Burritos in Brixton

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Those of you who follow new restaurant openings as eagerly as me will know that Brixton Village has become something of a haven for experimental establishments in the past 2 years. In fact, it’s been bubbling away for years, but the main hype around ‘the village’ in particular, feels more of a recent event and so it was recently I finally crossed another establishment off the list.

Heading down on a freezing Saturday night, we plumped for Mexican at El Panzon. Having been established in the area since 2004, It’s nothing flashy, but it does have excellent graffiti on the walls – in fact I was somewhat miffed that they didn’t offer me a marker pen upon arrival as I was keen to get scribbling. Nevermind, I’ll save that for another bar… Anyway, the important thing is that it is indoors which makes a serious difference when you’re in a covered market in South London in the middle of February.

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The menu serves up most standard mexican fare for around £10. The staff are superbly friendly and fun…we negotiated 6 tequilas out of them for £15 which seemed like a bargain and they even had one with us. The food is fresh, tasty and it arrived quickly. Nothing fancy, but great with a group of good friends. Oh and don’t forget that it’s a BYO so you can be as extravagant (or as pikey) as you want with the booze! Hurrah.

El Panzon
1 Granville Arcade
Brixton Village Market
Coldharbour Lane
London SW9 8PR
Tel : 0207 924 9888

Get quilted

So it’s snowing outside AGAIN and after a long weekend away, I’d really rather be curled up by the fire under my duvet watching mindless television, however with that not being an option right now, I’ve turned my attention to cosy clothing instead. So this got me thinking, how can I emanate comfort and warmth in my daily life without going for full-on hobo knitwear? The answer: buy a quilted jacket.

Now I’m not talking about your standard outdoor puffa popularised by european tourists, I mean the elegantly tailored, floral or patterned versions taking over the highstreet. For 2013, the quilted look has had a sophisticated makeover and is now THE desirable jacket for the fashion-conscious professional. On a most basic level though, if it’s good enough for Cara Delevigne in the current Zara campaign then it’s good enough for me.. SOLD.

Here are the current favourites jostling for space in my wardrobe….

ImageZara floral print quilted jacket, £59.99

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Banh Mi Baby

Where to go for hot Vietnamese takeaway right now?

It’s all about Banh Mih Bay. Recently opening their second outpost in Rathbone Place – Fitzrovia, the established Banh Mih Bay team offer reasonably-priced vietnamese delights in either baguette, curry, soup or salad formats. Perfect for lunch on the go.

As with any good Vietnamese, the key is fresh herbs. Banh Mih provides prepped coriander and basil for you to drop into your meal personally – couldn’t get much fresher than that! I opted for the spicy beef with rice. It had a nice kick, but nothing too eye-watering. For £6, it was an excellent lunchtime treat.

Other popular choices in our group were the shredded caramelised pork (Bahn Mi Bi) in a baguette (see photo) and the prawn Pho noodle soup.

The word is spreading fast – a sophisticated alternative to your Pret/Eat/M&S/Itzu’s of the world. I’m glad to see smaller businesses doing well and these guys more than deserve it. They are all super friendly and speedy. We’ll be going again soon for sure!

Bahn Mi Bay
21 Rathbone Place, W1T 1NF

Skater style

I remember when I was all about the skater style. However, back then it was all about baggy t-shirts, giant wide-legged trousers and Carhartt backpacks. It was the look when we were 16 – I even had a necklace in the form of a dog chain from the local pet shop! HOT. However, my boyfriend had the same, so there we go.

Skater style these days is all about the skater skirt. There is nothing tomboyish about this look – it’s actually super girly. So get ready to get flirty with a flippy skirt and some ladylike accessories. Pair it with a blazer for a pulled-together pro look, team with cropped, embellished knitwear to enhance a small waist or throw on a slouchy oversize sweatshirt if you’re still grunge all at heart.

Double face full skirt, Oasis, £45

This tailored Oasis skirt in burgundy (the colour of the season) – is all about classy pleat detailing in a structured fabric. I’ll be wearing it with a pale grey angora knit and chunky statement necklace for simple elegance.

Stripe skirt, £39, Rare

This Rare skirt is a great party piece for those in their 20s. Ditch the cheap belt and invest in a decent leopard-print ponyskin alternative and wear with a black long-sleeved scoop neck body, tights and mega heels. Top it off with a sparkly headpiece – seriously big news for A/W 2012.

