Rosie Romance

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Culinary Capitals: Eating Out In Reykjavik, Iceland


"Blind is a bookless man." - Icelandic Proverb

Being a self-confessed foodie and travel-holic, it seems I've subconsciously made it my life's mission to eat my way around the world. So, during a recent 3-day trip to Iceland, Tom and I spent our days (and nights) visiting as many restaurants as possible - eating as much as was physically possible - to experience first-hand what the Icelandic culinary scene is really like. (Bye bye, waistline). 

In recent years, Reykjavik, the country's capital and the base for our trip, has established itself as a true foodie destination, earning itself its first Michelin star in 2017. So with a massive influx of tourists wanting a slice of Nordic cool, there are now more restaurants in the city than you can shake a stick at. Taking advantage of their local seafood and hand-reared meats, the capital is the perfect destination if you're looking for a taste of New Nordic cuisine. 

In veritable Viking style, hearty meat stews, fermented shark, reindeer meatballs and puffin are just a handful of the local dishes you'll stumble across - but this is just the tip of Iceland's culinary iceberg.  In complete contrast, many restaurants not only recognise the global vegan trend but are able to serve up a delicious plant-based storm. So whatever your dietary preferences, you won't go hungry in Reykjavik any time soon. 


KRÖST

Located in the Hlemmur food court, Kröst is one of 10 vendors providing a sample of the best food that Iceland has to offer. Set in a casual, relaxed environment typical of European food halls, you'll find artisan pastries, gourmet coffee, open sandwiches, Mexican street food, experimental cuisine, ice-cream, local beers, cocktails and upscale dining all under one roof. 

Specialising in cured meats, grilled delicacies and fine French wines, Kröst's menu is small but mighty fine. With a head chef who sharpened his skills at top steakhouses in Iceland, the restaurant offers a crafted selection of sustainable meat and fish dishes, grilled to perfection in a wood-fired oven. 

As well as offering contemporary dishes, Kröst stays true to its Icelandic roots, serving up meat soup and plokkfiskur, a traditional Icelandic fish stew - and with a strong hold on the Western world, they also offer a steak (or vegan) burger. Whatever you're craving, there's something for everyone at Kröst. And if you're partial to a glass of prosecco (or four), be sure to pop in during their 'prosecco happy hour' from 2pm-6pm. 


Kopar

If you're looking for romance in Reykjavik, head to Kopar. What was once a fully working fishing shed serving Iceland's marina is now a colourful, charming restaurant overlooking the historic Old Harbour.  

With a strong focus on quality, locally-sourced produce, Kopar offers diners an exciting glimpse into the world of contemporary Icelandic cuisine. Juxtaposing new flavours and techniques with those of old, Kopar succeeds in whisking diners on an exciting culinary journey, surprising and seducing them in a unique and vibrant setting. 

The à la carte menu is appealing from start to finish. From mouth-watering lobster and crab soup, topped with a lobster-filled choux pastry and Coca-cola braised pork belly to battered tofu pops and papaya pecan salad, each dish brings something new and intriguing to the table. But worry not, you don't have to choose; during the festive season, Kopar offers a delectable 8-course 'Christmas Adventure' menu to appease all food desires and they also offer a full vegan 'Christmas Adventure' menu for those looking for a plant-based option.

If you're not already drawn in by the food and the ambience, the expertly-crafted cocktail menu will definitely seal the deal. With quirky names (Planet of the Grapes being my absolute fave) and original flavour combinations, I challenge you to find a cocktail that doesn't tickle your fancy. 





AALTO Bistro

Overlooking a beautiful lake on the outskirts of Reykjavik's city centre, nestled inside The Nordic House arts centre, you'll find AALTO Bistro.  Named after the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who made The Nordic House a reality, AALTO Bistro serves up a tantalising array of Scandinavian fare, which draws upon strong Central-European influences. While the dining room is contemporary and artsy, it allows the food to shine and take centre stage. In true New Nordic style, AALTO Bistro prides itself on using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients (many grown in their own greenhouses) to bring diners the finest flavours of Iceland. 

