[SINGAPORE] ASANOYA BOULANGERIE

I must confess: I’m a breadaholic. My favourite home appliance is my bread machine, and preferred choice of breakfast is always flour-based.  So the pastry-maniac in me jumped for joy when I finally popped by Asanoya Bakery, and 81-year-old brand founded in Karuizawa Japan.

The place is absolutely haven for all dough-lovers out there! With the abundance of seats it could jolly well serve as a cafe. The boulangerie is ready for business as early as 8am, but their signature Karuizawa Matcha Green Tea Bread doesn’t appear till 10. If that happens, stay calm, take a seat and have their royal milk tea loaf in the meantime. Their mean selection of salads comes in petite Asian portions which are just right to go with your dough. To ogle at pastries and sweetbreads please continue to scroll…

I’m in love with these cubes, not to mention they are absolute darlings in the mouth.

Tiramisu in bread = more than I can bargain for!

                          

The royal milk tea loaf tasted like it was soaked and glazed in frothy tea, which, for a tea-lover like me, was killing two birds with a bite as I could eat and drink tea at the same time. The maple walnuts pretzel was slightly more savoury, though too crispy and hard in certain parts. I’m still looking forward to coming again, and trying every darn thing eventually!

  

Asanoya Boulangerie
15 Queen Street, #01-03, Singapore 188537
Tel: (65) 6703 8703

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 040: KOREAN SULBING 설빙

SULBING gets a new location in downtown Hongdae! 설빙, loosely translated into 雪冰, is the Korean traditional shaved ice dessert. What this cafe does better than most – instead of plain tasteless ice, the dessert is prepared with creamy, frozen milk flakes. Coupled with some piping hot coffee, what the menu offers is basically perfect for tea break in warmer seasons.

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The milk-and-red-bean shaved ice comes with almond and nuts shavings, sweet injeolmi (soft mochi cubes), red bean paste and loads of milk! It has become a strange routine of mine to have shaved ice for breakfast, since the weather in Seoul hasn’t yet begun to turn cold. Nothing beats a cold bowl of happiness to start the day!

At Sulbing you will be able to get the traditional injeolmi bingsoo as well as unconventional creations such as sweet potato, caramel coffee, blueberry red bean, blueberry and cheese, and mango cheese bingsoo. Cafes in Korea always make me feel spoilt for choices.

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The store is a 3minutes walk from Hapjeong Station (Subway Line 2 and Seoul Subway Line 6), across the road from Hongik Children’s Park. Totally convenient and easy to locate. Go forth and conquer!IMG_3517.JPG

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KOREAN SULBING 설빙

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 039: CAFE LEEMAN’S COLLECTION KITCHEN 리맨즈홍대점

An afternoon at Cafe Leeman’s Collection Kitchen in the Hongik University vicinity. Hongdae is by far my favourite spot for chilling whenever I’m needing space and anonymity without being physically solitary. In this part of town you could be surrounded by throngs of milling university students and still feel comfortably ignored. You know what I mean?

Anyhoo, Cafe Leeman’s is on Hongdae’s main busiest street. The cafe’s chirpy yellow-on-blue signage is both a touch of class and a breathe of fresh air from the overpopulation of low-budget, hipster-wannabes. I wasn’t hungry as yet, hence all I had was an earl grey milk iced-tea. Slow to serve as they had hit their peak 5pm rush-hour, I waited a full 15 minutes for my tea. Meantime I managed to get a few snapshots in. Thankfully, the artsy-fartsy people of Hongdae were just the right people for an over-enthusiastic Asian snap-a-holic (with a huge red camera) to blend in with. Am loving Leeman’s laid-back interior, it still manages to keep the Leeman’s brand a cut above mainstream indie coffeehouses. If you’re looking for good food, clean tables and a good cuppa, this is the place to be.

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Cafe Leeman’s Collection Kitchen 리맨즈홍대점

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 038: CAFE BELLA PRAHA

One truly amazing (albeit solitary) afternoon at Sinchon and Ewha Women’s University (Edae), I chanced upon Cafe Bella Praha, one of those down-to-earth coffee places tucked away in an alley off the beaten track like a well-hidden secret. Had my craving for ice-cold desserts satiated with a matcha green tea bingsoo topped with red bean paste, and was pleasantly surprised that the toppings thoughtfully came in a separate dish, so you could actually control how much to drown out your ice-matcha. Might I add, the matcha did not taste syrupy – it had that fragrant taste of fresh brewed matcha in an ice-cold bowl. You know how much I love matcha desserts? This one really exceeded my expectations!

