London Brunch: Granger & Co, Notting Hill

Today I miraculously managed to wake before noon all in the name of schlepping to West London for brunch. My new school friend Riley and I have bonded over our mutual love of the meal and have made a habit of trying a new place every weekend. What better excuse to explore London’s many neighborhoods than in the name of eggs, hotcakes, coffee, and sometimes (if we’re feeling frisky) a mimosa?

This morning we set our sights on Notting Hill, as we were both eager to find a reprieve from our many student nights out in hip, yet grimy East London.

Walking up from the bowels of the Underground, you’re immediately greeted by Notting Hill’s quirky and very chic charm. It isn’t quite Mayfair loud money vibes, but more of a granola, aging hippies with wealth atmosphere. You don’t get streets this pristine in Shoreditch, yet they still try to maintain the neighborhood’s bohemian character.

Notting Hill Street Facades Quirky Notting Hill Storefronts

I’d love to return soon for a drink at the iconic Beach Blanket Babylon or peruse the famous Portobello Market on a less tourist-heavy weekday.

Beach Blanket Babylon Notting Hill

It’s already freezing here, so I snuggled into this over-sized sweater from Asos. Warm enough so I don’t need to wear a coat yet, it’s my attempt at inserting more color into my almost all-black wardrobe. I attempted one of those blogger-favorite “stylishly stepping off the stairs of a townhome in London” shots, but I’m awkward and stuck to the selfies.

Notting Hill Street Style in Oversized Pink Sweater
Sweater (similar) // Jeans – super inexpensive  // Black booties – very comfortable // Bag

After spending way too much time taking photos of the temptingly photogenic shops and houses, I finally made my way to Westbourne Grove and Granger & Co, our chosen brunch haven for the morning. The queue builds up as early as 10AM, so make sure to go early or be prepared to wait!

Granger & Co, Notting Hill

Since I was running late, I luckily didn’t have to wait too long (sorry, Riley!), and we were quickly seated for feasting. Service was quick but not rushed, but also not overly warm. The menu is quite healthy (it’s founded by health-conscious Aussies), and they’re known for their whipped scrambled eggs and decidedly unhealthy ricotta hotcakes. Riley and I settled in and studiously browsed the menu.

Menu at Granger & Co, Notting Hill

We decided to order the iconic dishes (we’re timeless like that) and had eggs and toast for him and ricotta hotcakes for moi. I’m normally not huge on sweets for breakfast, but oh Lord this was worth it.

Brunch at Granger & Co Notting Hill

Have to shoot from above for that perfect #onthetable shot! Riley loved the toast and artfully whipped eggs. They were almost too pretty eat.

Breakfast at Granger & Co Notting Hill

The hotcakes were fluffy and came with banana, a touch of honeycomb and perfectly portioned syrup. I was a bit nervous they’d be too much like dessert, but the sweetness was spot-on, and oh did I savour every bite. If you make the pilgrimage to Granger, you cannot go wrong with the hotcakes. Feeling guilty, I also had a green juice on the side; it was refreshing and not too liquid salad tasting.

Ricotta Hotcakes at Granger & Co, Notting Hill

While Granger is becoming a tourist-favorite London brunch spot, I still recommend making a trip if you’re in town. Go early to avoid the queue, or visit one of their other locations, as you cannot book ahead. I’d still try the original Notting Hill outpost, as you can easily spend the whole day exploring the surrounding area. You know it’s worth the 40 minute tube ride if I’m satisfied enough to take a smug photo outside afterwards. Hours later, I’m still in a content hotcakes coma.

London Brunch at Granger & Co Notting Hill

An Ode to Rosé

Life through rosé colored glasses Looking at life through rosé-colored glasses with my friend Meghan at a local winery.

They say to blog about your passions, so that’s why I’m here today to wax poetically about one of my summer loves – rosé . In fact, the idea of sipping on this sweet summer water soon is currently the only thing staving off the Sunday scaries. Call it borderline obsession, call it basic bitch-ism at its finest, but I am all about this pink elixir – and I’m not even a huge wino! I don’t know what first bewitched me. Let’s be honest, maybe I’m just entranced by its Instagram perfect hue, but this crisp, not too sweet beverage is all I’m ordering, all summer long.

cheers to rosé

Not only am I swept into a summer affair with the beverage, but it also seems that several retailers are besotted as well. I’m happy to display my addiction, nay devotion, proudly, and I wanted to share these picks with fellow rosé romantics. Just click on the links to purchase – preferably while sipping away on a pink French varietal.

The Rosé Edit

 

 

Tote bag // Sunglasses (only $10!) // Pillow
T-shirt // Candle // Make-up brushes
Phone case // Pajamas

I’m also obsessed with this rug. Perfect for next to a well-stocked bar cart:

Stop and Smell the Rose RUg

You can buy here from the Be There in Five Etsy shop (she sells other sassy rugs too – so check her out).

