27 June 2014

London Bloggers Afternoon Tea at the Milestone Hotel

There's nothing I love more than the English tradition of afternoon tea.
Afternoon tea in England dates back to the early nineteenth century wherein people would feel peckish in the early afternoon and would partake of tea and small sandwiches, and then maybe a walk about the gardens in order to hold themselves over till dinner. Most frequently it was a social occasion for people to catch up and enjoy each others company. So, something that was clearly going to be right up my alley. I am all about the mid-afternoon meal disguised as a snack.

Selena, over at Oh, The Places We Will Go, organized the blogger afternoon tea get-together a few weeks ago. I had seen over social media (Twitter is the best) about her putting together and hosting other afternoon teas at different places around London and I got in touch with her to join up. We used the hashtag #LDNBloggersTea if you want to search through the social media posts about these events.

 Blogging has turned into a great way to meet new people and I was excited to attend something as lovely as afternoon tea as a way to meet other bloggers. A fantastic idea from Selena and very well executed, I might add.

The tea itself was held at Milestone Hotel in Kensington. Right across from Kensington Palace and Gardens. Posh location indeed. And the hotel suited it's surroundings.

Don't be fooled by that photo, above. I may not be wearing my usual attire...pajamas pretending to be school clothes...I just wanted the other bloggers to think I was an adult too. And I put those heels on a block from the hotel, with Kensington Palace staring me in the face, being all judgey. What? Flats are perfectly acceptable commuting shoes. I wear heels for parties I get to sit down at. I'm, like, classy on a part-time basis.

Once we were all seated, we had introductions all around and Selena gave us all a warm welcome. The servers came around and offered us a selection of two different teas, English Breakfast or Early Grey. I'm sure there would have been more of a selection if there had been less of us. I think they may have narrowed our options down because we were a very large group of 23 camera ready bloggers. Typically you'd get to pick what tea you'd want from a large selection at all other afternoon teas I've partook of (and they've been numerous. I love a good afternoon tea.)

All of our sandwiches, scones and desserts were quite tasty, albeit very traditional. I got a little jealous over the other bloggers talking about their last tea they had where it was all very unique selections and the chef would tweet back and forth with them after. I do love a company that has a handle on social media.

But in all honesty, if you're visiting London from outside the UK and haven't had the pleasure of having afternoon tea, I would highly recommend The Milestone Hotel. If you're looking for traditional and quintessential, they've got it right here, and in such beautiful surroundings it's easy to be quite charmed with the place. 

Their desserts definitely held a lot of delight for me. I can't exactly tell you what they are, but they were extremely tasty. A good tip for other places, when you serve afternoon tea it's always helpful to provide a menu of the items at the table so you know what you're eating. Especially if someone wants to blog about it later!
Dessert on a stick. Yup. That's my favourite. With a caramel popcorn stuck on it. I want this for breakfast every day. Or as a reward when I do something good.

I hereby name this 'creamy thing with graham crackers'. Except England doesn't have graham crackers. But this was squishy and crispy all at the same time.

Overall it was a lovely tea. I really went to meet some other lovely London bloggers and I'm really glad I did.

After the tea, I took myself on a walk around Kensington Gardens. It really is remarkable how many people turn up to the parks when the sun is out. Seeing everyone out makes me very happy to be living here.

Purty London. 

*We received a discounted rate for this tea, £30, No review was required and all opinions were my own. And I took a goodie bag of leftovers afterwards. Cause I'm classy and care about the environment. Don't waste that shit man, give it to me.

26 June 2014

For the Love of Beer: Meantime Brewfest

The very first time I got drunk was my first time living away from home, freshmen year at uni. I went to a football players house with my future best friend, Jomi, and I ended up drinking a six pack of Natty Light (AKA 'Natural Light'). I got so sick later that I vomited all over my dorm room (CLASS, right there folks) and had quite the bonding experience with my floormates as they helped shower me off and wash my things. Honest to God, I went to the best University ever, ace people there. Then I did the incredibly awesome (AKA uncouth) thing wherein I called my mother while hungover and cried. Apparently...this is not what you do when completely drunk or hungover, when underage...or at any age, as my mother keeps telling me when I call her drunk or hungover even now. Whatever, Mom, I just want a little sympathy for my poor decisions!

For the following four years of uni, I could not force myself to drink beer. I hated it with a passion. My gag reflex started to flex it's muscle every time I got any whiff of beer.

But lo and behold, thank the Lord, that dark period has passed. Since I graduated I have discovered my love of beer and developed it into a true passion. It's even become quite the family bonding thing for my siblings and I. Almost every time we're all at home, we bound off to another local brewery in Rochester, NY and have an afternoon of tastings. 

My absolute favourite birthday of all time, even surpassing my 21st birthday, would have to be last summer when I turned 29. My little sister planned it all, with my only stipulation that I wanted to tour the local gin and brewery places around the finger lakes. We took a party bus around, my whole family and my best friends Danielle and Brandon, and had a blast tasting local gins and delicious brews.

Since being in London, I haven't gotten to get out there and try what local beers there are to offer here. Which has been quite a disappointment, honestly. The majority of my friends here are not beer drinkers. Even a lot of the guys prefer cider or wine and I often just stick to wine myself in the face of following the crowd when out at the pub.