Miu Miu flared faille mini skirt, £360, Net-A-Porter

This may be an expensive skirt, but the luxurious fabric and gorgeous apricot colour make it a must-have for winter. Cute and classy. Keep your other items of clothing simple in neutral tones to showcase this beauty.

Beware of the duck

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A recent trip to Spain with my fellow foodie friends meant that each meal was an opportunity to discover something special and that we did upon stumbling across Clandestino in Malaga old town.

Having navigated the narrow, winding streets into a quieter part of town, we finally discovered Clandestino. The restaurant was a combination of rustic fittings with a modern twist. Torn music posters plastered the walls and the sounds of a live honky tonk piano player filled the air. It was quite buzzing at around 9pm when we arrived and almost everyone was Spanish.

Having been ignored by the staff, we sat ourselves down and started attempting to dissect the all-Spanish menu. With none of us speaking any of the language, this proved somewhat confusing especially considering the creative nature of the menu. Was the ravioli really filled with cocoa, ricotta and orange in a mint sauce? (Turns out it was!)

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One jug of very boozy Sangria later, we had ordered our food. What arrived was just as flamboyant as expected. One of my friends ordered the steak with chimichurri sauce – an incredible doorstep of beef with plenty of sauteed potatoes, the other went for the special beef burger with the mostaza verde (green mustard.) I ordered the Clandeburger which consisted of a duck burger with spicy onion rings and a horseradish and green mustard mayo.

The burger was quite possibly the richest thing I have ever eaten. It tasted like foie gras mixed with gorgonzola and combined with the lethal green mustard (which was an unlikely poster-paint green) it was pretty overwhelming. After getting 3/4 of the way through it, I had to admit defeat. However, it was certainly an incredible combination of flavours. The beef burger and steak proved to be simpler and less fussy which meant my fellow diners easily cleared their plates in preparation for jug number 2 of Sangria.

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All in all, a good experience and highly recommended if you’re looking for something other than your standard tapas restaurant. It’s not overly pricey and has the most unusual combinations of food I have come across for some time. Just beware of the duck – it’s not for the faint-hearted!

Restaurante Clandestino
Calle Niño de Guevara, 3  29008 Malaga, Málaga, Spain

Leather cut-work

Leather.

Usually restricted to bags, jackets and shoes, but with Winter approaching, we’re being challenged to experiment with leather tops, skirts and dresses. Sounds terrifying? Take a look at these cut-work numbers. The cut-out detailing brings a feminine element to leather which is worlds apart from any potential hooker connotations. Cut-work can be fierce, cute or demure. Just figure out what works for you and get on it.

Laser cut leather top, Whistles, £250

So now that you’ve got an idea of where to start, here’s a key pointer; no faux leather. It doesn’t matter how well-cut the piece, it will always look fake so if you can’t afford to go the whole-hog, focus on leather detailing on blouses, trim on skirts or an interesting belt. Oasis are the top of my list for affordable highstreet options. This skirt below is a total find!

Leather cutwork skirt, Oasis, £98

Royal Underground twisted cutout leather jacket, Saks Fifth Avenue, £461.04

Rice burgers at Yaki

So, I have to admit I’m pretty clueless when it comes to Japanese food. It wasn’t until this year that I visited my first sushi restaurant  (see the post Japanese in Geneva.) Previously, it seemed to me more something you would snack on – i.e. you had sushi, but then went for pizza as you hadn’t actually eaten anything. Anyway, after an excellent experience, I decided that this actually was for me…and now regularly indulge as a lunchtime treat.

Last week, I was introduced to Yaki – the new Japanese Bakery on Goodge Street. Primarily serving up Okonomiyaki – marketed as a japanese pancake (I would describe it as a sweeter version of a spanish tortilla with a kick) the bakery is full of unusual japanese treats – the likes of which haven’t been seen before in London.

I opted for the  Teriyaki chicken rice burger (£3.99) unsure of exactly what I would be receiving. It arrived within minutes and consisted of a fresh squishy rice cake encasing tomatoes, salad and my teriyaki chicken. It was all presented in a foam wrap which made it somewhat difficult to carry and even harder to eat, however it was very tasty, if not a little heavy on the mayonnaise.