Bella Praha only hires the best. The barista (or was he the boss?) was so soft-spoken, gentle and thoughtful. Seeing as I was alone, he personally took my order, at the table, and ensured I had a cup of water with sufficient napkins. Only in Seoul, baristas get my heart aflutter!

Well, expect only the best of coffees from Bella Praha. To the barista’s credit, I overheard his lengthy, patient explanation to an elderly couple on the difference between coffee beans from different regions of the world. To tip the scale, you get to choose the brewing method for your coffee: espresso, hand drip, cotton-flannel drip, syphon, or Dutch style. Plus, there’s no lack of pastry choices from the cafe’s hand-made selection. This place is so worth a second visit, just to feel like a princess in a sweet homely coffeehouse.

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벨라프라하
56-63 Daehyeon-dong Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
02-363-3559

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 037: SHOPPING AND CAFE CULTURE ON EWHA WOMEN’S UNIVERSITY STREET

Sinchon and Ewha Women’s University (also known as Edae) is a district bursting with youthful vigour. You will love this place if, like me, you have a thing for affordable vintage labels, understated hairpieces, independently designed jewellery, and in general quirky finds. That aside, if you’re looking for loud colourful accessories, branded and no-label patent leather bags, or even rock-chick and gothic outfits, there’s also a healthy range of specialty stores catering to very unique requests and needs!

Street stalls and independent shops open for business as early as 9:30am, while students from neighbouring universities begin their daily pilgrimage to their campus. Snacks and all kinds of knick knacks are sold from cubicle sized push-carts, mostly to tourists and youngsters bypassing on their way to school. With no lack of mani-pedi boutiques, salons, beauty clinics and pampering studios, I could spend a leisurely week living in this area if I had the luxury of time. There’s just so much to do and see! Contrary to popular belief, Ewha is not strictly a women-only zone – more than a handful shops do cater to fashion and retail for men.

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The famous Gigantic Pink Shoe outside Top Ten @ Ewha: tourists scramble to take photos with this
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Singapore Toast is gaining some fame: this place was jam-packed!
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I liked the fact that big brands are slotted in with independent labels and designer couture – a refreshing mix of high end with retail stores that doesn’t burn a hole in the pockets of poor university students (I know that life).

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You know you’re in a hippie place when cutesy stores sell everything and anything – hairclips, incense burners, furniture, desk organizers, placemats, braded rugs, coffee mugs, bookends, laptop covers and passport holders. All done while maintaining its cutesy demeanour.

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Cafe culture in Korea generally thrives in university districts – Hongdae and Edae are very prominent examples of coffee paradise. Edae’s collection of indie coffee houses feeds throngs of students needing their daily caffeine fix. On this day I happened to chance across Caffe Zudy, a large scale Westernized coffee house with a couple of franchises across Seoul. My iced latte was more bitter than any coffees I’ve had in Korea, meaning they used a darker roast and also zero syrup in their drinks. Pure coffee and milk. I think my tired body enjoyed the shot of caffeine. I liked it.

Caffe Zudy Ewha University

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No lack of cafes in the area: see what I mean?

Caffe Zudy 카페쥬디 이대본점

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 036: ROYAL MILKTEA ICE @ A TWOSOME PLACE 투썸플레이스

My kind of breakfast in Korea tends to swing towards unconventional. On this particular morning, I happened to be in a mood for an ice-cold treat. During the summer / fall season, Koreans love their patbingsu – shaved ice desserts with toppings such as chopped fruit and nuts, mint leaves, coffee or milk tea, condensed milk, fruit syrup, and red bean paste. A Twosome Place 투썸플레이스 offers the Royal Milk Tea Ice which is basically a mountain of ice in a fish-bowl, drenched in milk tea, condensed milk, and topped with cereal, granola bits, and a scoop of milk-tea ice cream. My fish-bowl sized happiness looks like this:

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To say I have a sweet-tooth is an understatement. I mean, who eats this for breakfast?! I spent my morning (before heading to work) with Jane Green’s old book (Bookends) and my icy companion.

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You’ve got to try this, everybody.

A TWOSOME PLACE | 투썸플레이스 @ D-CUBE CITY (SINDORIM)

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[MELBOURNE] oo6. 65. DEGREES CAFE

65 Degrees Cafe is a retail outlet for Gridlock Coffee specialty coffee roasters – masters of latte art and which offers a vast range of blends and single origin coffee beans. I wasn’t there for coffee, though, as I’ve only recently experienced some nasty side effects of caffeine overdose.

