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JW Marriott Grosvenor House London: Afternoon Tea Review

JW Marriott Grosvenor House London: Afternoon Tea Review

We are back to London and to celebrate the start of  new school year we went to JW Marriott Grosvenor House London to try their afternoon tea. The weather on that day was not very pleasant and we practically run through the doors, just avoiding […]

Best Rooftop Bar in Bangkok: Spectrum Lounge and Bar

Best Rooftop Bar in Bangkok: Spectrum Lounge and Bar

Parents rejoice! At last, I found a country where kids are allowed to visit rooftop bars! I love, love, love a good roof top bar.  As the night covers the city, you can watch the spectacle of  twinkling lights, roads with moving cars  and gleaming […]

With Locals in Bangkok

With Locals in Bangkok

What is the best way to explore a new city? With locals!

They know the city like the back of their hand and can show you all the hidden places, which you might not necessarily see if you are only in the city for a few days.

“Withlocals” came up with this brilliant idea of putting visitors and locals together on private tours in Bangkok, so you get a proper introduction to the city or explore the parts you are most interested in. 

The great news are that they also cater for families and the private tour is sometimes the best solution, especially if the kids are small. You can organise your time according to your routine and manage unexpected tantrums, if such occur!

Having gone on a food tour earlier in the week, I selected a family food and city tour. When you make a booking on Withlocals website, you can select which guide you would like to go with.

All of the guides have a little video introducing themselves , and  there is also a very helpful review system from other people who already been on a tour with them. Once you made the booking , you can download the app and communicate with your guide via the app. 

We decided to go with Pongpat , as he spent some time in Italy,  so Claudio and Pongpat hit it off straight away. Pongpat was understanding and tried to tailor the tour for us: we were supposed to take the tuk tuk to the local market, but as Luca was asleep, he did not mind walking to the market.

Also at the food market  I did not really want to try another Pad Thai or green curry, and Pongpat tailored the food samples to allow us to try something different. 

The places that we visited on this tour were:

Residential neighbourhood, called Ari,  with street stalls and little shops, selling all kinds of stuff

Or Tor Kor Market, which is filled to the brim with beautiful produce and it is a place to be if you love food.

There are plenty of food options there as well, so you can easily come there and spend a whole day just sampling and shopping. 

Chatuchak Weekend Market – do not tell me I did not warn you!

This is a dangerous place if you like shopping. We were there during the week and some places were open and I could not stop myself from buying couple of things. Pongpat told us that at the weekend the place is absolutely full and is extremely dangerous for shopaholics and their credit cards!

We were also meant to go to Children’s Museum, but as we spent so much time eating at the market, we would have reached it past the closing time, so we have tailored the end of the trip with another activity.

Food wise I was in heaven again. Or Tor Kor market sells the best range in every produce, so prices are understandably higher and you can also get anything you want here.

I can definitely recommend to visit it as I have never seen melons which are packed in an individual box, apples the size of a melon, an array of dried fruits and nuts and durian crisps.

Everything is beautifully presented, and the market itself is very clean, so if you are struggling with normal markets in Bangkok, I suggest to go for this one, you will not be disappointed.

Before getting to the market we stopped at a few stalls near Ari BTS station and tried pork with rice, coconut parcels and fried bananas. We also got some fruit at the local shop.

As I knew that Or Tor Kor Market is famous for their produce I wanted to try durian . Patpong also appreciates this fruit, so he was able to select one of the best. Apparently, there are a lot of varieties of durian and they all differ in taste and price. The piece that we got was 360Baht (£10), which seems quite expensive for a bit of fruit. But once you bite into it, it is magnificent, it is so soft and buttery inside, it is a revelation.

I did not know it, but apparently you should not have alcohol together with durian or after you have eaten it, as these two things do not mix. 

In between eating we talked about locals in Bangkok and what it is like living here. What they do on weekend, whether they eat at home or mostly eat out, what they like doing in their spare time and how they manage demands of work, families and free time. I love chatting with locals,  this was just one of those days. 

Withlocals already have predetermined routes for some of their tours, but you can equally devise a tour where you will visit places ,that you are interested in. Do not hesitate to contact your guide to discuss what can be done and what is the best option if you want to see/experience certain things.

Withlocals have hosted us for the tour, but all opinions are my own.