All in all, I think it’s a great new concept and really challenges the norm in terms of what you can find on offer for lunch in the city. They have meal deals which allow you to try a range of products from the menu as well as salads, unique drinks such as aloe-infused water and sides. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood.

Yaki, 53 Goodge Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1TG

Time for the tee

I’m pretty sure it’s thanks to the 90s revival, but at the moment, I think nothing looks better than an oversized t-shirt. Whether it’s teamed with a bodycon skirt or mega leggings, it’s all about the large tee. But, not just any tee – it has to be styled just right or it will look like you’ve rolled out of bed in your sleepwear or worse still, are just a bit of a goon.

Screen printed unisex power washed tee, American Apparel, £26

So, keep your eyes peeled for slim-fitting, roll sleeved numbers with modern graphic prints and you’ll be in business. Personally, I’d steer clear of the ‘comedy slogan’ tees. Nobody with half a brain should be walking around with a tshirt emblazoned with ‘Are you sick enough?’ on their chest. If you need a slogan, stick with the established brands; Boy London (huge right now), Zoe Karsson or Wildfox are all winners.

Boy London, 1984 Tshirt, ASOS, £35

Alternatively, if you can find a plain white tee which ticks all the boxes, you’ll be good to go. This is easier said than done, however insider tip – head to Topman and raid the mens department. The tshirts are less contrived and more authentic in fit. Glam it up with a statement necklace or downplay with a college bomber. (Whistles has a great one at the moment..)

Navy high roll up sleeve tee, Topman, £10

The choice is yours, but it does look set to be the most hard-working item in your wardrobe this winter. Go forth and get teed up!

Play at the The Player

London’s burger revolution continues at a speed of notts. Not a week goes by when there isn’t a new burger joint hailed as groundbreaking in its presentation of beef in a bun.

So, it is with great joy that I discovered they are now serving sliders at one of my favourite London bars – The Player. The bar itself is a 70s paradise. Ron Burgundy would be proud. If you’ve seen the movie Blow, you’ll have visions of Johnny Depp sporting flares, partying hard here before heading out to the garden for a mega pool party. Anyway, enough of my vivid imagination. (There is no garden or pool here sadly!)

The cocktail menu takes the form of an inflight airline menu and offers everything from retro classics to some really inventively named combos such as the Fabulous Gay Marriage which is a fruity gin infusion. My favourite is the Sosho Cooler which combines white wine with mango vodka – sounds unusual, but works a treat.

The service is good – either chill by the bar or grab a spot on one of the low couches and order your sliders. Again, continuing the airline theme, they arrive styled in cartons on a tray. For £12.50 for 2 mini burgers and chips, it’s not a bad deal..a great snack to go with your cocktail. Also, if you’re female and on the market – keep a look out for the head barman who’s quite easy on the eye and likes to do the rounds chatting up the clientele. The staff at The Player clearly live up to their name.

The Player, 8 Broadwick Street, W1F 8HN

Hello twinkle toes

It’s that time of year when you start thinking about your autumn / winter wardrobe. I’ve spent the past month mulling over ankle boots, coats and whether it’s still appropriate to wear leggings at my age?!

Anyway, I’m all about boots at the moment. Here’s what you need to know.

The Winter 2012 boot is all about interesting detailing. From Chloe’s studded winkle pickers, to Mulberry’s tassled beauties, if your footwear isn’t flashy, you’re just not cutting it. After undertaking some exhaustive research, I have found the most beautiful ones for your viewing pleasure. From the Valentino bank-balance breaking ones below, to the more affordable high-street ones I snapped up last week.

Valentino leather ankle boots, Farfetch.com, £584

However, if you’re looking for a high street fix, head to Zara – their footwear is insane this season with studded boots in every category – biker, cowboy, flat, mid-calf. It’s really something to behold which is why they’re selling out. I managed to find one pair in my size of these beauties below..and this was after scouring 3 different stores!

Cowboy studded ankle boots, Zara, £69.99

The runners up for me were these Guess boots. In fact Guess boots in general are worth checking out at the moment – they are in a league of their own and not outrageously priced either. Sparkley heels anyone? These are proper teenage dream boots..I know my 16-year-old self would have been overjoyed to have owned a pair!

Guess Cardio glitter ankle boots, Selfridges, £155