variety of flavours for you to choose from, they make excellent presents and even better nibbles for your next dinner party.

La belle Iloise, 4 Rue Porcon de la Barbinais

6. (not pictured) A Breton-stripped top. When in Brittany… Armor Lux & St James are the most trusted brands in France, and both have a store in Saint Malo.

7. An intriguing spice mix from Roellinger. If you’re a bit of a spice nerd (I feel you), Epices Roellinger is your idea of a true Aladdin’s Cave. There’s vanilla and pepper from every corner of the globe, jars of the world’s rarest spices from floor to ceiling and exclusive spice mixes you won’t find anywhere else. Whether you’re an expert cook or really just starting, there is something for everyone. The hardest part is choosing.

La Boite à Epices, 12 Rue Saint-Vincent

8. A bottle of Breton cider. Cider is Brittany’s regional drink of choice and the perfect accompaniment to galettes and crêpes. French cider is different from its British counterpart; it is both less sweet and more sour, making it the perfect pairing for fish and pork dishes.

9. A new bikini. There’s this lovely little French brand I love called Princesse Tam Tam and they do the cutest bikinis. I had to stop myself from buying the whole store. They’re a bit pricey but the quality is amazing (I got my previous bikini from them and it’s lasted me a good 5 years). Definitely worth the investment.

Princesse Tam Tam, 12 Rue Broussais

10. Zero sunburns. Best present you can give yourself. Trust me on that one.

What sort of souvenirs do you bring back home from holiday?

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10 awesome souvenirs to buy in Saint Malo

10 reasons to visit Saint Malo

1. Because Saint Malo is a city with a badass history!

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Saint-Malo traces its origins to a monastic settlement founded early in the sixth century.

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From then on, the city had a tradition of asserting its autonomy in dealings with the French authorities and even with the local Breton authorities.

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Later on, St Malo mariners were the first Frenchmen to Canada, the Indies and round Cape Horn to the Pacific seaboard. Worldwide trade brought extravagant prosperity to the city.

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The thing is that you can read the story in modern day Saint Malo’s townscape and a tour of the ‘cité corsaire’ is the perfect way to discover it all.

Emeraude Guides offers some brilliant tours of the city, both in English and French, as well as a variety of excursions, which you can book through their website. Alternatively you can get an audio guide from St Malo Tourism Office for 12€.

2. Because there’s something magical about being surrounded by the sea.

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Being built on a rock reclaimed from the sea, water pretty much circles the whole of Saint Malo.

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Which make for rather high maintenance (those walls are here for a reason!) but also for breathtaking views of the sea from… well, pretty much anywhere, really!

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From the top of the bulwarks to almost every hotel room in town, the sea is everywhere in Saint Malo!

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Including on the menu of many restaurants!

(PS. Did you catch my previous post, all about Malouin Michelin-starred chef Luc Morbihan’s top tips to cook lobster?)

3. Because Saint Malo is home to one of France’s most beautiful beaches.

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Brittany is the region with the  longest continuous coastlines in France and each stretch is more beautiful than the next.

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Transparent, blue-green water (hence the ‘Emerald Coast’ nickname) and golden sand as far as the eye can see, Saint Malo truly is a little piece of beach-goer paradise!

4. Because the city is an absolute architectural dream.

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Looking at the stone buildings and the pastel blue facades, one can hardly imagine that the historic walled city of Saint-Malo was almost totally destroyed by American shelling and bombing as well as British naval gunfire.

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The city was carefully re-built according to original building designs from 1948 to 1960 and has since re-gained its original beauty.

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5. Because people who like butter are always the best people.

And god knows Malouins do!

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From the Bordier ‘Butter House‘ (yes! a store/museum focusing on all things butter!!), to many a food speciality and about a billion different kinds of butter biscuits, butter is EVERYWHERE in Saint Malo!

And there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with that.

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Oh, and the ‘Butter House‘ also happen to have the prettiest floor…

6. Because you haven’t truly lived until you tried Kouign Amann.

A butter-enriched, caramel crusted croissant and one of the very best pastries France has ever created (and I don’t say that lightly).

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Forget about learning how to say it (‘coo-nee-ha-man’ in case you were wondering), just get your hands on one ASAP.

7. Because buckwheat is totally underrated!

Buckwheat is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds, and one of the healthiest food there is.

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More importantly, it is the key ingredient to galettes, the traditional Brittany savoury pancakes.

It’s gluten and dairy free, and packed full of good-for-you stuff.

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Ask for the ‘complete’ (with ham, cheese and egg) or have it with smoked salmon (my personal favourite) and a nice cup of cider.

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As I they say,  one galette a day keeps the doctor away!

8. Because SALTED CARAMEL!

Just stating the obvious there.

