[Seoul] Café Dior by Pierre Hermé

So as you casually stroll along the streets of Seoul, specifically in Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam, you may come across Dior’s largest boutique in the world – House of Dior. This six floor flagship store opened in June last year and after getting word of it, we decided to plan a visit to check it out. I was even more intrigued when I heard that there is a Café Dior by Pierre Hermé on the top floor and they do the best macarons in the world (it’s true, trust me).

The best part of visiting during the weekdays is that there is absolutely no one in the entire shop that you need to squeeze past or maybe that normally occurs during the weekends which is why we avoid visiting at that time. Of these six floors, the first four floors consists of Dior’s collections – bags, clothes and shoes for men and women, the fifth floor is definitely worth a tour as it is the museum where you do surprisingly learn a lot about the Lady Dior bag. We then made our way to the top floor – the café!

The colour theme was a lovely inviting pale grey with mint and cream hints around. The café itself was not huge but they also had a seating area outside but since it was cold, we chose to sit inside for our little coffee and pastry break!

The mono chronic plates and cups gave a vintage French café feel and along with our order of macarons, this was a perfect break!

The seats were simple but stylish and they gave off a very chic and understated atmosphere. I do recommend a visit if you are interested in fashion or architecture or interior design (I’m into all three) as it is quite a building and to end it on a high note, it’s currently the largest Dior store in the world. Welcome to Seoul!

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[Paris] Café Kitsuné

If strolling through gardens and taking slow walks in the parks is one of your ways of seeing nature, then I highly recommend Jardin du Palais Royal. The garden is peaceful and quiet despite being located just behind The Louvre where majority of the tourists visit.

After having been here many times, I seldom took a peek at the shops surrounding the garden as many close on different days of the week. But as we took a visit on a lovely Autumn’s day, not taking a peek into the shops was not an issue.

One main attraction besides the lovely garden, was a Cafe Kitsuné where many people were hustling inside to get their cup of coffee. As we decided to take a short break and people watch from the sides of the garden, we ordered a hot matcha latte because who doesn’t love green tea with all their antioxidant benefits? The matcha latte was not too sweet which is how I normally like it and you can taste the refreshing matcha.

The cafe is small but has a few stools where you can sit inside but during the warmer months, there is a seating area just outside the shop. I didn’t try the coffee here which I have heard is great but that means there will be another Paris trip for that…

[Seoul] Haneul Park

When is Seoul the most beautiful one might ask… Having been to Seoul many times but never during spring, my favourite time to go is in the autumn. The weather is refreshing, not cold and not hot and the warm autumn breeze is just wonderful so that you can almost do anything.

If you are like me, who has been to all the tourist places in Seoul and is looking for something a bit different then Haneul Park is highly recommended! It is a 15 minute walk from the World Cup Stadium subway station and since the name of the park means ‘sky’ in English, you will have to brace yourselves and climb up 291 stairs to reach the park.

The park itself was breathtaking. Everywhere I looked, gleams of silver grass were blowing in the light breeze and this was at the end of November. The sky was as blue as sky blue could get. The silver grass flowers were still visible at this time but if you go earlier then I think you would be able to see more of them but I had no complaints when I went!

You can find yourself just walking through the grass fields and just enjoying the fresh air around you. Obviously not to mention that this place is very picture worthy so get snapping!

Give yourself at least two hours to walk, enjoy and take pictures in Haneul Park. I would definitely visit this place again, I have already been here twice during my trip to Seoul this autumn. This is one of the few tourist spots that is not crowded, making it a very pleasant trip for you, your friends and your loved ones to enjoy.

 

[London] Afternoon Tea at Ham Yard Hotel

As I have had my fair share of afternoon teas in London, it is a wonderful way to catch up with friends especially if tea, cakes and savoury bites are involved. I have wanted to try the afternoon tea at the new Ham Yard Hotel nestled behind Piccadilly Circus since it opened and being the latest edition to the Firmdale Hotels group, I was even more intrigued to go. Having had the afternoon tea at the Charlotte Street Hotel, the Haymarket Hotel and the Covent Garden Hotel (all part of Firmdale Hotels and the latter being the better one of the three), I was curious as to what Ham Yard would offer as their menu changes weekly and it is priced very reasonably at £19.50 per person.

Their afternoon tea can be served in either the main restaurant area or the orangery. If you prefer a quieter environment, then request to be seated in the orangery area otherwise they will by default seat you in the restaurant where the bar is. I requested to be seated in the orangery area and we had a table outside in the lovely garden.

The savouries were spot on and my favourite was the salmon bites. There were 4 plain and sultana scones hiding underneath the canvas bag which were both warm and crumbly to enjoy with the clotted cream, raspberry and strawberry jams. The sizes of the scones were perfect, not too big or small to devour at once.

