Monmouth Coffee

If you want a quick breather from the bustle of Borough Market, head for a pick-me-up at Monmouth across the way. It's on the corner of Park Street and Stoney Street, but the aroma of freshly ground coffee will lure you in better than any directions we can give you. Monmouth serves what is honestly some of the best coffee we have ever tasted. We kept it simple with a cappuccino and savoured it in the window-seat overlooking the market. Once our friends arrived we relocated to the long wooden table that you share with other coffee-lovers. Slabs of bakery goods line the far wall, or if you're in the mood for something savoury, there's a basket of freshly baked bread.

Monmouth has a lovely, down-to-earth feel about it - from the ridiculously reasonable prices (we paid £2.50 for a huge cup) to the note trusting customers to pay for what they've eaten. Everything is organic, from the milk to the cane sugar laid out in flowerpots. You can even pick up their Costa Rican beans to fuel your addiction at home.

www.monmouthcoffee.co.uk

27 Monmouth St, London WC2H 9EU

 

Street Feast

This Friday just gone saw the realisation of a months-long dream… we FINALLY made it to the wonder that is Dalston Street Feast. We arrived with the edgy horde in their weirdest and most wonderful attire, and were warmly ushered in by two friendly girls with too-short fringes and nose-rings. (Entry before 7pm is free, and is a huge £3 afterwards!) We made our way through the big warehouse door and were hit by an assault to the senses in the form of bright fairy lights, a contagious atmosphere of excitement, the beat of chilled music and chatter, smoke curling from the makeshift stoves and a multitude of mouthwatering aromas. Reminiscent of Singapore's hawker markets, the place seemed to be alive. We were quite literally taken aback and pulled ourselves together to make the impending decision of where on earth to start. So, obvs, we chose the Rum Shack, well, because rum. Crowded by a throng rather than a queue ('queueing isn't cool' reassures their sign) and were pretty damn pleased with our decision. Cue the most delicious, creamy piña colada this side of Mexico, perfectly frothy and better still, in a pineapple! We were also handed a refill, leading us to think we had died and gone to heaven. These cocktails (we also tried the Añejo Hiball which was a refreshing mix of lime juice, ginger beer, triple sec to compliment the serious lashings of rum) packed quite the punch - a few of these sent us on our way. 

Next priority: food. We hightailed it next door to Killer Tomato, where they were serving up some incredible veggie fare. The deep-fried avocado (vampire?!) taco instantly caught our eye, and good thing it did! This was possibly the most droolworthy, melt in your mouth flavour explosion you could imagine, and was perfectly balanced and perfectly addictive. We had to drag ourselves away before we ate the entire stall, and moved on to some sticky goodness at Yum Bun: pillowy white dough encapsulating succulent pork belly with hoisin for B and fragrant coriander lime shrimp for H. Things then descended into a hunt for the ideal cocktail - contenders were the Cocktail Shed, the Gin Store and the rooftop Tequila Bar (which would've won it on the location alone). Wanting something refreshing, Billie got a Floradora gin concoction fresh with raspberries and mint, Emily tried a fragrant fizzy Brits Spritz and Hannah got a Frontier craft lager. 

Then it was food's turn again. Sally was lured in by the promise of some authentic jerk chick, while the rest of us meandered towards the Chilean and Indian street food stands. Rola Wala dealt out some coriander chicken to 'tikka' Billie's fancy, and Hannah and Emily were enticed back to the crab shack we walked past on the way in. B.O.B.'s Lobster served up some exquisite lemony crab mayo on mini brioche - H was lusting after the lobster mac 'n' cheese but by this point we were all bursting at the seams. We may be going back to rectify this. 

The beauty of Street Feast is that everything is palm- (portion) sized, and will only set you back around £3.50 per plate, which allowed us to completely avoid the painstaking decision-making process: we could get everything! And there really were tastes from every corner of the globe. Also, guzzle more than your fair share of scrumptious cocktails, and then head to Pizza Pilgrims in a booze-fuelled binge and burn your mouth on some garlicy portobello mushroom and truffle pizza - it is SO worth it. (And only £6, for the whole thing… madness). 

