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    Being a Food/Book Worm at Boulevard Bookshop, Hastings

    Last weekend, during my visit to the seaside town of Hastings, I got the pleasure of experiencing one of the coolest restaurants I have ever been to!

    Being an English graduate, I love books and being an over-indulgent eater, I love food. Therefore, when my friend told me that she had booked us a table at a Thai restaurant… in a bookshop, I was one happy bunny.

    Nestled down one of Hastings’ old town’s side streets, Boulevard Books is cute in every sense…

    From the outside, it disguises itself as an ordinary, iconic bookshop. With dusty secondhand books cluttering the windows and shelves upon shelves of ancient novels crying out to be flicked through from inside, Boulevard Bookshop oozes so much mystery and character that I would go in within a second, even without the promise of scrumptious Thai food.

    On entering the bookshop, we were greeted by a collection of dining tables, which were adorably tucked into cubbyholes amongst the abundance of bookshelves. Each table was embellished with its own unique, Thai-inspired throw and the chairs and cushions were a mishmash of different shapes, sizes, materials and colours – adding to the disorderly yet, cosy feel of the restaurant.

    Boulevard Books, Hastings - Table - My Culture Craving

    Our table was surrounded by shelves and shelves of old, literary classics (which you are allowed to buy/read at the table, if you wish) and was already laid out with menus, wine glasses, prawn crackers and two heavenly, Thai dipping sauces – it had such a comforting and homely atmosphere, that I almost forgot not to slurp my wine and eat with my elbows on the table!

    Boulevard Books, Hastings - Thai Food - My Culture Craving

    The menu offered up a selection of tasty traditional Thai starters and mains including tom yam kai (a fragrant Thai soup), som tum ma mung (a vibrant Thai style salad) and panaeng nua (to name but a few)…

    I went for the salad to start, which was light, flavoursome and fresh and for the chicken mussaman curry for main, which was authentic and delicious.

    Boulevard Books, Hastings - Food - My Culture Craving

    Although the presentation of the food wasn’t quite up to Masterchef standards, the dishes rusticity only made them that bit more unique and wholesome.

    And at the bargain price of £13 for both courses and the fact that you can take your own alcohol (at a £2 supplement charge), you can’t go wrong with a  visit to this charming and homely restaurant.

    Make sure you book a table before you go as it gets very busy (especially at weekends) and don’t forget to pick up a bottle en route!

    Feed your inner geek (literally) and head down to Boulevard Books!

    Have you ever been to Boulevard Bookshop before? Or, do you know of any other cool, quirky restaurants, which are worth checking out? Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :)! 

    The Best of Brunch in Canterbury, Kent

    Brunch is Sunday’s saving grace.

    Whether you’re hungover and in need of some tender lovin’ care (of the food variety) or, you simply want to gorge on mouthwatering, fabulous food before your ‘diet starts’ on Monday, Canterbury is bursting with some great places to indulge in everything from scrumptious cakes and pastries to calorific pancakes and waffles.

    For anyone who is planning a visit to this charming city, make sure you check out at least one of these brunch joints:

    The Best of Brunch in Canterbury, Kent - Canteen - My Culture Craving

    Canteen

    Nestled down a cute, cobbled side street alongside the Cathedral, Canteen offers everything from zesty fruit smoothies and velvet-smooth frozen yogurt to melt-in-your-mouth Mediterranean flat breads and bulging burritos.

    Priding itself on each item on the menu being lovingly made to order from fresh, local produce, Canteen is the perfect hangout spot for a wholesome yet, healthy meal, which won’t leave you feeling like a sack of potatoes.

    The Best of Brunch in Canterbury, Kent - Cafe - My Culture Craving

    Mrs Jones’ Kitchen

    Based in the heart of Canterbury, Mrs Jones’ Kitchen provides great quality, honest food in a relaxing, light and airy environment.

    Whether you are craving a luscious, freshly baked slice of cake, a strong cup of aromatic coffee or a plate piled high with their hot dish of the day, this cafe serves up one of the finest (and best value) brunches in the city.

    The Best of Brunch in Canterbury, Kent - Food - My Culture Craving

    Chocolate Cafe

    Chocolate Cafe is a chocoholics haven.

    This Italian inspired cafe offers an extensive menu filled to the brim with naughty chocolate delicacies.