Dinner with kids in Bangkok: Felicita Rooftop Bar and Grill

Dinner with kids in Bangkok: Felicita Rooftop Bar and Grill

Bangkok has a miriad of places to eat, ranging from Asian cuisine to the most sophisticated Western offerings. During two weeks in Thailand, we mostly went with Thai cuisine, but one evening, when we were exploring vibrant Sukhumvit Road, we stopped at Felicita Rooftop Bar […]

Where to stay in Chiang Rai: The Riverie by Katathani

Where to stay in Chiang Rai: The Riverie by Katathani

Chiang Rai is usually overlooked in favour of its bigger neighbour Chiang Mai, as majority of people base themselves in Chiang Mai and visit surrounding area on day tours. We also stayed in Chiang Mai for one night, but one of the nights we actually […]

A Chef’s Tour: Oldest Market in Bangkok

A Chef’s Tour: Oldest Market in Bangkok

You know that I love food and Bangkok is the place to be if you are like me. The problem is that I do not speak or read Thai, so it becomes slightly more complicated if you want to try  offerings from the street food vendors , unless you know what kind of dish they are cooking. When I find myself in a situation like that I usually book a food tour as this is the best way to try local specialities under the guidance of a local and knowledgeable person. 

I got lucky in Bangkok as I went on “A Chef’s Tour” and we were guided by a chef and a food lover Nutth. He was very softly spoken and knew a wealth of information about the vendors we visited. 

We started off with a little ride on the canal, using public boat, and then jumped on the bus to experience the way locals move around the city.

Our first snack of the day was sticky rice cooked in banana leaf and fried bananas, which were crispy on the outside , but warm and custardy inside. It was such a great combination of textures!

Our main stop and eating ground on this tour was Nang Loeng Market, which is considered the oldest market in Bangkok. It is not very big and it is mostly food vendors, as the market is very popular during the week with workers, who are based nearby. 

Ok, let’s go and have a look what delicacies we managed to try. A word of warning: this is only a small selection of foods that we tried, so please come hungry!

Roast pork and duck from a third generation shop

Nutth shared that his father took him to this restaurant since he was very young, and the place has been going on for more than a hundred years.

They do not serve anything else in this shop apart from roast pork and roast duck, which again speaks volume to me.

I honestly wanted to cry- this is how good it was, the pork was insanely crispy and duck was tender and full of flavour. They serve it with non-spicy chillies, which are crunchy, and it again adds to the texture experience of the dish. 

A snack of egg pancake with various fillings – Kanom Bueang Yuan

The lady only cooks two dishes at her stall, one version with a crispy pancake, the other with the soft one and addition of egg.  The inside is made of shredded coconut, dried shrimps, peanuts and sweet radish. The pancake is served with a spicy dressing made with cucumbers and shallots.

I loved this dish as it offered a combination of soft pancake and savoury sweet filling with a sharp contrast of the dressing and crunchy cucumbers. 50 Baht for this beauty.

During our tour we saw a lot of vendors, who cook only one particular dish, and they have been doing it for years. When I asked Nutth whether they are passing their craft to someone else, he mentioned that it is not likely that the young people would want to repeat their paths. This is a real pity, as I am sure, some of the dishes will disappear in 30-40 years if no-one else learns now how to do them in a traditional way.

There was one lady, who was doing the sweets at the front of her house for many years now.  She gets up at 4am or so, cooks the sweets and then vendors pick it up from here for sale. She is done and dusted by noon. I very much hope that someone will learn her art of making sweets , otherwise these delightful coconut and pandan rabbits will disappear like an endangered animal. 

Rice and Curry stall 

They cook a whole variety of curries every single day, you probably need couple of weeks to try everything on display. We settled on frog curry (yep, you read it right – frog!), aubergine dip, stink bean curry with prawns and tamarind dip with cucumbers. I did not like frog curry,  but all the other dishes were very unusual and the selection was certainly not something that I would have chosen myself.

Thai sweets and fresh fruit 

Sweets were really sweet, and one of them had numerous layers. Nutth told us that usually one piece is ordered  and shared with your friends or family by peeling the layer after layer. 

Fruits were also a highlight, as some of them I have never tried – I loved the snake fruit and longan. 

Apart from trying different foods, Nutth talked us through some of the ingredients and cooking methods.

Once the tour finished, I felt I learned loads and was now more confident at approaching other stalls and trying to guess what they were cooking, as I might have seen something similar already and would have been able to judge if I would like it or not.