There are only a few weeks of the summer, and more importantly rosé season left, so drink up (responsibly of course) while you still can. Cheers!

Breakfast on the Beach at Kono’s, Pacific Beach

Sorry for my unexplained blogging absence lately. I’ve been off soaking up the sun in San Diego, one of my favorite cities in the US aka LA but without everything that sucks about LA. Hopefully I can make up for the lack of content with a recommendation for one of the best and most iconic spots in said fave city. Did I mention it’s super cheap and right on the water? Join me for grade-A people watching and major food porn at San Diego favorite, Kono’s!

On our first morning in San Diego, after sleeping in and playing Pokemon Go until about 9, my parents and I grabbed some much needed iced coffees and made our way north to Pacific Beach from our hotel downtown. (Pro tip – downtown is a great, centrally located  headquarters for your next SD trip). Through obsessive Yelp review-checking, I had found Kono’s and knew I had to try the local-favored haunt.

Kono's Pacific Beach

Kono’s is situated literally right on the beach where Garnet meets the boardwalk. Even at 10AM the sand was starting to teem with beachgoers and the typical SoCal scene – surfers conquering the waves, yoga moms out for their morning run, and hungover bachelor parties searching for hair of the dog. This bustling beach, while entertaining, also meant a line had already formed, blocking us from our breakfast feast. We had forgotten brunch commandment number one – if you go to brunch on a Sunday, be prepared to wait.

The line at Kono's on Pacific Beach

Pro-tip: Arrive early to find street parking. We lucked out and found a spot a block over, but the beach parking can go fast on weekends. Be prepared to take your time to find a spot, walk from further away, or take an Uber to avoid parking altogether.

Luckily, Kono’s sells coffee near the end of the line, so you can feed your caffeine addiction and take in the San Diego sights while you wait.

Kono's Coffee pacific beach

Pacific Beach, San Diego

The shop across the way had some signs perfect for my inner mermaid. They’ll go nicely in my future beach house.

Beach House Signs in Pacific Beach San Diego

I also used the wait to take a selfie and artsy shots of the California flag. My teenaged obsession with Laguna Beach and The OC was out in full force.

selfie at Konos Cafe Pacific Beach

Blouse
Crochet Shorts (similar)
Sandals

California Flag on Pacific Beach

We finally rounded the corner into the restaurant and were greeted with a surfer or wannabe surfer’s paradise. If you are in a hurry, grab a table inside. There were plenty open during prime brunch rush hour.

Kono's Pacific Beach in San Diego

Kono's Pacific Beach in San Diego

Feeling instantly transported to a 1970s bohemian surfer bungalow, I was lovestruck.

Kono's Pacific Beach in San Diego

Instead of opting for a table in this Beach Boy heaven, we decided to stake out a spot overlooking the sea. Just head across the street and around the aforementioned souvenir store, and you’ll find the world’s best breakfast nook.

Breakfast at Kono's in Pacific Beach

Pro Tip: Have someone from your party wait for a table while you wait in line to order. They are a hotter commodity than beachfront property!

Breakfast at Kono's in Pacific Beach

Grey yet warm, the overcast haze enveloped us as we watched the surfers roll over the waves, like clumsy Jesuses walking on water. Finally, the main event arrived.

Breakfast at Konos in San Diego

Not one for a sweet wake-up call, I opted for the savory scramble and famous Kono’s potatoes – mixed with cheese and peppers. Really, what doesn’t taste better mixed with cheese and peppers? If you prefer more of a dessert vibe for breakfast, get the French toast. My mom devoured hers.

Breakfast at Kono's in San DiegoBlouse
Purse
Sunglasses

Not only were my taste buds fully satisfied, but my wallet also was quite satiated. Most options at Kono’s will cost you less than $8.00, and there is more than enough food for one ravenous adult.

Breakfast at Konos in San Diego

Pro-tip: Save even more money and split an entree with a friend. I had more than half my food left at the end of my meal, and I’m by no means a dainty eater.

Fully content and not yet sunburned, we wandered the beach to walk off our scrambles and French toast. The next time you’re in San Diego, Kono’s is a must. Cheap, delicious and quintessential Southern California cool – you won’t be disappointed.

Pacific Beach San Diego

Linking Up With:

Wanderful Wednesday hosted by Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World. Click on the button below to check out more great travel content!

Weekend Wanderlust – hosted by a Brit & a Southerner! Please check out both link parties for more excellent travel content! Thank you!