Winter in Melbourne has its way of chilling right to the bone, and a bowl of 65’s soup of the day with fresh baked bread and buttered toast warmed me right up. This place was actually recommended to me by an old Australian couple I spoke to on the flight to Melbourne, whose favourite pastime includes sipping cappucinos alfresco-style. I’m not entirely sure of what 65 is famous for. If you ask me, the interior’s not exactly pretty and the menu has nothing special at all. The spinach, potato and zucchini soup was great (a tad on the greasy side in my opinion), and its toast was crunchy with hints of asian spice. If you aren’t too particular, the food’s not too bad for a cosy sidewalk cafe in Melbourne’s busiest district. That aside, the cafe is run by a couple of Asian ladies with very ready smiles and quick nimble hands. Their hospitality was fantastic and I figured that is what makes 65 Degrees an incredible place.

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[MELBOURNE] oo5. THE LEAGUE OF HONEST COFFEE

Darned long walk in the cold but all’s good after a cuppa flat white from Melbourne’s very own The League of Honest Coffee. Waking up from a 3 hour nap straight off a flight from Singapore to Melbourne (during which there’s no rest at all), the caffeine hit was my fire-place in subzero winter. Australia has indeed amazing coffee brewers, as a Kiwi acquaintance once told me on a brief exchange of words onboard another flight. A warm mixed berries muffin later, I was convinced that League was way too underrated.

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Big enough for social gatherings, yet cosy and subtle in its choice of furnishing, League proved to be just as great a place for coffee runs, brunch or tea break, as well as collecting your personal thoughts if you ever should need a quiet space.

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We all know that orgasmic taste of moist, warm muffins…this one’s unbeatable! The mixed berries exploded on my tongue while the melt-in-your-mouth muffin dough was just the right level of softness. So. Good.

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Coffee is life, that’s all I’ve gotta say.

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The League of Honest Coffee
8 Exploration Ln
Melbourne VIC 3000

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[MELBOURNE] oo4. WINTER SNAPSHOTS

What’s great in Melbourne, besides taking photos with koala bears and trying not to get ass-kicked by kangaroos in their local zoos? . Just walk around the central business district and you’ll be surprised by all kinds of quirky finds. Hipster cafes, graffitied streets, an alley dedicated to pub-crawlers, giant chess pieces for challenging an opponent you’ve never met…the list goes on. Winter does not stop Melbourne from being still one of the best places to be.
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I have a confession to make: I’m into grocery shopping. Australia is my favourite place for stocking up big-time on coffee and cereals. Their supermarts boasts the craziest selection of bottled juices and smoothies (that effectively kills snacking urges, because it’s just too damn hard to say no to one of the world’s yummiest gummies (Starburst!) and chocolates (Haigh’s), both of which are classic buys when you’re in this part of the world. Unless of course, you’re a Special K Addict and your luggage is jam-packed with boxes of these stuff.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Paul & Lina’s Living Cafe | 폴엔리나 리빙까페

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Doubling as a furniture store, Paul & Lina’s is a place patrons do purchase chopping boards and pepper shakers with sweet potato lattes. The sign says it all: furniture, fabrics, coffee and desserts. Though small, this underrated cafe seems loaded with ornaments and homeware for sale. The owners are a homely couple with an elementary school son who was being tutored by his mom the evening I chanced upon the area (having walked from Sangsu Station).

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You know that feeling, when you walk into a place, instantly to feel a lot lighter and happier? This place gave me good vibes!

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Almost everything you see are saleable items! The cafe owners also have an online store where you can view these beautiful woodwork and home deco pieces.

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I would love to have that blue tea mug! Its too adorable ^^20140401-122155.jpg

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For such a large coffee diner, there isn’t much seating room – just 3 of these two-seater tables and a living room space with plush cushions and sofas for larger groups of people. Most customers came for beverages to-go and woodwork items. For an hour or so it was just me, and a guy on the laptop tapping away in the seats behind. With such privacy and seclusion I’m surprised so few are attracted to this place!

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날씨 추운지만: 아이스 유자차!
음료를 즐기면서, 난 책을 읽고 있어요.20140401-122256.jpgIced cold Yuja-Cha for the winter-like spring.

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Quietly set on a higher ground of a double-storeyed house, I hardly noticed Paul & Lina’s existence. This sign pointed me to the right side of the alley, a short walk up from Sangsu Station. Tucked away in such seclusion, I do hope it’s not just a cafe that furniture enthusiasts only would know of!!