Luckily, I have found a fellow beer drinker in my classmate, Tonje! Hallelujah! (Also, shout out to my American-DC expat friend, Molly, who also will grab a beer with me anytime.) Tonje and I recently checked out the Meantime Brewing Company Brewfest right over in local Greenwich. If you have a chance when you're in London, I would HIGHLY recommend coming and trying out their craft brews over at their Brewery. Beers from the UK, Europe and even America were on tap at the Brewfest. And a lot of which you can get around London pubs as well.

I think they'll be doing this again later this summer, and I will definitely be attending. We managed to get out to the Brewfest on the last day. A bit rainy, but a really good turnout. And just as a tip to my single lady friends, you should drink beer in London. Out of all the people that turned up for the Brewfest, 90% of them were men. We were quite outnumbered. There were many attractive guys, right alongside some very delicious brews. A lot of the European beers would even be palatable to even the most beer-adverse person. Quite on the fruity side. Some of Tonje's favourite beers tasted like sparkling fruit juice to me. I didn't even know you could do that with a beer. WHERE WAS THIS BEER IN COLLEGE??!
Free glass upon arrival. As well as 6 beer tasting tickets...though mine came with 7 accidentally. We were pretty pumped about that.

My favourite beer out of all of them was a beer from the UK. It's from Harviestoun Brewery, and it's called Ola Dubh "18". A Scottish beer that tastes of whiskey and is dark like coffee. I am such a big fan of the dark beers. The thicker and darker it is, the happier I am. Give me something I might mistake as espresso, please. Additionally, there was a few amazing coffee porters as well!

Another good one was from our very own Meantime Brewery, the London Porter. I will always look for this one whenever I'm at a London pub from now on. This, and the Chocolate Porter, are my go-to beers. And the Londoner Porter is a bit lighter, almost like a Guinness. So don't be frightened by this dark beer.

Inside of Greenwich's Meantime Brewery

You could use your beer tickets inside the Brewery, which made us pretty happy when the rain started to pick up.

The beers were all on tap outside the Meantime Brewery and there were tables for ping pong (my American brain immediately thought they could be used for beer pong instead, obvi).

All the guys working behind the bars were really great at answering any nerdy questions we had, and also gave great suggestions when I'd come up with the explicit demand, 'dark. Give me dark. Beer dark as my soul.' They did not think this was weird at all. Bless.

In our welcome gift bag we also got a really fantastic guide book on all the beers with little sections to take notes. For the next Brewfest, I'll get ultra nerdy and go for the whole weekend and try all of them. I have still kept this guide for future reference....also because I have a crap memory and have more than once just brought the guide with me to Greenwich Union Pub and just shoved it at the bartenders, pointed and grunted 'I want this one.' Class.

We were double fisting by the end. Thanks to that spare ticket I got in my bag. What a happy surprise.
I definitely plan on attending the next one. Hopefully all the ridiculously cute guys show up for the next ones as well. I mean....I'm going for the beer of course...but the cute guys totally help.

Before all this Brewfest delightfulness, I learned the most amazing, wonderful, joyful, loveliest thing about England. You can go to bars and get a beer, or two, to go! So I marched down to my local after my flatmate informed me, chuffed look on my face, and got some beer to have with dinner one night. I was so excited I took pictures of it. Look! Beer at home! Not bought at a supermarket! SO EXCITED. (And it was CHEAPER too!)

Seriously...it does not take much to make me happy.


25 June 2014

Playing Catch Up

Hey there friends, how's life? It feels like so long since I've last overshared way too much information with you that you didn't ask for and secretly wish you could forget. Did you miss reading random posts of weird food, illegally taken photos, and book obsessing? I have so much more to tell you. But give it time. Patience is a virtue. Apparently. I mean, I think so. I'm not sure, cause I don't have any.

Things that have been happening in my life: my grandmother passed away and I went home for whirlwind trip for not only the funeral, but a wedding of a good DC friend. I've been devising away at school coming up with new material for our very last project of the course (what? I can't believe I'm already here so close to the end!), I've been eating many delicious things that I have either posted on Instagram or just talked about obsessively to friends (they missed me posting about it here cause then I wouldn't have talked their ears off about it), and I've been reading loads of good stuff for my summer reading challenge.

Actually, I've kind of forgotten about the summer reading challenge and just been finding loads of good stuff to read and completely abandoned a lot of my books I planned on reading. I just finished Mindy Kaling's book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and I'm about half way through Caitlin Moran's book How to Be a Woman. Both absolutely delightful reads that are really making me feel good about myself as a result. I love good comedy writing. I need to sharpen my game and these ladies are showing me how.

A lot of why I haven't been posting recently is because I've been taking most my pictures on my fancy new camera and then avoiding figuring out how to put the pictures on to my computer. Technology frightens me and there is much wine drinking and avoidance when I think about it.

Clearly, I am going to have an interesting time in life.

Here's a few stellar test shots around my neighborhood in London:
This picture is so stellar that it took 3 minutes to upload. ENJOY! I don't know if I have the patience to add more. This will now probably be a one picture per post blog.

Kidding. I did wait. Here's a selfie and another shot of the walk way by my house.
A girl and her camera. A love story. Told in selfies.

Look nature! In London! 

I actually think this took just long enough to write for me to get hungry. So now I'm going to go eat. Are you surprised?