    From heavenly pastries and dainty truffles to chocolate-doused Belgian waffles and uniquely flavoured cakes, there is no question in where you need to go in Canterbury to get your daily chocolate fix.

    The Best of Brunch in Canterbury, Kent - My Culture Craving

    Cafe Chambers

    This American pancake house is my most recent discovery in Canterbury.

    Selling everything from extravagant stacks of thick, fluffy pancakes smeared in gooey maple syrup, berries and cream to unusually flavoured milkshakes such as, peanut butter, banoffee and gingerbread, each item on Cafe Chambers’ menu oozes pure American indulgence.

    With its diverse menu, fabulous view of the Cathedral and rich history, Cafe Chambers is a must visit if you’re in desperate need of satisfying that Sunday morning sweet tooth.

    The Best of Brunch in Canterbury, Kent - Restaurant - My Culture Craving

    La Trappiste 

    One of the most popular restaurants in town, La Trappsite is a Belgian inspired bakery/restaurant, which provides the very best in freshly baked bread, cakes and pastries as well as, gourmet slap up meals.

    Although this restaurant is busy all year round, during the summer months it overflows with customers flocking to the rooftop terrace to soak up the sun whilst sinking a crisp Belgian beer.

    Make your way here for a decent, strong coffee and anything from a croissant to a hugeeee bowl of moules mariniere. Nom nom nom.

    Where’s your favourite place to go in Canterbury for Brunch? Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :)!

    Tapas O’Clock at Kazbar, Oxford

    As soon as my friend and I stepped into Kazbar on Cowley Road in Oxford, we felt as though we’d been transported into a rustic Moroccan bar… in Spain.

    The glass conservatory, which holds the bar, created the illusion that we were outside.

    Green ivy, foliage and twigs crept their way up the faded-mustard coloured walls and were draped in beads, flickering candle holders, pieces of fabric and random ornaments, which all contributed to the restaurant’s consciously shabby decor.

    Tapas O'Clock at Kazbar, Oxford - Decor - My Culture Craving

    Once we’d stopped ourselves from drooling over the cocktail menu at the bar, we were led through to the restaurant area, where the Moroccan charm waltzed up a gear.

    Tapas O'Clock at Kazbar, Oxford - Lamp - My Culture Craving

    Greeted by intricate, glowing lanterns of all shapes and sizes, which were randomly scattered throughout the restaurant, endearing large Spanish posters plastered tastefully across the ochre walls, strings of twinkling fairy lights dangling in the windows and shabby chic stone benches plumped up with inviting deep red, fluffy cushions. All of which, were topped off with cute, mosaic tables and grand, green potted plants, which both added to the al fresco dining feel of the restaurant.

    Tapas O'Clock at Kazbar, Oxford - Table Setting - My Culture Craving

    Tapas O'Clock at Kazbar, Oxford - Table - My Culture Craving

    Team all of this with the sweet smell of incense sticks and the mellow beat of flamenco music, and you’ve got yourself a Mediterranean haven.

    Tapas O'Clock at Kazbar, Oxford - Table Decor - My Culture Craving

    As I was driving, I couldn’t indulge in one of their mouth-watering cocktails or largeeee refreshing beers however, both the Fig and Vanilla Daiquiri and Marrakesh Express sounded particularly delicious (damn you driving!)

    Nevertheless, as there was no alcohol in the mix, this only meant one thing – we had to make up for it in food… and that, my friends, we did…

    Wanting to sample anything and everything on the menu (looking back, our eyes were definitely being farrrr too greedy for our bellies), we ended up choosing eight tapas dishes and a side of bread between the two of us. Ranging from tasty paella and fragrant beef tagine to succulent, paprika infused octopus and flavoursome gambas pil pil, everything was scrumptious and reasonably priced (approx £3-8).

    We left feeling as plump and round as the comfy cushions we reclined onto after we had finished stuffing our faces.

    Tapas O'Clock at Kazbar, Oxford - Tapas - My Culture Craving

    Whether you are looking for a chilled out bar to slurp on a cocktail or two and enjoy your surroundings or a restaurant to have an evening meal, Kazbar oozes relaxation yet, excites every one of your senses at the same time!

    Pop in and let Kazbar bring the Mediterranean to you… Surely that’s an offer no one can refuse?

    Have you ever been to Kazbar on Cowley Road, Oxford? What was your favourite part of the experience? Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :)!