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Onto crêpes, ice cream, baked into cakes and biscuits or even by the spoonful, there’s no wrong way to eat salted caramel, so make sure you make the best of the opportunity!

(Plus you’ll be supporting the local economy, so double brownie points for you!)

9. Because it’s small enough not to get lost but be enough so you won’t get bored.

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From being a total beach bum, to touring Saint Malo’s many restaurants, bars and foodie spots, seing the final resting place of famous French writter Chateaubriand, going on excursion to nearby islands, learning about the city’s rich history and trying out all sorts of sporty activities (surf, segway… you name it!), Saint Malo is the perfect destination no matter what sort of holiday you’re after!

10. Because it’ll only be the beginning of your love story with Brittany!

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Saint Malo is well worth a spot on your Travel To Do List, even if it’s only for a long weekend. Just a few days there felt like a proper break and I can’t recommend it enough!

Thanks to its great links with British ports, and with plenty more to see in the area (including the Mont Saint-Michel, a Unesco World Heritage site), Saint Malo is also an excellent home port if you’re planning to stay in Brittany for a little while longer.

And it’s all so pretty (and delicious), how could I blame you?

Can’t wait to start planning your trip to Saint Malo? Visit Brittany Tourism’s website for all info, including practical information, accomodation and more ideas of what to see and do!

10 reasons to visit Saint Malo

Lobster Masterclass at L’Ecole du Goût, Saint Malo

I rarely buy (or cook) seafood.

Partly because they’re rather pricey little buggers, partly because they are quite a bit of work (and as you all know by now, I’m lazy).

And more importantly, because I’m totally lacking the technique to be sure that my investment (both in terms of time and money) will be worth it.

But this all changed after our first morning in Saint Malo and a (cooking) life-changing lobster masterclass with Luc Morbihan, chef of Michelin-stared restaurant Le Saint Placide.

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

Just arrived and already working!

No time to lose: there was water to be boiled, lobster to be cook…

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

And of course, cake to be baked!

One of my very favourites as it happened: Almond friands (See my gluten-free recipe if you fancy making some!)

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

Studded with beautiful, vibrant raspberries.

While the friands where baking, we moved onto the lobster.

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

Learning tips and tricks to pick the best of crustaceans…

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

In short, a good lobster is a live lobster, with long antennas, strong claws and a head that’s well attached to the body (with no gap inbetween).

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

We prepped the lobster before learning how to cook the tail and claws, as well as make a lobster jus.

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

The tail must be cooked in just-boiling water for no more than 5 minutes, before being cooled down and de-shelled.

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

The sure-fire way to get beautiful, still slightly transluscent lobster tail every time!

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

There were also some gorgeous wild asparagus.

A real treat as the season is so short!

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

Quickly pan-fried with a bit of butter…

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Dressed by Luc’s expert hands.

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

And topped with the lightest, most divine saffron emulsion known to mankind.

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A beautiful dish that highlighting Brittany’s best produce.

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And a stellar example of Luc Morbihan’s cooking style: refined, yet simple, and absolutely divine.

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

So good in fact that I could hardly get myself to stop nibbling at it while we moved on to another recipe.

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

Lobster, bisque and herbs.

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

With lobster tail and claw, dressed with a reduced lobster bisque and a whole garden of micro-herbs (beetroot, nasturtium & brussel sprout flowers).

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Delicious and pretty as a picture!

Last but not least, a more homely take on the mighty lobster (and possibly my favourite of the 3 dishes).

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

Lobster soup with pasta and red pepper.

So good in fact that I would happily have a bowl of this for dinner every night for the rest of my life.

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

All topped off with golden almond friands!

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

And a browse in the all-things-wine-and-liquor Aladdin’s Cave that is The Cave de l’Abbaye, where the cooking lessons take place…

How to cook lobster | Masterclass at L'Ecole du Gout, Saint Malo | Cake + Whisky

If you’re planning a trip to Saint Malo, make sure you book a session at Ecole du Gout de Saint Malo for a brilliant introduction to the best produce Brittany has to offer!

You can either book online here or by calling +33 (0) 299201720. Information about the classes available here.

…or play it lazy and book a table at Luc Morbihan’s Michelin-stared restaurant, Le Saint Placide.

And whatever you do, make sure you pick up a few bottles of Breton cider at Cave de l’Abbaye!

Cave de l’Abbaye Saint Jean7 Rue des Cordiers, 35400 Saint-Malo, France

Lobster Masterclass at L’Ecole du Goût, Saint Malo

Sailing to Saint Malo with Brittany Ferries

When it comes to travelling, some ways are more obvious than others.

For most people, travelling = plane. End of the story. And then we all complain about the crazy prices, the long queues at security, the lack of legroom, the dehydrated skin syndrom and the horrendous airplane food.

But you know what? There is a better way!

If you’re travelling to France or Spain, that is.