With Celebrity Chef Sveinn Kjartansson leading the way for AALTO Bistro, each dish incorporates a dash of his trademark magic to create the prettiest - and tastiest - of plates. Although seafood is one of Kjartansson's specialities and features prominently throughout the menu, AALTO Bistro also offers a selection of meat and vegan dishes, allowing everyone to come together to enjoy the culinary delights that AALTO Bistro has to offer. 

From succulent starters of cured Arctic char and salmon mousse and Cognac-infused seafood soup to mouth-watering main courses of rhubarb glazed cod with shiitake mushrooms and racks of garlic-smoked lamb with crispy Parma ham and apple cranberry salad, every element of each dish has been meticulously pieced together to bring all of the flavours to life. Sweetening the final moments of the dining experience at AALTO Bistro, delve into the lavender honeycake with orange and white chocolate or the baked cinnamon apples with crushed ginger biscuit and advent ice cream. You'll want savour every last bite until your next visit. 




Ramen Momo

Near the Old Harbour, you'll find a tiny, unassuming restaurant called Ramen Momo - the only ramen bar in all of Iceland. With around 10 stools, it gets full pretty quickly but if you can't get a seat, there's the option to get your ramen to take away. Either way, your taste buds will thank you for the ambrosial bowl of Asian comfort food to come. 

First of all, what makes Ramen Momo's ramens so special is their homemade organic noodles. They hold their shape and texture for the whole time it takes to finish your bowl (because let's face it, nobody likes a soggy noodle). Secondly, the diner has complete control over their ramen; with a choice of broth and toppings - meat, seafood or vegan - for approximately £12. And if you fancy going all out, treat yourself to an additional side of gyoza, kimchi or edamame beans for a not-too-shabby £6. 

It's a well-known fact that eating out in Iceland can be rather expensive but finding hidden gems like the flavoursome Ramen Momo makes it very affordable.




Have you eaten out in Reykjavik?










Canada's Capital: 48hrs in Ottawa, Ontario


'For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home' 
- Simon Van Booy

As a British tourist, when thinking of cosmopolitan Canadian cities, it's often that Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are the first to spring to mind while Ottawa is usually left without a single thought. But with so much history, culture and adventure on offer, Ottawa is by no means any less of a multicultural metropolis than her Canadian counterparts and in fact, she's a pretty cool place to explore - come snow or shine!

Appointed as Canada's capital city in 1857 by Queen Victoria, Ottawa is indeed the epitome of bureaucracy but after spending a short while in her company, it's safe to say that there's a lot more to Ottawa than politics, poutine and pucks (of the ice hockey variety, of course). 

Where To Stay

ARC The Hotel, 140 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario


Ottawa's first boutique hotel, ARC The Hotel, pairs ultimate comfort with unobtrusive luxury set inside a beautiful contemporary design. Centrally located in Downtown Ottawa, ARC The Hotel offers a tranquil dwelling for those looking to explore the city and is within walking distance of many of Ottawa's top attractions including Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, ByWard Market and The National Gallery of Canada.


Enter into the lobby where you will be greeted with the warmest of welcomes and a truly harmonious atmosphere. Oversized windows fill the space with natural light while bright bursts of red breathe life into the muted brown and grey tones. On the walls, local art is proudly displayed which pays homage to Ottawa's history and subtly accentuates the hotel's creative energy. Atop a mezzanine floor, you will find a large, lavish lounging area with sizeable sofas and stylish tables, offering guests the opportunity to be social in a comfortable and homely environment.


With a choice of 112 rooms and suites, there's a space perfect for everyone; whether you require a queen room, a kingsize room, a double room or a luxury suite. Each room is modern, minimalist and calming with all the amenities required to provide impeccable comfort. The bathrooms come complete with deep Roman bath tubs, powerful showers, vanity mirrors and a selection of Gilchrist & Soames toiletries. And with luxurious linen, plush bathrobes and a pillow menu, ARC The Hotel is dedicated to providing its guests with a blissful night's sleep. 

