Glow with health & feather your culinary nest in the heart of Marylebone…

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I’m not going to lie…stepping into Daylesford Organic is a little intimidating. Pure, spotlessly clean, white walled & wicker basketed, the blonde wood & glossy lacquered tables will undoubtedly have at least one group of Lululemoned yummy mummies sat around them while chipper, glowing with health waiters glide between tables bearing carafes of cucumber water and bowls of green leafage. Yep, it’s definitely the kind of place that could make you hover fretfully across the street as you wonder if they’ll actually even let you in…

…if they weren’t so genuinely welcoming & friendly from the moment you tiptoe over the threshold. Arriving early afternoon, we were offered beaming smiles & seats immediately – they were even helpful enough to hold a table for us while we hungrily perused the deli area where gorgeously golden & squat homemade sausage rolls were piled alongside platters of seed sprinkled wholegrains, enormous bowls of virtuous salad and crates of beautifully fresh, crayola coloured fruit and vegetables.

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Although lunch dishes such as lemon splashed Dorset crab on toast and the always comforting corned beef hash with homemade brown sauce cooed at me from the menu, it seemed unthinkable to be in a place so organically flawless & healthy and not indulge in their offer of 3 heaping portions of salad for £11.50. The Daylesford Chicken Caesar with crispy streaky bacon, plump golden-yolked eggs, crispy seven-seed toasts & Parmesan curls was excellent & the perfect combination of indulgent and wholesome while heritage tomatoes with nuggets of Greek style cheese and a zingy lemon & mint dressing were sweet & juicy and a giant Israeli cous cous tabbouleh with pale green broad beans and feta was deliciously satisfying.

Accompanied by a tumbler of fresh almond milk – surprisingly moreish – this was one of the most squeaky clean dining experiences I can ever remember having but, unlike many ‘clean eating’ establishments, this one didn’t leave me feeling out of pocket & hungry, just with a inexplicable urge to take up yoga…I gave in to the restaurant, I’ve yet to give in to the Lycra. One step at a time people, one step at a time.

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Once your appetite is fully sated, what better way to pass a little time than wandering the neighbouring shops & charming storefronts of Marylebone High Street? If you’ve ever lost hours of your life to the make-your-heart-beat-faster-because-they’re-that-beautiful kitchens of Pinterest, you’re probably aware of the location I’m about to divulge to you but if not, then listen up and listen carefully because I’ve some dangerous insider knowledge to share…

…there is a shop, a place, a land where those kitchens of your dreams can start to be brought to life…

…and they call it Divertimenti.

Stood quietly & unassumingly at the top of Marylebone High Street, this is a store where glowing copper pans nestle side by side with creamy painted Agas, chunky wooden boards stack up next to piles of gleaming silverware and quirky gifts to tickle the chef in your life sit alongside enough fabulous glassware to stock the ultimate Don Draper drinks cabinet.

The perfect place to start planning your fantasy kitchen – you will frankly want to bulldoze your entire current one and start again – this is also a knockout location for finding delightful gifts that are small on price but big on charm so don’t be put off by the aspirational window displays because if you need something for the gourmand in your life, this is the kind of place that you can’t afford to neglect visiting.*

*The author of this review can in no way be held responsible for the unexpected lightness of your wallet post expedition…

A very British taste of a very M&S summer…

The most iconic porcine rivaled only by Farmer Hoggett’s Babe, Toy Story’s Hamm or Jim Henson’s leading lady…

A caterpillar birthday cake requested by as many big children as small…

That chocolate pudding…

There can be no denying that M&S has created some of the most iconic foods available on high streets across the globe and everyone has their favourite, be it the sweetest of Jaffa laden spheres, the juiciest of posh puppies or the most virtuous of tropical kale juices.

Willy Wonka sang that there ‘is no world I know that compares to pure imagination’ and where M&S cooks, tastes & creates, others follow which is why the Summer Foods Press Show was one of the hottest, most salivatory tickets in town recently. With over 300 new lines due to hit stores from April 2015, this is the biggest launch outside of Christmas and promises to deliver on every count from flavour to value and quality to style.