Let me introduce Brittany Ferries.

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And zero crazy security queues in sight!

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And before we knew it, we were boarding the Bretagne!

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On board, you’ll find all sorts of entertainment.

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There are 2 restaurants (La Baule, a self-service style restaurant and Les Abers, the Bretagne’s main A la Carte restaurant), bars and cafés aplenty, several stores and playing areas for children…

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Even a cinema!

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And nothing but the sea (and maybe a cheeky glass of wine…) as far as the eye can see!

And the food? I hear you say (glad to see you clearly have your priorities right!)

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I have a theory when it comes to French restaurants. If the bread is good, the rest will be too.

And the bread onboard Brittany Ferries is very, very good indeed.

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But the delicious crusty French bread & sea salt flaked butter was only the beginning…

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For lunch & dinner, you can go down the (packed-full, fresh & vibrant) buffet route, or settle for the (very refined & mouthwatering) set menu.

We went for the latter.

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Starting with Asian prawn broth with rice vermicelli, citrus and coconut.

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Poached egg Piperade style.

Followed by equally excellent mains.

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Cod with wild rice and red pepper coulis.

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Gnocchi with wild mushroom and Parmesan emulsion.

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Plateau de fromage (when -almost- in France…)

And finally, my favourite partd & the highlight of the meal: dessert.

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Which came in the form of this stunning Lemon tart.

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Crisp pastry, creamy, tangy lemon curd, all topped with a cloud-like meringue, it was a true work of art and almost too pretty to eat.

Almost.

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One last look at the ocean and we retired to our cabin for a well-deserved rest.

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The cabins themselves are fairly small, but extremely well designed so it really doesn’t feel cramped despite the limited space.

And the beds are much more confortable than you’d guess from looking at them!

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A good night’s sleep makes a happy Sandra, and the first thing I saw when I woke up only made things better.

I’m telling you: there’s nothing quite as glorious as waking up surrounded by the ocean.

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Except maybe for a hot cup of tea and a humongous breakfast!

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And breakfasts aboard the Bretagne truly have nothing to envy to the world’s best hotels’!

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Take you pick(s) of the buffet or go for a hot breakfast, cooked right in front of you y on of the ferry’s own chefs.

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There are pastries for days…

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And a cake selection Marie-Antoinette herself would be jealous of!

I’ve always said the very best days start with cake for breakfast, and that particular one was no exception…

But that is a story for another time (tomorrow).

In the meantime, I urge you to buy tickets to sail to beautiful Saint Malo with Brittany Ferries as soon as possible. The brilliant team, comfy cabins and glorious food will make it a journey to remember!

More info & tickets on Brittany Ferries’ website

Sailing to Saint Malo with Brittany Ferries

Barrel & Stone at The Chelsea Harbour Hotel

When the sun is shining, there’s nothing quite like a trip to the seaside.

But life’s a beach and escaping for a day of picnics, sandcastles, rock pools and sticky pink candyfloss is sometimes easier said than done…

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The good news is, you can actually get that seaside vibe right in the centre of London…

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Tucked away behind Imperial Wharf station, Chelsea Harbour is a little piece of summertime paradise.

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With its tall, elegant buildings, cobbled streets and boats of all sorts and sizes, it’s not playing catch up with any costal marina worth visiting.

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Even the only restaurant with views on the harbour, The Brasserie at The Chelsea Harbour Hotel, has that nautical feel to it.

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… and the cocktails sure would be perfect to sip on while watching the sun set into the ocean!

The only difference, really, is the food. No fish & chips for miles around.

We are in Chelsea after all, and greasy fingers aren’t quite the trend down there…

Instead, there’s a new kid on the block and it’s bringing the best of Italy to Chelsea Harbour.

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Focusing on a handful of recipes and the very best ingredients, Barrel & Stone allows local businesses to offer freshly prepared and baked pizza of an exceptional standard.

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The blistered stone-baked pizzas fly over to the tables within a couple of minutes.

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Herbal Remedy, with fennel sausage, broccoli rabe, fior di latte mozzarella, garlic & chilli.

A lesser know combination but one well worth trying!

Barrel & Stone at the Chelsea Harbour Hotel | Cake + Whisky

If you’re after that absolute-indulgence, holiday feeling, go for Gone Trufflin’.

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Pilled high with mushrooms, black truffle cream, smoky speck and fior di latte mozzarella, it’s an absolute beauty.

Don’t miss this. Get one for the table to share, it’ll blow your mind!

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All polished off with Crème Caramel (nobody does dessert quite like the French…) and a little espresso while watching the sun setting over the Thames.

And there you have it: the perfect seaside break, without leaving London. Bellissimo!