    A Taste of Mumbai in London

    When my friend told me that she had arranged for us to go for lunch at Dishoom, a Bombay-cafe inspired restaurant in Covent Garden, London I was over the moon.

    Loving anything and everything, which sparks my fond memories of my time in India, I headed to their website to tantalize my excitement even more. Once I’d browsed their menu, scanned their rave reviews on TripAdvisor and unraveled a lot of heartwarming memories of my time in Mumbai, I couldn’t wait to check it out for myself!

    After finding my way from Leicester Square tube station, I entered the restaurant to the strong, comforting smell of Indian spices and chai.

    The hustle and bustle of the restaurant instantly reminded me of the cafes in Mumbai… albeit, with a luxurious, modern and opulent twist.

    The rustic framed Bollywood photographs and original ads from Bombay newspapers, which line the walls, the low hanging filament lights that weave their way along the ceiling like black intertwined electrical wires, the traditional Indian silver water cups, which are stacked up on the table, just as they would be in a classic Indian cafe and the cabinets of authentic Indian toiletries in the bathroom, all bring the balance of tone, taste and tradition together, perfectly.

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Decoration - My Culture Craving

    And that’s before we’ve even discussed food and drink…

    As we hadn’t booked a table (go here for the restaurant’s terms on reserving tables), we had around a 40 minute wait. However, this just meant we had time to indulge in a tasty tipple at the bar downstairs beforehand.

    The restaurant is made up of two floors. The first floor, where the hectic open kitchen stands proudly, is more light, laid back, and suited for lunch. Whereas the downstairs, which houses the cocktail bar, is more dark, atmospheric and befitting for dinner.

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Kitchen - My Culture Craving

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Seating - My Culture Craving

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Restaurant - My Culture Craving (2)

    Whilst we relaxed at the bar, I ordered a traditional, spiced chai.

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Chai - My Culture Craving

    Looking back, I wish I’d pushed the boat out and tried one of their unique spins on the classic Indian drinks of chai and lassi. The Bailey’s chai and rose and cardamon lassi sounded divine however, I couldn’t help myself but stick with what I knew, loved and missed…

    The traditional chai was scrumptious and burst with the delicious taste and smell of an Indian, spice bazaar.

    Once we had been seated, we quickly reeled off the order we had been drooling over ever since we had set eyes on the menu. We then sat goggling at the other table’s food until ours arrived.

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Menu - My Culture Craving

    We started with the vegetable samosas (£3.10), which were crispy and jam-packed with flavour. We then followed with a selection of dishes to share – the mattar paneer (£7.50), chicken ruby (£8.20), masala prawns (£11.20), chicken berry Britannia biryani (£8.50)… all accompanied with a batch of garlic naan (£2.20) to mop up the heavenly sauces.

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Food - My Culture Craving

    A Taste of Mumbai in London - Curry - My Culture Craving

    Although everything, which touched my palate was exquisite, the chicken ruby was just… WOW. The combination of succulent moist chicken and a deep rich, flavoursome sauce was out of this world. I completely understand why this dish is a recommended favourite at the restaurant!

    We left Dishoom not toooo worse for wear on the money front and very happy that we weren’t overly full… a feeling, which I’m sure we can all vouch for, usually happens after a hefty Indian.

    If you are looking for some great quality Indian food with attentive and bubbly staff and a buzzing atmosphere, then make sure you head to Dishoom!

    They also serve hearty, traditional Indian breakfasts from 8am-11.30am on weekdays and 9am – midday on weekends. Check out their menu, here.

    And, if you don’t happen to be in the Covent Garden area, they also have restaurants in Kings Cross and Shoreditch.

    Enjoy, and let me know how the Bailey’s chai are… I’ll definitely be popping back in for one of those babies!

    Have you ever been to Dishoom in Covent Garden? What were your favourite dishes? Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :)!

    Too Many Pies, Too Many Many Pies…

    During my recent trip to Edinburgh my friends and I stumbled upon the perfect hangover cure… A TRADITIONAL PIE SHOP.

    Looking a little rough around the edges from the outside, The Pie Maker could be mistaken for a dodgy diner. However, like a lot of traditional eateries, once we took the plunge inside, it was a gem.

    It was everything you could ever want from a pie shop.

