Wake up call in Krakow

Of course, we didn’t expect the roof to fall in during the night. Nothing could have prepared us for the freak 4am wake up call. The night before, drunk and not used to the Polish cold, we had whacked the heating up to the highest setting and conked out on our beds. The heat and humidity of the room had gotten a little too much for the ceiling plastering, and it gave up the ghost in a dramatic middle of the night exit by crashing down with an almighty bang.

To say we shit ourselves is to completely undersell the synchronised fear of god that flashed through Emma and mine’s mind. It is the middle of the night, we have been discussing the finer points of the Taken plot all day and we were only half joking when we lavishly barricaded our hotel room’s front door, and we are one hundred and ten per cent about to be fucking kidnapped. Well, we weren’t, but we couldn’t tell for sure just yet because in the blackout darkness Emma had frozen, rooted to her mattress like she had literally turned to stone, so couldn’t outstretch her arm to turn on the only light.

‘What the fuck was that Farrah’. A low, deep urgency.

‘I don’t know Emma, turn the fucking lamp on’. She reanimated, hand shooting out of her duvet to scramble at the switch. Nothing, just the room staring back at our alarm. The radiator that lines the wall is pumping out heat with such determination that the air is thick and soupy. Looking at the pile of smashed up plaster on the floor, in our sweaty, panicked daze, I don’t think either of us were convinced that it wasn’t going to come to life and murder us. Eyeing it with suspicion, we settled back into our beds, and fell back asleep with the light on.

Silly, dazed and breathless laughter the next morning, we swept up the plaster and got ready to start our next Krakow adventure…



108 Garage – Restaurant Review

The struggles you face in London are truly real. Sure, there’s the ones everyone knows about (rent rises, Southern Rail, the chaos of the first snowflake landing, the ‘liberal London elite’, etc etc). But those pale in comparison, surely, to the guttural need to be constantly ~ I N – T H E – K N O W~.

I’ve tweeted about FOMO to an audience of eye rollers before, and it did seem a contender for Word of the Year before alternative facts got in the post-truth way (A shame of many facets, to be sure). Whilst in the midst of my tweetstorm (three likes and a scathing reply, shout out to my fans), Giles Coren posted this:

And let me tell you, friends, that when Giles Coren tells you to get to a restaurant, you immediately stop what you’re doing and book a table. Or at least I do, so I did.

108 Garage Wine

Round rolls the fateful Saturday, and after battling through the carnage that is Portobello Road Market, we emerged into the promised culinary haven to settle in for a few hours. Perched at the bar (another great Giles tip), we had a vantage point straight into the tiny kitchen and across the red-brick hues of the restaurant. Copper and industrial steelwork lined the walls. The beautiful staff joke with us and each other. Chef Chris Denney asks if we had allergies and hands us appetizers. I make eye contact with Jonathan- who is typically a fair but harsh judge of my restaurant choices- and he is buzzing.

Chris Denney at 108 Garage London

We order, as you should too, the five course menu. For food this good it is startling value at £35 a head. Between the two of us it meant we got the try every dish on the set menu, so go with someone you’re willing to share the good stuff with.

The chicken parfait was so smooth you wouldn’t be certain you had actually popped it into your mouth if it wasn’t for the blow-away flavour. Cured mackerel is light, happy. The beetroot is sharp, happy. We sit wide eyed, happy.

108 starter five course menu

108 Garage John Dory Dish

Our mains are John Dory and wagyu, respectively. The fish (pictured above, out of focus in excitement) is exquisite alongside an almost Portuguese-style sauce, the samphire and pumpkin seeds genius texture additions. It was a smart dish and a lovely dish. The wagyu comes donning a mustard seed relish, and melts just by looking at it. This dish was a particular flirt- Chris Denney was preparing other guest’s wagyu tantilisingly in front of us, meaning that even as we ate we were driven to distraction by the next batch of beef…

108 Garage - wagyu main

A palate cleanser, served over the bar by one of the chefs, of pink-lady apple sorbet.

Pink Apple Sorbet palate cleanser

I cannot reliably report on the date and IPA cake as I did not get a look in. I can however report that the cheese was fantastic. Black bomber is a little cheesy punch in the tastebuds. It came crumbled onto fresh (and also crumbly) cracker breads and generous pickle. Every morsel was appreciated and licked up.

108 Garage date and ale pudding

Not willing to let go of our experience just yet, we ordered cocktails to prolong the joy. I had a rosemary and tequila concotion, Jonathan had the house signature (£10 each). As we sipped and stared out into the restaurant, Jonathan decided that we would come back. Which, forgive me Giles Coren, is probably the best compliment you can give a restaurant.

108 Garage cocktails


Marrakesh: NOMAD restaurant review

I’m not entirely sure, but I think the way we got the best seat in the house might have been because I pestered the reservations team on the day of Eid. Panicking,as I’m wont to do when it comes to reservations, I’d sent a flurry of emails trying to get a table for the 6th of July- Eid ul Fitr 2016- before a quick consultation with the NOMAD Facebook page informed me they were going to be closed that day to celebrate with their families.

Ah. I emailed (a fourth time, now) to apologise for harassing them, and Eid Mubarak while I’m at it.

