Vapiano Restaurant

LONDON – I received a £5 voucher from Vapiano in the mail this week and decided to cash it in.

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Each time I go to Vapiano (three times and counting) the place is busy! A good sign no doubt. This is an inexpensive restaurant where you can eat a pizza (starting at £6.75) or pasta (starting at £6.75) and get a drink in Central London for under £10 and still feel like you went to a pretty decent restaurant for a nice meal out.

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The restaurant runs on a different concept to most. When you arrive, each person gets a card that is swiped each time you order something from the counter. Only on your exit do you pay. It makes it nice for large groups where everyone wants to settle the bill separately. The downside is that since you order your food at the counter, you have to stand around and wait for it and you and your friends won’t necessarily start eating at the same time. Apart from that, it’s a decent meal out and I’d definitely recommend the Toscana pizza.

Bottom line: Nice Italian food at a decent price.

Vapiano

19-21 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 8QB

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Grow your own

LONDON - I’ve mentioned before that I eat a lot of ready meals. I’ve decided to try and eat more home made meals and in my quest to be more healthy, I’ve purchased some herbs. I reckon if you want to start cooking with fresh herbs, you should start with basil (always a winner), rosemary (great for chicken) and coriander (great for pico de gallo).

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So as I’m sure you know, roasts are popular on Sundays in England and I do love a roast lamb on any day of the week. But what about roast vegetables?

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I threw some carrots, tomatoes, red onions and sweet potatoes into a casserole dish, covered it in olive oil, salt and torn rosemary. Baked it in the oven at 180 C for an hour and the end result was, well, tasty and healthy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGot any ideas for healthy meals?

Three days in Barcelona 2.0

BARCELONA, SPAIN – I thought I’d revisit my trip to Barcelona. It’s almost inevitable that when you go abroad that you compare the new destination to what you know back home. Lots of things raced through my mind as I experienced Barcelona for the first time.

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London is such an old city and as a result, it often doesn’t fit our modern world. Barcelona is old too, but it’s a well planned city in many ways. We walked a lot while in Barcelona and one thing that I remember, are the pavements. It seemed that in most places, they were quite wide, clean, sturdy and therefore suitable for large crowds. My travel buddy also noticed that the tiles were sometimes quite artistic and pretty in places.

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When we weren’t walking, we got around using the underground. Many major cities around the world now have underground trains for public transport. New York’s is super grimey – just like in the movies. London’s is much cleaner and easier to follow, but feels claustrophobic as it uses the same Victorian tunnels that were built 150 years ago. Barcelona’s underground system was not as extensive (you had to walk a fair amount to get to stations) and funnily enough, it wasn’t saturated in advertising like you get in London. Whilst we weren’t using the train during peak travel times, we did notice that we always had a seat. In London, I’m always standing and holding on to dirty hand rails.

The other thing that I noticed about Barcelona was that it wasn’t very multi racial and that there weren’t many fat people. Go to America and you’ll find a Walmart fatty on every corner. The UK is catching up as we eat a lot of fast food and exercise less (I’ve put on a few pounds myself…). But Barcelona was different. It was very Spanish and people were looking healthy (my friend and I both agreed that the men here are mostly good looking). I do think that Barcelona is attracting a lot more foreigners than ever before, in spite of its miserable economy. But unlike London which is immigrant heavy, Barcelona still needs to play catch up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne thing that quickly got me excited about Barcelona was the fruit. In London I purchase fruit mostly from Tesco and then after eating it I cry myself to sleep at night because it’s that disappointing. But in Barcelona, I was in love with apples – I hardly ever buy them. But I bought golden delicious apples each day and happily ate them. Their kiwi fruit and pineapples were so fresh and tasty too.

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Without a doubt, the best thing about Barcelona was the warm weather and clear blue skies. It got everyone outdoors basking in the sun.

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I highly recommend going to Barcelona in March. There were fewer tourists and the weather was great. We walked and didn’t feel fatigued by the heat at all, because it was the right temperature. Sadly the water was too cold for swimming, but it was still lovely to sit and admire as the minutes ticked away.

What are you favourite memories of  Barcelona?

Say happy birthday with flowers

LONDON – My friend surprised me with her birthday and I only found out because of Facebook. Whoops!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI thought I’d buy some flowers to wish her well. I picked these. I love the blue-purple colour in the white flower. Does anyone know the name of it? Please share if you do. I also bought us a pizza to share but my unpredictable oven overcooked it and what was meant to be a fun night in ended up being a tad embarrassing as dinner was reduced to burnt offerings. We managed to swallow a few bites though. Next time I’ll prepare better.