Starting 2018 as I mean to go on…

… with good friends, pizza and cocktails at Pizza Union!

Pizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

If I’ve learnt anything from the past year, it’s that the little moments of everyday joy are what it’s all really about.

And pizza definitely makes me very, very happy.

Pizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + WhiskyPizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + WhiskyPizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

Pizza Union is one of my regular spots when only dough will do.

I love the excellent value for money, the neon-filled decor and the speedy service (hellooooo pizza pager!).

Pizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky Pizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

I love the no-nonsense menu: thin, crunchy, super light crust, flavourful tomato sauce, an extensive (and super affordable!) list of extra toppings (all £1, an absolute bargain) and simple but efficient Italian-inspired cocktails.

Pizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + WhiskyPizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

But more than anything else, I LOOOOOOOOOOVE the Funghi pizza with extra N’Duja on top!

Pizza Union’s new Dalston venue scores just as high as its sibblings on all the above points.

With a few extra ones for the super welcoming team that’s always full of brilliant advice on what toppings to add to your pizza to make it even more delicious.

Pizza Union Dalston ● London restaurant review ● Cake + Whisky

What do you say? Wanna a pizza that?

Pizza Union Dalston, 14 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2JP (but they have a few other locations as well…)

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Starting 2018 as I mean to go on…

Polpo at The Ape and Bird

Life is a combination of magic and pasta” – Federico Fellini

And food at Polpo, the cornerstone of Russel Norman’s restaurant empire, is the perfect combination of both.

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Unfortunately, that’s not a very well kept secret, and if you combine this with the fact that Polpo is a strictly-no-booking sort of place, getting a table can be a bit of a nightmare.

Located right on Cambridge Circus (aka THE spot for any pre-/post-theatre dinner), Polpo at The Ape & Bird is no exception, but the restaurant itself being quite big, it is still the least stupidly busy of the lot.

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With shabby walls and worn-just-the-right-way furniture, the place itself is the perfect hybrid of a gastropub and a hipster den, and consequently an absolute Instagram dream.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

But the food, the food is what everybody comes back for.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

The menu focuses on Italian-influenced sharing plates, with a wide selection of both signature and seasonal dishes.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

From the Cicheti section, we couldn’t resist the Arancini (and neither should you!)

Breaded, golden-fried balls of risotto goodness, those are simply too good not to get!

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

Followed by Polpo’s signature dish: Pork & fennel meatballs in tomato sauce.

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A homely take on the humble meatball, with heaps of fennel seeds and a super silky, slightly spicy tomato sauce.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

Italian comfort food at its very best!

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

If you’re as much of a carb lover as I am, the Pizzetta, cooked on site in a wood-fire oven, will definitely catch your eyes.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

There are a few option to choose from, including this Spinach, parmesan & soft egg one.

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Which obviously, I couldn’t pass off.

Just look at that ‘runny egg yolk’ excited face of mine!

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

If I’m being honest though, this is nowhere near the best pizza in London (which is to be found either here or there).

The dough wasn’t quite ‘dough-y’ enough for Polpo to have any claim on that trophy, but the topping combination was really tasty, if only a bit un-seasoned.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

The carb-party continued on with a plate of Crab & chilli linguine.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

Thin, silky ribbons of pasta, smothered in the most delightfully buttery sauce, and plenty of big chunks of fresh crab meat.

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

The sort of dish you’ll never forgetti.

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And yet more carbs (see the recurring theme here?): Fried gnocchi, rainbow chard pesto & young pecorino

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A beautifully vibrant way to highlight those soft & crunchy little pillows of potato joy!

And for dessert, all the classics.

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Pannacotta with strawberry and basil.

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And, of course, Tiramisu.

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Words can’t quite espresso how good that tiramisu is! So you’ll just have to go and check it out for yourself!

Polpo at The Ape and Bird142 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8HJ

PIN FOR LATER:

Polpo at The Ape and Bird | Cake + Whisky

Polpo at The Ape and Bird

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…

Chelsea Harbour | Cake + Whisky

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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’.

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

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!

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

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

A taste of Italy at Rossopomodoro

When the moon hits the sky like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.

And also a pretty clear clue that you should gather your girlfriends for a lil’ pizza-n-catch-up party of your own.

Luckily, I know just the place…

Rossopomodoro, Camden | Cake + WhiskyRossopomodoro, Camden | Cake + WhiskyRossopomodoro, Camden | Cake + WhiskyRossopomodoro, Camden | Cake + Whisky

Nestled in the heart of Jamestown Road (Camden’s ever-extending foodie destination), right opposite Mildred’s, Rossopomodoro is a little slice of Italian heaven.

Rossopomodoro, Camden | Cake + Whisky

Pizza, pasta, bruschetta, they serve up all the classics and, crust me on that, some of the best pizza this side of Naples!

We started off with the holy trinity of Italian ‘primi’:

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Arancini – stuffed risotto balls, coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried.