When you're not out exploring Ottawa, ARC The Hotel makes it very easy for guests to enjoy some down time in their rooms: watch some HD TV complete with premium cable channels or take advantage of the in-room complimentary WiFi. Lounge in the sumptuous arm chairs with a good book or munch on the complimentary fruit and bottled water. What's more, ARC is a pet-friendly hotel so guests can enjoy all of these moments alongside their furry friends.


While there are many places to dine out in Ottawa, ARC The Hotel's lounge and bar is a must visit if you're looking to embark on a culinary journey across Canada. Providing a versatile space ideal for both intimate dining and group gatherings, the ARC lounge and bar prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients to create mouth-watering dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Start your day with a hearty classic breakfast or healthy smoothie and finish it with Ontario pickerel and a chia-spiced creme brûlée. But if you don't fancy dining in in the restaurant, the devoted lounge and bar team will ensure you receive the same unrivalled dining experience and delicious food in the comfort of your own room instead. Nothing is too much trouble for ARC The Hotel, making it a great place to stay in Ottawa whether you're visiting for business or pleasure. 



What To Do

Visit Parliament Hill, 111 Wellington St, Ottawa, Ontario

Overlooking the Ottawa River, Parliament Hill is home to Canada’s federal government. Vast, yawning archways, copper-topped turrets and Gothic revival gargoyles dominate the facade of the stunning lime and sandstone Parliament buildings. Completed in 1865, Canada's political core welcomes visitors year-round; tours are free but a same-day ticket, which are offered on a first-come first-served basis, must be acquired from the ticket office to gain entry and expect lengthy security checks on arrival.

As well ascending the Peace Tower, discover Centre Block and see the Senate, the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament. The Library of Parliament is the only part of the original structure to survive a disastrous fire in 1916 and has often been called The Most Beautiful Room in Canada.


Visit ByWard Market, 55 ByWard Market Square, Ottawa, Ontario

The ByWard Market is one of the oldest and largest farmers’ markets in Canada, as well as the name of the eclectic neighbourhood that surrounds it. Ottawa’s entertainment district is filled with great restaurants, clubs, bistros, coffee shops, boutiques and food retailers making it a cool place to explore while you're in town. In the height of summer, up to 175 outdoor market stalls sell an endless selection of art, jewellery, plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables so there's something for all tastes to enjoy. You'll also find the original Beaver Tails stall, which serves up the most iconic and delicious Canadian pastries known to man. 



Visit Parc Omega, 399 Road 323 North, Montebello, Quebec 

Located approximately 1hr from Ottawa and situated on 2200 acres of beautiful Canadian landscape, Parc Omega allows you to observe Canadian wildlife within their natural habitat. From the comfort of your own car, take the safari tour while listening to Parc Omega's informative radio station and come face-to-face with red deer, moose, elk, bison, wolves, bears and more. Before you embark on the tour, be sure to purchase a bag of carrots from the gift shop to feed to the smaller roaming animals  - they will love you forever!



Visit the Rideau Canal, Queen Elizabeth Drive, Ottawa, Ontario

Stroll along the Rideau Canal through downtown Ottawa and explore the series of lakes, rivers, and canals. Winding 202 kilometres from Kingston to Ottawa and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the canal fills Ottawa with quaint bridges with waterfront views, and a system of paths to explore downtown Ottawa by foot and fresh air. In the winter, watch as the canal turns into the world’s largest naturally frozen ice skating rink and thousands strap on skates to commute to work or for play. Ottawa’s popular Winterlude Festival takes place over several weekends in February each year along the canal, featuring ice carvings, a snow playground, and skating.


Visit the National Gallery of Canada380 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario

The National Gallery is a work of art in itself: its striking ensemble of pink granite and glass spires echoes the ornate copper-topped towers of nearby Parliament. Inside, vaulted galleries exhibit predominantly Canadian art, classic and contemporary, including an impressive collection of work by Inuit and other indigenous artists. It's the world's largest Canadian collection, although additional galleries of European and American treasures include several recognizable names and masterpieces.  