Barrel & Stone at The Chelsea Harbour Hotel, Chelsea Harbour, Chelsea, London SW10 0XG  Chelsea Riverside Brasserie - The Chelsea Harbour Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Barrel & Stone at The Chelsea Harbour Hotel

Truffles of Southsea

It is rare that I leave anything to chance when it comes to restaurant dining. I’m the kind that does her research, compiles lists and is always ready with (one too many) suggestions no matter where I happen to be.

But thanks to an especially busy week and a lack of collaboration from the internet in general and Portsmouth restaurants in particular, I failed to do so ahead of heading there on Friday morning.

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We ignored the city’s glorious landmarks and, with ravenous stomachs, set to explore the city in search of a place to have lunch at.

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Passed by rows of thecutest pastel houses…

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…and this glorious-looking hair parlour…

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… before stumbling upon Truffles of Southsea.

A fresh nautical vibe and a menu full of seasonal delights… Needless to say it was love at first sight.

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We dinned of platefuls of the most vibrant, poached egg corwned Spring spelt risotto.

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Followed by a super indulgent white chocolate & salted caramel fondant.

With an ever-changing menu highlighting the best local & seasonal produce, simple but delicious food and a fantastic team, Truffles of Southsea is one of Portsmouth’s hidden gem and one you MUST visit when you’re next down South.

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Find them here, put on sunscreen, grab your sunglasses and head for a fantastic day by the seaside.

Go by yourself or with your boyfriend/bestie. Even better yet, bring your whole gang. After all, it would be shellfish not to share!

Truffles of Southsea, 67 Castle Road, Southsea, Portsmouth PO5

Truffles of Southsea

Tasting the world at Riverside Kingston

We’re just about to slip into the weekend.

Friday’s finally here, the finish line is in sight.

The end of a long week, deserves a little celebration, don’t you think?

And when London is sunny, there only place I want to be is by the River.

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Here’s my advice: head to Waterloo station, jump on a train to Kingston and go straight for Riverside Walk.

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Hidden away by the river, Riverside Walk is the most dreamy of food destinations.

Amazing views of the river? Tick

Fantastic food choices? Tick

Even better cocktails? Tick, tick, tick!

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From traditional French cuisine to generous British-style brunch and mouth-watering Thai small plates, the range of restaurants cover a variety of cuisine from around the world to suit every taste and budget.

And if you simply can’t pick, there’s always the option of taking a trip around the world, restaurant-crawl style.

Which is just what we did.

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Starting at CAU for a taste of Argentina’s finest.

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Paprika chicken & yellow pepper anticuchos skewers

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Beef short rib & salsa verde

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All nibbled on while soaking up the last of the day’s sunshine and sipping on ice-cold Grapefruit spritz.

But soon enough, the wanderlust got the best of us.

Comptoir Libanais at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky

Just a few steps and we emerged in an atmosphere worthy of Marrakech’s most colourful souks at Comptoir Libanais.

Comptoir Libanais at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky Comptoir Libanais at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky Comptoir Libanais at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky

With colourful crockery and rows of spices as far as the eye can see…

Comptoir Libanais at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky

Bowls full of vibrant pickles.

Comptoir Libanais at Riverside Kingston | Cake + WhiskyComptoir Libanais at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky

And the most mouth-watering selection of sweet treats!

But my favourite thing at Comptoir Libanais is always the mezze.

Comptoir Libanais at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky

A real feast of small dishes meant to be shared with the ones you love most!

Comptoir Libanais at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky

We all digged in hungry!

Comptoir Libanais at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky

Over-ordering absolutely compulsory!

A meal at Comptoir Libanais will always contribute signicantly to your 5-a-day, so there’s no need to falafel about it!

Comptoir Libanais at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky Comptoir Libanais at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky

After picking up a few pantry treats (… I can see harissa prawns in my near future!), we made our way down the River for our last pit stop of the evening, Cote Brasserie.

Cote Brasserie at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky

Because nobody does dessert quite like the French.

(ok, I might be a bit skewed on this one…)

Cote Brasserie at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky

But then look at this perfect Crème Caramel!

Surely it prooves I have a point…

Cote Brasserie at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky

Thick, creamy and perfectly balanced,I dare you to find anything better to linger over with your favourite people…

Cote Brasserie at Riverside Kingston | Cake + WhiskyCote Brasserie at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky

… and one last glass of wine.

And what a wine indeed! A Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois (Domaine de Barroubio 2012) and one of the most sumptuous sweet wine I’ve had in a long time.

Cote Brasserie at Riverside Kingston | Cake + Whisky

The perfect (food) companions as you make plans for the next time you go around the world, restaurant-crawl style.

After all, there are still a few more restaurants on the sunny Riverside stretch for you to try…

Weekend plans? Sorted.

 

Find Riverside Walk here

Tasting the world at Riverside Kingston