Rossopomodoro, Camden | Cake + Whisky

Calamaro fritti – crisp, more-ish fried calamari and courgettes with a lemon dressing.

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And the star of the show, Bruschetta.

Rossopomodoro, Camden | Cake + Whisky

Topped with spicy N’Duja and creamy buffalo ricotta, those were a pretty special treat and disappeared far too quickly.

Luckily, it didn’t take long before pizza replaced the empty plates!

Rossopomodoro, Camden | Cake + Whisky

The Indecisa: A three-in-one pizza with three flavours (Margherita with yellow datterini tomatoes; Smoked mozzarella, tomato sauce and spicy salami; Smoked mozzarella, Neapolitan sausage and Friarielli).

Perfect for those days when you simply can’t decide!

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Cozze e Zucchini (Mozzarella, courgettes, mussels, lemon slices and chilli flakes).

A unique creation seafood lovers will…well, love!

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And a bit of an unexpected one: the Uova e Guanciale.

Boasting smoked mozzarella, potatoes, mascarpone, eggs and crispy pork guanciale, it’s basically the love-child of Carbonara pasta & Pizza.

And incidently one of my favourite combinations ever.

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We toasted to the beginning of rosé wine season, lost track of time and chatted late into the night.

Pizza + wine + your favourite people always make for the best nights out!

Rossopomodoro, Camden | Cake + Whisky

 

Oh, and if you also have that bad habit of instagraming all your meals (Let’s be friends?), you could even win a delicious dinner for 4!

Fancy a pizza’ the action? Find Rossopomodoro here

Rossopomodoro, 10 Jamestown Road, Camden Town, London NW1 7BY  Rossopomodoro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A taste of Italy at Rossopomodoro

Pizza Pilgrims, Exmouth Market

A good pizza is simple. In theory. Good dough, wood oven, excellent toppings. Easy peasy.

And yet so many places get it wrong. But not Pizza Pilgrims.

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The Exmouth Market branch is the third in London (after Soho and Kingly Court).

It’s just as good as the other two, and -miracle- it seems to be a bit less busy!

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Once past the bright green door, you enter a temple for good dough.

Totally my kind of religion!

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And a really cool temple it is, complete with a gallery of pizza boxes (you can even create your own if you’re in a creative mood)!

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Downstairs, it’s all about honey-coloured wood and classic movie posters.

Pizza Pilgrims, Exmouth Market | Cake + Whisky

A really cozy, no-nonsense atmosphere.

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And my favourite London pizzas.

Simple, quality ingredients on the best sourdough crust a pizza lover could dream of.

Pizza Pilgrims, Exmouth Market | Cake + Whisky

I have a fair few favourites, including the signature ‘Nduja, but went for the Salsiccia e Friarielli this time.

Pizza Pilgrims, Exmouth Market | Cake + Whisky

A white pizza topped with fresh fennel sausage, wild broccoli, fior di latte, parmesan, basil and chilli.

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Drizzle with a bit of the good stuff.

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Look at how happy it makes her! Proof if you ever needed one that chilli oil is the key to happiness!

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Then grab a slice and tuck in!

Pizza Pilgrims, Exmouth Market | Cake + Whisky

And after that, you might consider getting another pizza… You know, for variety purposes…

And at that price, who would blame you?

Pizza Pilgrims, 15 Exmouth Market, London EC1R4QD Pizza Pilgrims Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pizza Pilgrims, Exmouth Market

NYC Day 4 – A day by the water [Brooklyn + Financial District + Statue of Liberty]

