February Love List

January seemed to drag and in contrast February absolutely flew by and somehow we are now in the third month of 2019. With the mini heat wave London experienced last week a complete contrast to the heavy snow we had this time last year, we now we seem to be back to the rain and grey skies and I’m counting down the days until it’s tights-free weather again.

I made it to my 33rd country in the second month of 2019, hopefully this means I’m on track for my target of 40 countries before I turn 30 and cannot wait to explore more places this year (as well as returning to one of my favourite places, Oregon, I’m looking at you). As always, a large proportion of my love list from last month revolves around food, and I hope this never changes.

Marrakech

The start of February saw my first ever trip to Marrakech for some winter sunshine with Andrew and my parents. Staying in a traditional riad nestled in the Medina for the first night and then two nights at the insanely beautiful Four Seasons Resort, it was the perfect combination of sightseeing, culture and a bit of R&R. We ate more than our fair share of delicious tagine, and drank cups of coffee and fresh mint tea on one of the cities many rooftop terraces, as well as exploring the Saddien Tombs, El Badi Palace and Le Jardin Majorelle.

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A definite culture shock, Marrakech is unlike anywhere else I have been – chaotic and beautiful at the same time. With various shades of red and orange all around, you can see why it’s gained the nickname of the “Red City” The souks really are a sight for the senses, and I can promise you that you’ll get lost on more than one occasion, but that’s all part of the fun. The maze like alleyways are home to hundreds of stalls competing for your attention as they try to sell everything from lamps to clothing and crockery, while pedestrians share the winding paths with mopeds, donkeys and carts filled with fruit and veg.

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Tube Reading

China Rich Girlfriends, Kevin Kwan – having watched Crazy Rich Asians for the first time on my 13 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur the day after Boxing Day, I was keen to read the second instalment by Kevin Kwan. Such an easy “gossipy” read that follows the drama surrounding the crazy rich, I didn’t want to put it down when I reached Tower Hill tube stop in the morning.

The Wife Between Us, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – a psychological thriller featuring lies, secrets and betrayals, the book is filled with so many twists that all of your first assumptions are proven untrue. It really does keep you guessing until the very last page, and if you’re a fan of Gone Girl or Girl on a Train, I’d recommend this one too.

Becoming, Michelle Obama – I’m halfway through Becoming and am loving Michelle’s writing style and the opportunity to learn more about the life of the first African American woman to serve as FLOTUS. The hardback is slightly too big to lug around in my handbag for my commute, but I’m making my way through slowly in the evenings.

What have you read recently? I’m always looking for my next read, so let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations.

Afternoon Tea

After a successful trip in October, we headed back to Rotunda at the Four Seasons London at Ten Trinity Square for Champagne Afternoon Tea  to celebrate my best friend’s birthday. At £38 for afternoon tea with champagne, its great value compared to some of the other 5* hotels in London. We whiled away two and a half hours nibbling on sandwiches, scones and cakes and sipping on champagne, coffee and tea as we listened to a talented pianist play in the centre of the unique circular bar. As always, I overindulged on sandwiches, wolfing down seconds of the smoked salmon and roast beef finger sandwiches, meaning I only had space for one scone covered in clotted cream and strawberry jam. I don’t think I’ll ever learn.

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Great for allergens, the team were reassuring about my gluten free and sesame free requirements, and the inventive cake layer stole the show – with a mini cheesecake with perfect GF shortcrust pastry, a layered Panna Cotta and a chocolate mousse encased in a delicate chocolate shell. I still think back to an afternoon tea I went to at a luxury hotel a couple of years ago, where the dessert section of the tea consisted of a dry chocolate brownie and a fruit skewer. If you’re looking for a place to celebrate a special occasion, or just want an excuse to dress up fancy for an afternoon, I’d highly recommend Four Seasons London at Ten Trinity Square.

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Board Games evening

Replacing night clubs for nights in now that I’ve hit a quarter of a century, we hosted a board games evening with our closest friends and my siblings. Cooking up a big batch of gluten free baked gnocchi (with tomato, chorizo and mozzarella), garlic bread and salad and after a couple of bottles of wine the board games began. Starting with Code Names (the boys vs girls competition got pretty vicious) before moving on to Werwolf (basically assassin but with added characters and a youtube video to talk you through the steps – great for a tipsy, forgetful crowd.) The perfect evening with all my favourite people. And the fact that I was asleep on the sofa by 11pm was an added bonus.

Market Price Monday at Senor Ceviche

Monday night date night is my new favourite thing. In my opinion, delicious food and cocktails is the perfect way to get rid of the Monday Blues and to treat yourself after a productive day back in the office. And it turns out you can get some pretty amazing restaurant deals on a Monday night in London, resulting in me ticking off one of the places on my London food bucket list for a fraction of the cost of the normal menu.

I love ceviche so much, however I am firmly opposed to paying £9-£10 for a small bowl, no matter how great the taste and quality of the ingredients. At the Charlotte Street branch of Señor Ceviche, Market Price Monday means it costs just £5 for any of the ceviche dishes on the menu as well as £5 for a Pisco Sour (or two) – we opted for passion fruit ones but next time I’d love to try the Spiced Pineapple take on the classic cocktail too.

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We ordered four out of the five ceviches (all of the gluten free ceviches on the menu, unfortunately the signature Señor Ceviche is not gluten free) including a Classic Sea Bass ceviche, a Cobia Fish ceviche with orange ponzu, the vegetarian option of BBQ Jerusalem artichoke ceviche and the Nikkei ceviche with yellowfin tuna, sea bass and a langoustine cracker. And at £48 for ceviche, sides and cocktails for two, it was an absolute bargain. Clearly a popular Monday night hang out, we snagged the last free table when we arrived at 6.55pm, so I’d recommend booking in advance if you don’t want to miss out.

Next on our list is the half price tacos at DF Mexico’s Mex Monday- and at roughly £3.50 for two gluten free tacos, I plan to try one of each on the menu.

A Cena for Valentine’s Day

We left our phones at home and had a date night at our favourite Richmond eatery, A Cena, which also happens to be just a four minute walk from our front door. Specialising in traditional Italian cuisine, with an ever-changing menu focusing on seasonal ingredients. The kind of Italian that focuses on meat and fish, not your standard pizza and pasta place, it’s a super romantic setting with low lighting and candle-lit tables. I had Mozzarella di Buffalo with Hot Lentils and Basil Oil, followed by Pan Fried Tuna with Lentils, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, Broccolini and Mint and both were deliciously moreish.

One of the Trip Advisor reviews I read before our first visit two years ago, said that Meryl Streep had been dining at the next table – if it’s good enough for Meryl then it’s more than good enough for me. Make sure you check it out if you’re ever in Richmond – they also have an insanely good value Sunday lunch menu at £25 for three courses, and it’s steps away from the river for a post-lunch stroll.

What did you get up to in February? And what are you most excited for in March. Natalie x

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