    Traditional, wholesome, cheap (£1.50 pies!) and delicious. I went up to the counter at least three times to try as many of their heavenly pastries as possible.

    Pie Maker, Edinburgh - Shop - My Culture Craving

    Pie Maker, Edinburgh - Food - My Culture Craving

    From freshly baked steak and ale and chicken and mushroom pies to Scottish haggis, turnip and mash pies, mac n’ cheese pies and tatty dogs – a yummy marriage of hot dog and fried potato – here, you can be as adventurous or traditional as you please (check out their menu here).

    After admiring their wide choice of succulent pies, slices and sausage rolls as well as their mouth-watering sweet pastries, we chose our pies and perched on the stools, which lined the room. I went for the haggis, turnip and mash pie (£1.60), which was scrumptious and, a great way to sample some of Scotland’s traditional delicacies!

    Pie Maker, Edinburgh - My Culture Craving

    Pie Maker, Edinburgh - Haggis Pie - My Culture Craving

    I then delved into the ever so unhealthy yet, ever so irresistible mac n’ cheese pie…

    Pie Maker, Edinburgh - Mac n' Cheese Pie - My Culture Craving

    After sampling everyone else’s pies and tatty dogs, we decided that it was time to stop eating, waddle our way to the nearest pub and wash all of the food down with a warming glass of red.

    If you are heading to Edinburgh anytime soon, make sure you check out The Pie Maker! It is cheap, cheerful and yumtastic!

    Keep an eye out on the blog for more posts on my trip to Edinburgh.

    I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and have a Happy, Sloshy New Year!  

    Tequila, Burrito, Por Favor – Club Burrito, Canterbury

    When I visited Canterbury a couple of weekends ago, my friends and I made the most of being back on student turf and did what students do best… we ‘painted the town red’ two nights on the trot (woahhhhowow).

    However, after an alcohol fueled night on the Friday, we awoke on the Saturday morning feeling a little worse for wear and desperate for something stodgy to soak up the remaining cider sloshing around in our stomachs.

    Therefore, keen to make the most of being back in Canterbury, we trudged our way into the city centre, in search of salvation – of the food variety. Having heard a lot about the delicious and affordable burritos, at one of Canterbury’s newest restaurants ‘Club Burrito’, we thought we would check it out. Carbs – check, cheese – check, meat – check… we were always going to be a bunch of easy to please customers.

    Nestled down one of Canterbury’s quaint, cobbled side streets, Club Burrito sticks out like a sore thumb. With its wacky rodeo-esque sign, vibrant colour scheme, quirky graffiti drawings, kaleidoscopic fairy lights and rustic outside seating area, you can’t help but be enticed by this restaurant’s eccentric, Mexican charm.

    The inside of the restaurant has a chilled out hostel vibe. The bar is lined with vibrant bottles of tequila, vivid coloured soft drinks and Mexican inspired beers and spirits, whilst the walls are plastered in rustic panels of wood, interesting pictures and traditional, brightly coloured masks.

    Club Burrito, Canterbury - Inside - My Culture Craving

    After admiring the eclectic decor, it didn’t take us long to find our way to the counter.

    Laid out like a posh Subway, you order at the counter, watch as they create your heavenly Mexican mix of yum and pay there and then – perfect for when you don’t fancy waiting around for your food (or, when you’re hungover and hungry).

    With a choice of burritos or tacos and a filling of beef, chicken, pork, veggie and toppings, you’re bound to be spoilt for choice. Whatever you choose, everything on the menu is £6.50 (50p extra for guacamole) and of a substantial size. They even serve the burritos wrapped in cute personalised paper and cradled in adorable baskets (it’s the little touches).

    Club Burrito, Canterbury - Burrito - My Culture Craving

    Despite being a little bit messy to eat (I looked like a starved warthog as I devoured mine), my chicken burrito was ‘delicioso’ and really hit the spot. My friend even went back for seconds!

    As well as being a hip place to chill out for a spot of lunch, Club Burrito also hosts a diverse range of exciting events. From open mic nights and live bands to club nights and poetry readings, there’s something for everyone at this upbeat saloon.

    So, head over to Club Burrito for a couple of cocktail potions, a tequila slammer and some slurred poetry…

    I’m hoping next time I visit I’ll be feeling a little more up to sampling one tequila, two tequila, three tequila… four?

    Find out more on their website or on their Facebook or Twitter page.