Visit the Bank of Canada Museum, 30 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario

The Bank of Canada Museum reopened on July 1, 2017 in a totally renovated building on Sparks Street, sharing an impressive glass entrance with the Bank’s conference centre. The new facility features a gift shop, an educational space, a bright and open visitor centre as well as temporary and permanent exhibition halls. Positioning itself as the heart of the economic system with fun, hands-on and interactive exhibits that cover everything from how people’s expectations affect the health of an economy to how inflation targeting works, the museum mixes in high-tech interactive and informative videos, multimedia stations and old-school exhibits featuring centuries’ worth of economic artefacts.




How do you like to spend your time in Ottawa?

Unique Hotels: Hotel 10, Montreal


"Believe in something." - Dédé Fortin

Montreal; edgy, nonconformist, seductive and bohemian. A cultural chameleon with bundles of European charm, a vibrant arts scene, mouth-watering food and home to one of the most extraordinarily unique hotels that I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. 

On the corner of Sherbrooke Street West and St Lawrence Boulevard stands Hotel 10. From the outside, it looks like many other modern boutique hotels; a contemporary, grey, square structure with floor-to-ceiling glass windows lining half of its external perimeter. It's only when you venture inside that you realise Hotel 10 is in a class of its own. Behind the glass lies an ultra-modern reception area complete with stylish furnishings, offering guests a glimpse of what to expect from the rest of the hotel. Sophisticated, abstract and chic and with striking bursts of colour. 

But there's more to this than meets the eye.

Hotel 10 actually comprises of two contrasting buildings that live in harmony. It may not be obvious to the average passerby but the contemporary grey structure was built to complement its art nouveau neighbour; an original residential building built by Joseph Arthur Godin, which dates back to 1915. In bringing the old and the new together, Hotel 10 has created a space that remains true to its heritage but is bang on trend. And in return, the whole hotel has an incredible sense of character which mirrors Montreal's personality perfectly.


Whatever the occasion, Hotel 10 has a tastefully furnished room for all. Single rooms, double rooms, privilege and deluxe rooms as well as a glorious selection of luxury suites to make your stay even more comfortable. From deep-soak bath tubs and LCD TVs to large lounging areas and vintage sofas, each suite is so comfortable and unique that a regular room will no longer suffice. 

Of all the rooms at Hotel 10, there's one so special it will bring tears to your eyes: Suite 2116. Located in the original Godin building, Suite 2116 pays homage to Dédé Fortin, the lead singer of Les Colocs, who formerly resided in this exact room in the 1990s. Thanks to Dédé, Les Colocs had a huge impact on the Montreal music scene and were the inspiration to many musicians in the early 2000s. Sadly on 8th May 2000, Dédé took his own life but his legacy lives on through his music, his family and here at Hotel 10. Around Suite 2116, you will find hand-written notes from Dédé himself, stained glass windows and a mural dedicated to his life, enabling guests to share a moment with him and to fully immerse themselves in his art.


Along with its heart-achingly beautiful story, Suite 2116 is also full of life's little luxuries. Being the corner room, its large windows fill the space with light while a round vintage loveseat overlooks Downtown Montreal. In keeping with the hotel, the suite is furnished superbly with pops of blue and yellow. With a king-sized bed, an enormous mirrored bathroom and sleek sofas, guests can relax and unwind with Dédé in comfort. As Suite 2116 is so close to Hotel 10's heart, a 10% donation from each reservation is made to the Dédé Fortin Foundation, which is dedicated to the prevention of suicide and mental health disorders. 




For those looking for the ultimate luxury apartment within a hotel, the Penthouse is the perfect escape. A home from home. Spread over two floors with floor-to-ceiling wraparound windows overlooking Montreal, a 'floating' loft bedroom with a king-sized bed, a stunning bathroom complete with a deep bathtub and a walk-in shower, automatic window shades, a contemporary lounge area, a dining room and a fully furnished kitchen, this is a suite with pizzazz aplenty so why not push the boat out? 