A Taste of Britain can be found in every dish from the fantastically creative – Battenberg Biscuits – to the heart-warmingly traditional – Black Pudding Scotch Eggs – to the must-haves for your sunshine soaked summer parties – that’d be the delightful & ready to drink Mint & Cucumber Gin & Tonic. So step this way and let’s get started on the only shopping list you’ll need for the coming months…

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Biting off a slice of something delicious at Loaf…

There’s only one thing I’m as much of a geek about as food and that my friends, is film.

Movies. Cinema. Silver screen. The talkies.

Okay, admittedly we’ve come on a bit since they were last called that but you get my drift. As such unashamed film geeks, J and I run a bet each year to see who can predict the most winners at the Golden Globes, the Baftas and the Oscars which means that we do some serious awards season movie viewing during the run up to these shows. Yes it may be all E! Red Carpet and ‘ooh, who are you wearing?’ and sure, there’s a certain amount of wondering how many celebrities Ricky or Stephen or Tina & Amy can delightfully and ironically insult but let’s be honest, there’s a paid-for-by-the-loser dinner at stake here so you better be damn sure I take it as amicably and nonchalantly as Monica Geller plays Pictionary.

Double bills are a luxurious way for movie nerds to pack in the films but they generally leave you with a pretty short window of time in which to recharge your batteries and ensure that your lunch that day doesn’t consist of day old cinema chain hot dogs and nachos. Next time you happen to be ticking off your Best Picture nominees in central London, swing by Loaf and exile forever images of dry, playdoughy wieners and stale, dusty tortilla chips.

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Cuter than the proverbial button with milk bottle lights, vintage wood benches, glossy subway-esque tiles and a welcome considerably warmer than the temperatures outside – those outside London should know that a blue sky in December is always deceptive – Loaf modestly boasts a small but perfectly formed menu and a welcome spot off the beaten track in which to enjoy quirky tin plates of beautifully homemade fare.

Avoiding every formulaic convention of the chains that close in on you wherever in the world you are nowadays, Loaf takes its inspiration from across the pond, specifically from some of New York’s favourite grilled cheese, comfort food trucks and shops. Fusing the stateside love for dishes like mac’n’cheese and pulled pork with the uncomplicated charm of a British cafe, Loaf offers simple sandwiches on fresh bloomer bread that run the gamut from greasy spoon sausage to upper end truffle egg & mushroom, packed protein boxes and platefuls of full English alongside 7 grilled cheese options and globally influenced salads and wraps.

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Given that it was about as warm & inviting outside as a dinner between Kim Kardashian and the majority readership of Vogue, hot dishes were the only appealing option to us for refueling between dates with Michael Keaton & Angelina Jolie on this wintry day which is how we ended up with these two gorgeous plates.

BBQ pulled pork & beans with brown rice – FYI mashed potatoes and macaroni cheese are also offered as bases for this – and red cabbage slaw was warming and delicious with a thick and sweetly smoky sauce smothering juicy shreds of pork and crisp, amethyst vegetable.

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Jerk chicken with generous chunks of sweet potato in a reggae reggae sauce was the second choice, again served with ample helpings of nutty rice and crunchy cabbage. Herbs & spices blended beautifully in the glossy sauce which was hot enough to blow through any vestiges of a winter cold without scorching your tongue and killing any hopes you had for enjoying any other flavour that day. Both plates were great value at £4.95 for the small sizes as seen above and shared as these were, they made for a well-sized and filling lunch.

The adorably-picky-about-coffee J was won over with an above average latte while the hot chocolate was rich, smooth and a surprisingly enjoyable accompaniment to the hearty platefuls of hot food. Service was genuine and friendly from the warm welcome and sincere goodbye to the quick delivery of food, and seats in the window offered the perfect vantage point from which to watch passing tourists juggle with bags of sale bargains bigger than them and steaming cups of takeaway tea & java.

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You’ll find this delightful, trans-Atlantically styled joint on Tottenham Court Road, smack bang between Warren and Goodge St stations, and you’ll discover that it’s the perfect place to enjoy a Manhattan-style-meets-British-foibles bite to eat. Central London can be a hotbed of cheap, tasteless clones when it comes to lunch on both a monetary & time budget but Loaf proves it doesn’t have to be this way; it’s the ideal spot to enjoy something that tastes good and allows you to support an independant business rather than an international behemoth of coffee beans and conventionality.

http://loaf.uk.com/about