Whilst this is (tragically) a seasonal affair, finishing on the 27th September (that's 2 weekends still to visit!), its winter counterpart (Hawker House) raises its head out of hibernation soon - find out more on their website

Long Live Southbank

Southbank is a well-known hotspot for art, culture, and creativity within London. The Southbank Undercroft is no exception to this - as it has been home to a thriving and diverse community of skateboarders, BMXers, riders, and artists alike since the 1970s. The Undercroft provides the perfect environment for skating as it is sheltered from the ubiquitous British rain, has conveniently flat smooth surfaces, and  a wealth of interesting architectural features, not to mention the graffiti covering every inch of the walls. Whether they realise it or not, the Undercroft features on many tourists' to-do list when visiting London: the stretch of embankment along the Southern Thames is a melting pot of carnival rides, street performers and musicians, and paves the way to the London Eye, making it a popular spot. 

The Undercroft is one of the most famous landmarks in British skateboarding history. However, in March 2013, this space of expression and creativity was disrupted as The Southbank Centre revealed proposals for a £120 million redevelopment of its 'Festival Wing'. These new plans included the conversion of the Southbank Undercroft into commercial units and the relocation of the historical skate spot further down the river. Shortly after this in April 2013, a non-profit organisation called 'Long Live Southbank' was set up to preserve the world-renowned, iconic British skate spot and represent the skateboarders, BMXers, riders and artists who spend so much time there. 

Long Live Southbank's campaign is dedicated to protecting Southbank Undercroft in its current form so that its vitality of creativity and community can be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

For more information on Long Live Southbank - including becoming a member, volunteering at their table at the Undercroft or to buy a t-shirt - check out their website here





Travel Photographer of the Year

Travel Photographer of the Year is a free exhibition in Kensington's museum district showcasing the best in travel photography from around the world taken by amateurs and professionals alike. Today consisted of marvelling at the huge variety of photos on display - being transported all over the world, from the colourful Holi Festival in India, to Japanese baboons huddling for warmth in hot springs, to Icelandic geological black-and-white beauties, to a Mongolian child with his eagle friend. 

Here are some of the incredible winners shown at the exhibition...

 
 

The exhibition is being held at the Royal Geographical Society (SW7 2AR - nearest tube: South Kensington) until the 17th August. Get yourselves down there before it's too late!

For more information, check out their website at http://www.tpoty.com

Market Roundup Pt 1

BROADWAY MARKET

Broadway Market is a great little venture if you are ever wandering around East London and have a few extra hours to spare. Its farmers market boasts a wide range of stalls for all you food-lovers (like us) including artisan cheese and bread, olives, fresh bakes, gelato and organic meat, fruit and veg.

The Heavenly Halloumi burger from The Veggie Table is a must - whether you're vegetarian or not. The combination of halloumi cheese with organic carrots, courgettes, mint and coriander will make you think twice about having a meat burger ever again (this coming from two seasoned carnivores!).

If you get thirsty, there is a vast array of quirky pubs to choose from. However, we decided to opt for the frozen cocktails (strawberry daiquiri or mojito) that were being passed through a hole in the wall by The Souls Bar. £5 per cup may seem a bit steep, but these drinks definitely have a kick to them as we found out after only one, and are made with truly fresh ingredients, aside from being delicious and refreshing  – much needed after escaping the throngs and the summer sun.

Broadway market also has a large selection of thrifty clothes stalls where you can find printed shirts galore and a denim jacket or fifty. The market has it all – you can find the most obscure purchases such as origami necklaces.

To get to Broadway Market is an easy 15 minutes stroll from Bethnal Green underground station (on the Central Line). At the station, take the exit to the right, which will lead you onto Cambridge Heath Road. Turning right, follow this road for about 10 minutes until you reach Regent’s Canal then turn left onto Andrews Road. From here, you can walk along the canal pathway - where bookshops and thrift shops appear out of and atop of canal boats. After a few minutes, you will come across some steps before a bridge. Climb these and Broadway Market will be right in front of you.