There are so many great restaurants in Montreal but once settled in at Hotel 10, you don't really have to leave! A buffet style breakfast is served daily in Espace Godin - the beautiful space created to join the old building to the new - bringing guests the best of local and seasonal produce and offering an optimum start to the day. Adjacent to Espace Godin is Café Origine, which showcases some of the best baristas in Montreal. Here, you can drop in for an artisan coffee, a sweet treat or set up camp for the day with delicious coffee and snacks on tap. When hunger strikes again, head to Le Bar 20, which serves a simple yet scrumptious snack menu and is open until 11pm. They're also known for their fantastic wine and cocktail menu, making it a very convenient place to socialise then stumble up to your room after a drink (or twelve). 


With a strong connection to local history and art, Hotel 10 has decided to tell its story through its walls. Throughout Espace Godin, you will find old black and white photographs of Montreal juxtaposed against contemporary drawings and seductive colours. This unique style of decor is one of the hotel's focal points (as well as their fabulous toilets but I'll let you discover those for yourself). It makes each visit personal, allowing people from all walks of life to get to know the real Montreal and see it in all its glory. 

Another art form favoured by Hotel 10 is perception art. Located on several floors, you will find drawings that will only become apparent when standing at a particular spot. A stiletto, a saxophone player and a guitar are some of the images you will see. Not only does this offer guests something fun to do but it shows that the people behind the hotel are also creatively-driven. By no means is this another corporate hotel; it's bold, it's unique and it's full of life. 



So if you ever find yourself in Montreal, Hotel 10 will make you feel right at home. Not only will you find a gorgeous room to call your own for the night and incredible staff to tend to your every beck and call, it will draw on your creative spirit; you'll learn something new about this wonderful city and you'll find another version of yourself within its history and its art that will ensure a little bit of Montreal is always with you.




Have you ever been to Montreal?

5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Visit Holmes Mill, Lancashire


“Never expect owt for nowt.” 
― Sylvia Lovat Corbridge


One of the things that makes Britain so great is our wonderful heritage. Be it positive or negative, we like to remember exactly where we've come from and use this knowledge to honour our ancestors in the best way possible. Wherever we can, we like to preserve things - and turning derelict spaces into cool lifestyle destinations seems to be right on-trend at the moment. So on our recent trip to Clitheroe in Lancashire, it felt only natural that Tom and I spend a day exploring Holmes Mill, a former 19th Century textiles mill, and connect with Lancashire on a more emotional level.

For over 40 years, Holmes Mill had been left abandoned due to the decline in the industry in the North West; until recently, in 2015, when the site was acquired by the James' Places Group. With a strong creative vision and a burning desire to bring the building back to life, the James' Places Group have been working hard to create a modern-day destination that can be celebrated by the people of Lancashire and beyond. A haven, if you will, to showcase the best of Lancashire's food, drink and entertainment. 

So, without further ado, here are 5 reasons why you should grab your favourites and venture up North for a bimble around this unique historical site. 




1. It's got its own hotel.

Located in what used to be a Victorian weaving shed, The Spinning Block Hotel is a brand new addition to the Holmes Mill empire. With only 16 rooms currently fully furnished, the hotel will remain under construction from Mondays to Wednesdays until all of its 38 rooms have been individually designed and decorated. From Thursdays to Saturdays, the hotel is open for business and guests can enjoy a comfortable stay (without any disturbance from building work) at the newly reinvented modern mill.

Each double room boasts a slick and stylish design; a muted, clean-cut colour scheme complete with upscale chrome and glass furnishings. With an ensuite bathroom, spacious double bed, walk-in shower, widescreen TV, writing desk, storage space and tea-making facilities (life without a cuppa is no life at all), it's apparent that the rooms have been designed for ultimate comfort but still remain true to their 19th Century roots. Although The Spinning Block Hotel has been remodelled as a contemporary boutique hotel, where possible, sections of the original stonework have been restored and left exposed while some fabrics have also been preserved in order to honour Lancashire's - and Holmes Mill's -  industrial heritage.