The selection of cakes and desserts went down nicely as neither of them were overly sweet. Overall I was very pleased with the afternoon tea at the Ham Yard Hotel, it is closely tied with the Covent Garden Hotel, the only difference being that there is more than one choice of menu for the afternoon tea at the Covent Garden Hotel. However given the location of the hotel, the stylish decor, the lovely scones and the very reasonable price tag, what more can you ask for?

 

 

[London] CREAM

When you find yourself wandering around Shoreditch which is now the hip area to be in if you are in East London, there are many streets and alleys filled with boutique lifestyle shops, independent cafes and not to mention, restaurants. There was one coffee shop that I had walked past many times whilst working in the City but never could find the time to visit.

This was CREAM and it is located along New Inn Yard where the fitness studio Frame is. I was determined to visit as the exterior and interior was very inviting and I had read that their food and coffee is worth a try. As you step inside, the large dropping lights are the first thing one would notice, followed by their neat and simple array of tables and chairs with white walls and a high ceiling. It is very refreshing to simply sit down with a cup of coffee while still having the space to breathe and talk as many independent coffee shops are rather small with limited seats.

We visited on a weekday morning so we had the pleasure of trying out one of their breakfast options. We opted for the french toast with fresh figs and maple syrup which was a great balance as it was neither too heavy or too bland. The fresh figs tasted so sweet and was an excellent accompaniment. The waitress who served us kindly cut the toast in two as we were sharing.

For myself the atmosphere is what would make me come again as it is very relaxed and the staff are friendly. The food and drink are all at reasonable prices so do pop in one day but make sure to go before 4pm because that is when they close during the week.

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[London] Fabrique Bakery

Swedish bakeries have been making their mark across London and the latest addition comes from Fabrique who has just opened their second branch in Covent Garden. They open from 7:30am on weekdays and are famous for their cinnamon buns. I happened to be around the area around 8am so decided to make my first visit as I was very eager to try their buns after having read so many good reviews about them.

As I entered the cafe, I realised I was the only person there at that time which was great! The decor is bright and cosy with a hint of a middle eastern flair with their flooring but very much a Swedish affair all around. Most of the buns and bread were laid out behind the counter and I was greeted by two friendly staff. I opted for a cinnamon bun along with a latte to start my day.

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This was the first time I had sampled a Swedish cinnamon bun and it was soft and not too sweet. The flavour was neither too strong or weak and the slight stickiness of the bun made it a joy to devour. I was amazed by how large one bun is and took my time to finish it with my latte. I do recommend a trip to Fabrique and bring along a friend so you can share the bun between the two of you as one is definitely more than enough to keep you full for the next few hours. A delightful way to start your Monday or any other day of the week.

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[London] The Princess of Shoreditch

Having brushed past this place several times while working in the City, this is actually the first time I’ve stepped in and had a meal in this lovely home feel pub called The Princess of Shoreditch. The exterior is a mix of cream and grey lined with hanging street lights outside the ground floor windows. It is in a quiet but convenient location, just a 10 minute walk from Liverpool Street Station.

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We were a party of four and I had previously made a reservation the day before so as to not avoid disappointment! The ground floor consisted of a bar and a bubble of chatter lingered over the dining area where most of the tables were full. We were seated upstairs on the first floor where it was their dining room. It was a Sunday when we met and my intention was to try their Sunday Roast. The choices were the chicken leg, the pork ribeye, the lamb shoulder and the beef sirloin steak. The three of us opted for the beef sirloin steak and one went for the lamb shoulder. As we waited patiently and excitedly for our food to come, we dived into our drinks. We ordered a bottle of the Camden Pale Ale and three bottles of Aspall Cider Isabel’s Berry. As a group of girls, I can say that we all thoroughly enjoyed our drinks! I especially liked the cider as it had a refreshing but not a very strong berry taste.

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Our food came all at the same time. The staff were all very friendly and attentive when serving us our food. When I laid eyes on my plate, I could not believe how big the Yorkshire pudding was. Everything including the roast potatoes, the carrots, the greens and the Yorkshire pudding was perfect and complimented the sirloin steak. We dug in to our food straight away. The roast potatoes were very crispy on the outside but just slightly undercooked on the inside but that did not stop me from enjoying my sirloin which was perfectly cooked to a medium. The carrots and greens were sweet and juicy and the Yorkshire pudding was a joy to break into.

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Only two of us managed to clear our plates. Since we were quite full at this point, we just ordered one dessert to share amongst the four of us. We opted for the traditional sticky toffee pudding with bourbon sauce and milk ice cream. I can say that this is one of the best sticky toffee puddings I have ever tried in my life. The sponge was soft and moist while the toffee sauce was just divine and pairing a serving with the milk ice cream was pure heaven.

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I have a few other places to try the Sunday Roast but given that this is my first visit, I can honestly say it was a very good experience. The staff are friendly and the food was good and at very reasonable prices. Also because the location is near the City, during the weekends it is quiet so if you want to spend your Sundays away from the crowd then this would be a great place to do it in.