When we were led to our table on the 7th, semi-private with a tiny terrace overlooking ‘Spice Square’, glowing lanterns overhead- I couldn’t help but wonder if this was chance, or if they took pity on my gushing, rushing emails and let me have the loveliest spot as a quiet nod to my desperation to have a perfect evening.

Morocco nomad restaurant

Or maybe it’s just that every table feels especially laid out for you here. That’s quite possible.

The sun, melting into the sky throughout the evening, threw a golden light across our table and tempted the mojitos from the menu and into my hand.

Morocco Nomad Marrakesh Menu

We ordered the tagine, lamb burger, roasted fennel and greens.

Morocco marrakesh nomad menu foodMorocco Marrakesh nomad menu food sides

It was all excellent. The tagine is a modern- read, ‘deconstructed’- take. I was a touch worried about ordering this- this kind of modernisation of any tried and tested tradition can feel a little dehydrated- a Masterchef wannabe trying to reinvent old favourites with foams and microveg and sous vides- but am pleased to report that this was nothing of the sort.

A refreshing twist on the hearty tagines of Marrakesh, the chicken is succulent and slowly cooked. The sauce is a little sweet, offset nicely by the tiny bowl of a spicy, velvety dipping sauce. I devoured it.

Morocco marrakesh nomad tagine menu

Nomad’s burger received lipsmacking rounds of approval from Jonathan- who also doubles as your local friendly burger aficionado, so you know you can trust him on it. We’d seen many attempts at ‘western’ junk food- dreary pizzas and so on- but this, possibly Marrakesh’s best burger, uses the best of Moroccan and American flavours blended.

Morocco marrakesh nomad burger

Sweets were verbena leaf and spiced chocolate sorbets, and saffron and ginger ice creams. These stood head and shoulders above ice cream we’d tried elsewhere- the flavours fresh and interesting- at once complementary to the warmth of our main’s flavours and also a pleasant final note of sweet soothing cold to round of an evening of hot food.

Morocco marrakesh nomad desserts

Food finished, we sank back into our seats and watched the sun ease itself away from the peak of the sky to behind the pink-orange buildings, gently lowering across the corrugated roofs and satellite dishes that pepper the horizon.

Morocco nomad marrakesh cocktail menu mojito

As the light turns from crisp blue to melting pale purple into darkness, candles and lanterns illuminate the restaurant. This restaurant is so pretty- it took every ounce of restraint not to try to Instagram it from every angle (disclaimer: this is nonsense, I absolutely did try. I had to stop when the food arrived so I could, y’know, eat.)

Morocco marrakesh nomad rooftop view night

In short, this was an absolute belter of a meal. Romantic, not fussy, delicious and beautiful, which makes it a ten out of ten for me.

NOMAD, Place des Epices, Marrakesh.



Finding love in Florence

Visiting Italy was never high on my must-travel list. I wanted the fiestas of Spain, the French Michelin stars and the watercolour sunsets of Greek islands much more than Italian sprawl and plain pastas.

That was, of course, until I actually went to Italy. Converted to the disorder, the charm, the food (oh, the food) and the beauty, I’ve been back every year since my long weekend in Verona. Ticking off cities with a cappuccino in one hand and a camera slung round my neck, Venice, Lake Garda, Amalfi and Positano have all dazzled me.

Then, to Florence.

florence view

Initially, I couldn’t warm to Florence. Our AirBnb was a moment away from the Duomo- a seemingly great decision when making the booking that later left bells ringing almost literally in our heads every morning from 7am as the Camanile- belltower- became intimately acquainted with our sleepyfaces. The town was heaving with heavily perspiring tour groups, marching en masse down side streets and main squares, forming human blockades of obnoxiousness everywhere they went. The transport staff were mean, hardened no doubt, by an onslaught of idiot tourists like us. Ripped off by a shoddy tourist trap gelatoria, dismayed by endless queues, unable to escape the bustle of frantic selfie sticks. Perhaps the Italian charm was wearing off.

But then, to the rescue, Jonathan. Armed with his TripAdvisor app and a serious nose for finding the quiet spots, our weekend of plodding round packed galleries with screaming schooltrips turned into something quite beautiful.

florence girl

We dug out the recommendations from friends and hunted down trattorias and pizzerias galore. We made a booking for the best chicken I have ever eaten. We escaped the crowds to the ‘other side of Florence’- Oltrano. We wiled away hours in gardens reading, chatting, eating.

One of the best things we did- ever- was find a little private tours company out in Tuscany- the 500 Touring Club. Once we navigated the bus system out to rural Firenze, we met our date for the day: Topsy.

topsy fiat 500 florence

After a quick driving lesson (Jonathan, not me) and a slick of lippy (me, not Jonathan), we were pootling around the Tuscan hills to our little heart’s content.

We found Florence at a slower pace, by peering round corners and succumbing to revisiting places- a travel sin according to Past Farrah. I went the long way round to falling love with Florence, but I chilled out when I realised that enjoying a city means finding the rhythm that feeds the city, that gives it life-not charging round at full speed with a checklist to dispassionately work through and spending more time being angry with crowds than giggling with your boyfriend.

florence atmostphere

Instead, spending afternoons lounging in our flat, carefully choosing our picnic supplies in supermarkets and revisiting our favourite spots time and time again made this trip special. You soak in beauty, not rush past it.

farrah kelly