2. It has a beautiful bistro. 

Inside The Spinning Block Hotel, you'll find the most fabulous, Art Deco-inspired restaurant; Bistro 1823. At first, you'll be drawn to the charming flamingo wallpaper, beckoning you to pull up a pew in the cosy bar area and join the party. Then you'll spot the magnificent black grand piano, which separates the bar from the main dining area, and beautiful sounds of jazz will begin to bubble in your soul. You'll try and peak a look through the stained glass windows and will soon realise that the world looks a lot prettier in technicolour. Finally, you'll cast your eyes to the heavens, spotting the decadent glass chandeliers and gold-plated ceiling, and realise this is exactly where foodie dreams are made.

Whether you fancy a cocktail or a full-on 3-course meal, Bistro 1823 has got you covered. With low, lounging sofas and easy arm chairs in the bar area, I recommend you take your time working through the extensive bar menu before heading to the restaurant. All the best wines by the glass, a hand-picked selection of spirits, local beers on tap, and too many delicious cocktails to choose from, this bar was designed to make its guests feel as glamorous as its surroundings.

Moving on to the restaurant, you'll find a menu that packs sophisticated punches. Hearty steaks and seasonal seafood feature heavily but there's an refined elegance to each dish's execution. From lobster tortellini and 20oz steaks to market fish and artisan cheeses, your tastebuds will be in for a right Northern treat. With a simple philosophy focusing on sourcing the finest ingredients, Bistro 1823 knows exactly how to take flavour to the next level - and it's all on home ground.




3. It has a gourmet food hall. 

It seems you can fit quite a lot inside an old weaving shed these days, like an entire gourmet food hall. Named after the Forest of Bowland, an area of outstanding natural beauty near Clitheroe, The Bowland Food Hall is just as pretty as its namesake. With a shabby chic interior comprising of metal shelving units, shipping containers, exposed lighting and a truck filled with crates of fruit, it's so cool that it wouldn't feel out of place in East London.

Offering a unique platform for local independent retailers to sell their artisan wares, The Bowland Food Hall prides itself on knowing exactly where its produce comes from and bringing the finest fare to your plate. You won't find just any old food here; The Bowland Food Hall stocks only the best produce from the region (with a hand-picked selection of goods coming from further afield). It's a place where foodies alike can gather and salivate over the best ingredients, where people who wouldn't consider themselves foodies can be inspired by something other than what they find in their local Sainsbury's. Life's too short to eat boring food - and The Bowland Food Hall will never let you go hungry.



4. It has a cute café.

It's a well-known fact that coffee and cake make the world go round, and Holmes Mill's freshly baked offerings from the Food Hall Café will make your day just that little bit sweeter. Located in the old weaving shed inside the Bowland Food Hall, the Café is a vibrant, homely space that serves up a lovely selection of local delicacies, sandwiches and light lunches. So whether yours is a flying visit to the Café or you plan on spending all day here watching the world go by, you can enjoy the best of Lancashire and beyond, bite by bite.


5. It has its own brewery. 

In what used to be the boiler house, The Bowland Beer Hall has made its home. Serving a minimum of 24 cask ales at any one time as well as an expertly curated selection of bespoke keg beers, lagers, bottled beers, ciders and cans, this beer hall is far from your average beer hall; it's a beer utopia. What's more, it's home to the award-winning Bowland Brewery, whose nature-inspired cask ales are brewed right beneath the chimney at Holmes Mill. Having placed themselves firmly on the beer map, The Bowland Beer Hall is a great place to socialise and sample the ever-changing selection of beers. Home to one of the longest bars in Britain, there's enough room for everyone so get cosy in the Chimney Room or take refuge in the Engine Room, where you'll find Elizabeth, the hall's resident 108 year old cross-compound horizontal engine.

Although beer is predominantly what draws people to The Bowland Beer Hall, it's far from a one-hit wonder. It also serves a great selection of wines and spirits, as well as some hearty gastro-pub inspired grub. And to ensure a lively ambience, the beer hall regularly hosts live music sessions and comedy clubs so if you fancy visiting a charming space filled with good beer, good food and good laughs, The Bowland Beer Hall is the place for you. Ale you need is love.






What's your favourite converted building?




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