We spend our last day in New York on the water.
NYC city guide | East River Ferry to Brooklyn | Cake + WhiskyWe found out about the East River Ferry just as we were about to head to the Subway. But, well, as it happens, a cruise to Brooklyn was a lot more appealing than getting down into a smelly, stuffy tube station…NYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskySo up on the boat we went, leaving Manhattan and the UN Headquarters behind.NYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNot only was the boat a much more weather-appropriate mode of transportation, but you truly get a hell of a view for your buck!NYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | East River Ferry cruise| Cake + WhiskyBridge after bridge, the waves slowly led us towards the financial districtNYC City Guide | Brooklyn | Cake + WhiskySoon after, we landed in Brooklyn, where we walked along Brooklyn Bridge Park until we got hungry and raced off to the legendary Grimaldi’s
NYC City Guide | Grimaldi's pizza Brooklyn | Cake + WhiskyThe queues testify of how famous this family-run restaurant is with locals and tourists alike. NYC City Guide | Grimaldi's pizza Brooklyn | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Grimaldi's pizza Brooklyn | Cake + WhiskyBut considering they served us that beauty of a pizza, can you really blame them? NYC City Guide |Brooklyn Carousel | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Brooklyn | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge | Cake + WhiskyFuelled up, we walked up and down the street, in and out of shops (including the more than adorable Dabney Lee stationary store!) while chattering happily.NYC City Guide | Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge | Cake + WhiskyAfter beating around the bush bridge for hours, we finally decided to cross it. NYC City Guide | Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge | Cake + WhiskyIt was on my ultimate New York bucket list (just like every other first time tourist to New York) and I must say it did not disappoint. NYC City Guide | The Financial District and World Trade Center Memorial | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | The Financial District and World Trade Center Memorial | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | The Financial District and World Trade Center Memorial | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | The Financial District and World Trade Center Memorial | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | The Financial District and World Trade Center Memorial | Cake + WhiskyFeeling as small as insects, we wandered around the financial district, marvelling at each of those giants of iron and glass.NYC City Guide | The Financial District and World Trade Center Memorial | Cake + WhiskyThe World Trade Center Memorial was probably the most emotional part of this whole trip. The contrast between the towering skyscrappers and the two massive hollow fountains marquing the locations of the two World Trade Center Towers is truly heartbreaking.
NYC City Guide | Staten Island Ferry & The Statue of Liberty | Cake + WhiskyWe topped the day with another cruise aboard the Staten Island Ferry.NYC City Guide | Staten Island Ferry & The Statue of Liberty | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Staten Island Ferry & The Statue of Liberty | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Staten Island Ferry & The Statue of Liberty | Cake + WhiskyNYC City Guide | Staten Island Ferry & The Statue of Liberty | Cake + WhiskyA first trip to New York wouldn’t really have been complete without a look at the Statue of Liberty, would it? 

NYC Day 4 – A day by the water [Brooklyn + Financial District + Statue of Liberty]

Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with Yelp

It seems pizza is always better when you get it from outside (as opposed from making it at home). Or is it just me? Either way, I was determined to get to the bottom of it (and hopefully learn a few tricks along the way)!

So last week, I joined a group of overexcited Yelpers (because PIZZA!) for a pizza masterclass at Pizza Rossa.
Cake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpI was a bit early, so I walk around Leadenhall Market for a while and took in the views (did I ever tell you about this weird obsession of mine with The City’s buildings?) before heading to Pizza Rossa. “Passion by the slice” the sign said. Good sign (geddit?). I believe people who love what they do always do it better. Time to taste-test my theory (and my pizza-making skills, obviously!). Cake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpEverybody was handed glasses of wine (when in Italy, party like the Italians!) and we got stuck in. After being told about how Pizza Rossa all started out and being promised we were going to make the lightest pizza dough of all times, it was time to get our hands dirty!Cake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpAs for all good things, it started with flourCake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpTrying really hard the urger to start a flour fight there! 
Cake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpAdding in some water

Cake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpSofar, so good. But then we added yeast, and that’s when it all got a bit lot more… sticky!Cake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpResulting in me having to go halfsies with my partner, whose dough was too dry, for the two of us to have more managable balls of dough! From then on, our newly separated siamese pizza dough babies behaved (we were both really proud)!

All it took to finish the prep was a bit of oil and some salt. And a lot of arm workout! Cake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpCake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpCake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpAnd then some more to roll it all out!Cake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpAfter this, there was A LOT of pizza (and the dough was indeed very light, which might have led me to eat even more than I intended to) and quite abit of wine too (the Italians sure know how to party!). And of course, that’s when my phone decided to stop working. Which might be for the best as you won’t be able to tell how many slices I’ve had…

I have no picture to prove how delicious everything was, but take my words on it and next time you’re in the City for lunch (or dinner, or anytime inbetween really!), just go get yourself a few slices (my favourite was the prosciutto & butternut squash one!)!

I, however, went home with my own little pizza dough ball (which wasn’t little at all!). So I had to make more pizza (oh no!). And I can tell you, making pizza with your fingers crossed (hoping for it to be as delicious as the ones I had the day before) is not easy!Cake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpEither I was lucky or I’m some sort of pizza genius because the dough ended up being so fluffy and soft! Or maybe I was just taught really well! Rolling it was a bit challenging but really fun since air bubbles were desperately trying to kind their way out!

The pros at Pizza Rossa advised to follow several steps to bake your pizza. First you roll the dough out and bake it for about 4 minutes at a really high temperature (250 °C).
Cake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpThen you add tomato sauce and bake it for another 4 min.Cake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpAfter which you should get something looking a bit like this!Cake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpAll that’s left to do afterwards is to pile your toppings high and bake for a further 2-5 minutes (we went for red onions, red peppers, chorizo dice, basil and sausage leftovers. And LOADS of mozzarella!).Cake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpCake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpCake + Whisky | Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with YelpAnd tadaaaah! Does that look like a majestic homemade pizza or what?

I definitely have Luca & Corrado from Pizza Rossa to thank for it! Now to see if I can do as well by myself…

Pizza Rossa, 4-12 Whittington Avenue London EC3V 1AB

*Want to join into the Yelp fun? Become a Yelper! We can even be Yelp-buddies and drink wine together at various event! What do you say?*

Pizza Masterclass at Pizza Rossa with Yelp