The tour lasted good 3 hours and my only regret is that I did not have a bigger space in my stomach. It is not possible to finish all of the dishes, but temptation is high, because they are so tasty.

I also loved booking process as it was very easy and all my questions were answered very quickly and to the point.

“A Chef’s Tour” also offers tours in Malaysia, India, Hong Kong, Singapore  Japan, Colombia and Mexico.  Definitely check them out if you are travelling to any of these destinations, I firmly believe that local knowledge is power and if you are a food lover you will be in heaven with “A Chef’s Tour”!

I was hosted by ” A Chef’s Tour”, but all opinions are my own.

Katiliya Mountain Resort and Spa: a retreat near Chiang Rai

Katiliya Mountain Resort and Spa: a retreat near Chiang Rai

A lot of people, when they go to the North of Thailand stop at Chiang Mai and  visit Chiang Rai area on a day tour. It is quite exhausting to do this trip in one day, as it is a 3 hour drive one way, […]

Canal Tour in Bangkok with Pandan Tour

Canal Tour in Bangkok with Pandan Tour

While diverse and full of things to see, Bangkok is also huge and full of traffic. To avoid the congestion, consider exploring Bangkok using canal system, which never gets blocked and offers a pleasant refuge from the city heat. When I was in Bangkok 10 […]

Mini Gardener Afternoon Tea at St Ermin’s Hotel in London

Mini Gardener Afternoon Tea at St Ermin’s Hotel in London

If you ask me to recommend a must do activity in London, I would say it is an afternoon tea at one of the grand hotels.  I have been to a few afternoon teas, and some of the places are not very suitable for kids. You either can’t relax, because you worry the whole time, that they will break precious china, or you get stern looks from other patrons, indicating that you should have left your kids at home.

I was delighted to discover that St Ermin’s Hotel offers a child friendly version of the afternoon tea and it is called Mini Gardener Afternoon Tea. 

The tea can either be served  in the Tea Lounge, which has got fantastic ambiance and beautiful interior, or on the terrace if fussy British weather allows. Just look at those chairs!

As the sun was shining, we opted for the terrace option. 

Mini Gardener tea is served in a tray lined with grass and it is a pure delight.  Each and every item is made with love and looks so realistic, that you would not think it is actually possible to eat the banana or a plant pot.

The team at Tea Lounge has thought about everything: while mum and dad are enjoying a glass of bubbly, kids can entertain themselves with DIY shortbread, which they can decorate with icing, packaged into paint tubes. Letitia was busy with it for a good 20 minutes!

Tea starts with a selection of sandwiches, done in a traditional way, without crusts, and follows with all matter of sweets that one can imagine.

If your children do not like tea, it is not an issue, as Mini Gardener menu includes either orange or apple juice. The afternoon tea setting provided a great opportunity to show my daughter how tea should be served using nice china and a tea pot.

Adult version of the afternoon tea is equally tasty and delight for the eyes. I have to be honest, I did not want to eat some of the cakes, as they were just too pretty to eat!

I loved little fruits, which were actually  peach and apricot and blueberry mousses with fillings, encased in chocolate. The plant pot was also present in the adult afternoon tea and again I struggled to eat it, as I was just marveling at the craftsmanship and presentation.  The plant pot revealed white chocolate ganache, hazelnut caramel, raspberry compote and vanilla sponge.

Another  important part of the afternoon tea is the scones, and here they were amazing. They are served warm, with plenty of cream and jam. Letitia loves scones, so I only had one (sob!).

I thought that the price of the tea was great for central London at £30.00 for adults and £18.00 for the kids version, and you can add a glass of champagne only for £5.00 to your afternoon tea. What’s not to like? 

If you would like to introduce your kids to the wonderful British tradition of the afternoon tea, all the details can be found at St Ermin’s Hotel website. 

The location of St Ermin’s Hotel is fantastic, as it is only 5 mins walk from the St James Park tube, and after the tea we tool a walk in St James Park and saw the birds on the lake. 

St Ermin’s hotel hosted our afternoon tea, but all opinions are my own. 

Sock Shop: Bamboo Socks Review

Sock Shop: Bamboo Socks Review

Autumn is not far, which means that we will be getting our long-sleeved tops out of the cupboard and start wearing socks again. I love choosing socks, whether it is a colourful range or a novelty design. Last week I had an opportunity to order […]