Wanderful Wednesday

Weekend Wanderlust Button

The Best Food I Ate at Walt Disney World

As I do on most vacations, I made sure to basically eat my way through Walt Disney World during our recent trip. Luckily I was walking a lot and sweating off my body weight in the suffocating Florida humidity, so my foodie indulgence didn’t do too much damage. Disney World has your typical mediocre and overpriced theme park food, but there a few culinary gems present as well. I thought I’d share the most delicious bites from our trip, so you can add them to your must-eats the next time you’re in the house of Mouse.

Dole Whip 

Location: Adventureland in Magic Kingdom

dole whip

No Disney food article is complete without mention of this heavenly frozen delight known as Dole Whip. It’s essentially pineapple soft serve, but boy does it hit the spot on a hot day. You can also get a Dole Whip float with pineapple juice, but the regular soft serve was sweet and refreshing enough for me. The line can get super long, as there are even t-shirts devoted to this treat, so go early (Dole Whip for breakfast sounds great!) or be prepared to wait. Enjoy your Whip at nearby shaded tables and take in the neighboring magic carpets.

Aladdin's Magic Carpets

Lunch at Cantina de San Angel

Location: Mexico Pavilion at Epcot

san angel inn

Unfortunately I did not snap a photo of my glorious enchiladas at Cantina. I simply was too ravenous to fiddle about with my iPhone. They were also just inhaled really quickly (guilty!).  We arrived around noon after traipsing about Future World in the rain, with no reservation, and were seated right away. The food was excellent, service was quick and friendly (ask for Angel!), and it was the perfect spot to cool off and wait off a little afternoon rain. I’d recommend the enchiladas and tacos – all on the more affordable end. After lunch, I explored the great shopping in Mexico and picked out an intricately painted Day of the Dead skull to adorn my desk. We finished off our “trip” with a quick ride on their “Tres Caballeros” ride. It’s cheesy, but I have a soft spot for the Caballeros and Donald Duck, so it’s a favorite of mine.

Dinner at Le Cellier

Location: Canada pavilion at Epcot

The filet at Le Cellier - yum!

On the other end of the Epcot restaurant spectrum, and literally on the other side of the World Showcase is Le Cellier. Located in the Canada pavilion, Le Cellier is an upscale steakhouse with some of the best steak in WDW. Never ones to be half-hearted when it comes to food, my family started with the classic poutine. AKA french fries with cheese, truffles, and a red wine reductions. SO GOOD. I had their signature steak, the filet mignon, for my main. The perfectly cooked filet sits on a bed of mushroom truffle risotto. This meal was probably our best of the trip, so I’d highly recommend Le Cellier if you want something a little more upscale. Be sure to make a reservation 180 days in advance (when reservations open), and be prepared for an expensive, but delicious meal.

Dinner at Morimoto Asia

Location: Disney Springs
Dinner at Morimoto Asia

Our final dinner in Orlando was a real showstopper at Morimoto Asia. My brother is a huge Iron Chef fan, so we knew we’d have to try Chef Morimoto’s recently opened restaurant, even though it’s more expensive. I started with with Mango Match Punch, a delicious cocktail made with green tea vodka, mango and lychee soda. We tried and shared a few dishes to get a real taste of the restaurant, and my favorites were the rock shrimp tempura, the sushi and the ribs. The ribs were definitely the standout dish, so if you can’t afford a several-course meal here, stop in for cocktails and the ribs. Worth it! On your way out, don’t forget to take a snap of the gorgeous decor!

Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Be Our Guest

Location: Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom

Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom

The food at Be Our Guest was just fine, but I wanted to mention it as the detailing and decor was a really immersive and memorable experience. You feel like you’re dining inside Beauty and the Beast, so if you are able to snag a reservation, I would still make the trip if you lower your expectations re: food. My brother liked his beef sandwich, and I liked the pork, but my mom hated her Nicoise salad.  Maybe eat something beforehand, and go to split a few entrees and dessert and take a ton of photos.

Anandapur Ice Cream Truck

Location: Near Everest in Animal Kingdom

Anandapur Ice Cream Truck

Okay, Anandapur is really just glorified soft serve, but who can resist that oh so colorful and intricately painted truck? Not me! I also had this cone after a very sweaty and hot afternoon exploring the Animal Kingdom. It was the perfect snack to enjoy while watching Jungle Book: Alive with Magic (read more about my thoughts on Animal Kingdom’s new nighttime experiences here). Nothing special, but I can never resist a tasty waffle cone.

What are your favorite Disney foods? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for stopping by and happy eating!

The Best Food I Ate at Walt Disney World

Travel Tuesday: How to Eat Like an Italian

Forget climbing the Colosseum, taking in the wonders of the Vatican Museums, or tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain. Arguably, the best part of visiting Italy is indulging in its food. During my trip over the summer, I did my duty and savored every last bite I could get my hands on. All in the name of blog research, of course. (Check out  Everything I Ate in Rome and Everything I Ate on the Amalfi Coast).

As an American, however, I had to prepare and learn the art of eating like an Italian. Through my dutiful research and prolific intake of carbs, I’ve gathered some tips and etiquette for how to best eat your way through the peninsula. My findings are informed by my experiences in Rome and on the Amalfi Coast, so custom may vary a little in other regions. Now, on to the rules of feasting!

Tripadvisor and Yelp are your friends
Italian cities, particularly Rome, are filled with restaurants; the number of choices is overwhelming. Do your research via Yelp and Tripadvisor before your trip, so you have a list of must-tries in areas you’ll be visiting. The hotel concierge can be hit or miss as they often have partnerships with local restaurants that may or may not actually be good. For a local recommendation, ask your tour guides or check out the Eating Italy blog. They run food tours in Rome, so the Roman food landscape is their expertise.

Ristorante 34 near the Spanish Steps was one of my favorite meals on the trip.

Avoid tourist traps
That being said, if you’re out and about and unprepared with restaurant options for that area, be careful when picking a place on the street. If there is a carnival barker type standing out front and beckoning you inside, that’s a bad sign. These places are tourist traps usually with overpriced menus and mediocre food. We fell sucker to one of these (Da Francesco – avoid!) near our hotel on the Via Veneto because we were jet lagged and just wanted lunch ASAP. The food was meh, prices were high and the waiter was peeved when we didn’t give a Yankee sized large tip. Not a terrible experience, but not pleasant either. At that point, you’re better off stopping by a deli or street vendor (trust me – the suppli – fried balls of goodness -are worth it).

When to eat?
Since I have the habits of a 75 year old and like to have dinner at 5PM, it was difficult to adapt to eating later like the Europeans. 8 or later seemed to be customary to start dinner, and meals were a much more languid, drawn out affair. I love the longer, savoring of meals, so by all means, devour at a leisurely pace. If you can’t wait to eat at 8 or 9, try an apertivo. They’re essentially an Italian happy hour right around the end of the work day and include a smattering of nibbles for the cost of a drink. Apertivo is an excellent option for student or budget travelers, since they can cost as little as 2.5 euros. Read more about the apertivo experience here.

Grabbing a late dinner on the Amalfi Coast. Worth it for that sunset.

How Italians do bread
Oh bread, may favorite carb to enjoy before eating more carbs. Bread may or may not be complimentary, so check the menu before digging in. Butter is unlikely, so instead dunk your bread in tasty olive oil, or better yet, use it to sop up any extra sauce from your entree or pasta. Yum!

Frizzante or naturale?
Thirsty yet from all that bread? When ordering water, be sure to note if you want frizzante (sparkling) or naturale (still). Roman tap water is very clean (straight from  the aqueduct!), so no need to pay extra for bottled.

Eat local and seasonal
If you’re in Naples, order pizza. If you’re in Bologna, try the bolognese. If you’re on the coast, have fresh fish. I sound like captain obvious, but Italians do excellent fresh, seasonal food. Also order based on local specialties, so you’re getting the best of the best and not reliant on Americanized versions of Italian treats. Roman favorites include cacio e pepe, amatriciana, carbonara, and saltimbocca. You won’t be disappointed.

Amatriciana at Grazia e Graziella in Trastevere. Nom nom nom.

Coffee faux pas
Italians love to have coffee at the end of a meal, as it is a diuretic and aids in digestion. Cappuccino or any other milky drinks, however, are strictly for breakfast and should not be ordered after 10AM. Instead, order un caffe which is straight espresso. Down it like a shot to cap off a meal and be on your merry way.

Caffe at Da Vincenzo in Positano. A must try.

You’ve finished eating, now what?
Simply ask your waiter for Il conto per favore and your check will be on its way. A service charge of around 1-3 euros is usually added to the bill and should be noted on the menu. I’d add a few euro for good service and even more for an outstanding meal – one to two euros per person. To me, most meals in Italy were outstanding, so definitely have some extra euros on hand, as you usually need to tip in cash. Try to physically hand the tip to your waiter too, especially if you’re dining outside in a busy area.

The one dish to never order in Italy
Fetuccine Alfredo. It’s an American invention, and if a restaurant in Italy has it on the menu, run far far away.

And finally, take in the glorious surroundings, savor every bite and never turn down a chance at gelato.

Nutella. Gelato. The end.


Check out my favorites for trips to Italy and bring the Italian feeling home below:

 

Check out more of my Italy posts:
 
Get Social!
Instagram (I love a good seflie)
Pinterest!
Twitter!

 

I’m linking up with the awesome girls at Travel Tuesday, hosted by Diana. Check it out if you love finding excellent new travel blogs!