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폴엔리나 리빙까페
413-18 Hapjeong-Dong Mapo-Gu, Seoul
주소:서울특별시 마포구 합정동 413-18
TEL:02-336-0933
Weekdays 주중 : am 11:00 ~ pm 11:00
Weekends 주말 : am 11:00 ~ pm 12:00


xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

P.S. I miss Hongdae so much!! I’m back home from a week of spring-time in Germany, but I would give anything to be walking on cherry blossoms in Jeju right now.

CAFE 5CI JUNG | 까페오시정

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Post-lunch coffee at Cafe 5Ci Jung is akin to spending the afternoon at a friendly neighbour’s home. A very warm welcome awaits you the moment you step through its doors, right up till you leave its premises. Each barista made an effort to greet every guest, and never seemed to stop smiling. I was further impressed when the lady boss bothered to ask me what my coffee preferences were, before she took my orders at the counter.

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I especially loved their cutesy deco pieces! !The homely warmth makes me want to sink into their cosy chairs, all day long. Its interior is unbelievably spick and span – I swear there’s literally not a speck of dust in sight.

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I believe a whole lot of thought went into choosing these trinkets and ornaments which fits like pieces of a puzzle in the entire cafe’s concept – a romantic, playful and vibrant home environment.

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I also felt as if I were back in elementary school…or perhaps I’ve found my way into a life-sized doll house! Miniature flowerpots, rainbow-coloured paintings, fresh white walls and smooth cherrywood furniture – it’s a really refreshing place to load up on caffeine and food or simply to recharge yourself!

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Buttery and crisp homemade scones are served on the house with any beverage orders, completely free-of-charge. My usual afternoon cafe latte arrived with an entourage: scone and Mr Lego-Man.

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These homemade scones were simply heavenly, along with butter and apple custard sauce. Only in 5Ci Jung you get hospitality like this. Thoughtful table placemats, and an accompanying gift of a mini Lego is what made me fall in love with this whole presentation.

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With franchises in Samcheongdong and Garosu-gil, the novelty of Cafe 5Ci Jung is worth experiencing for yourself. I can’t express how much I wish I could be back at this cafe right now! Yes, it feels as intimate as my living room.

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CAFE 5CI JUNG @ Samcheongdong| 까페오시정
Palpandong 57, Samcheongdong, Jongno-gu

종로구 팔판동 57Samcheongdong
02-730-2008
Monday & Sunday: 13:00 – 22:30
Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 – 23:30

CAFE 5CI JUNG @ GAROSUGIL | 까페오시정
525-11 Sinsa-dong
Gangnam-gu Seoul South Korea

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Passion Tree Cafe, Brisbane

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It’s 36°C in Brisbane & I’m mad happy to find a cafè with shaved ice, desserts and cold cold coffee! Incredibly spacious with comfy throw pillows along wall benches, the cafè is popular amongst local Koreans and Asians. We found the place on a warm Tuesday afternoon, drawn to the sweet aroma of macarons.

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Their mad selection of pastries were snatched up the moment they hit the shelves. A lady in front of me in the queue bought 17.

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What’s more famous is their 팥빙수 (patbingsu), or shaven ice, a very popular dessert in Korea! It’s a rare dish in Australia and Passion Tree is one of the only cafès offering this yummy dessert!

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I ordered an iced latte and we shared this huge Green Tea 팥빙수 — green tea flavoured shaven ice lavishly topped with almonds, macadamias, honey corn flakes, red bean paste and a huge dollop of green tea ice cream! And when I say huge, I mean it. The glass bowl is about the size of a regular fish tank.

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Passion Tree’s 팥빙수 is as close to the originals I’ve had in Seoul, so I must say it’s really darn good. The dessert was basically what we had for lunch besides the meal we had onboard during the flight. It was really filling so I’d suggest sharing it. I’d definitely come back to try their tiramisu and other patbingsu flavours (mango, passion fruit etc!) The cafe’s not that hard to locate once you’re within the Brisbane CBD area, it’s flanked by Queen Street and Albert Street, right next to Myer Centre. Dine away!

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Passion Tree, Natural Sweet Cafe
Elizabeth St,
Brisbane QLD 4000, Australia
+61 7 3012 8865

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

ReStore – Vintage Cafè SG

Don’t be fooled by this cafe’s ‘furniture warehouse’ exterior! This well-hidden jem of an indie cafè in Singapore’s Tanjong Pagar Road is vintage-themed and oozing with old-school charm. Its pre-loved cafeteria/kopitiam chairs are even for sale!

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We were glad to realise that all lattes, including its mocha, caramel and cinnamon specialties, come with a choice of iced, hot or with ice-cream. The sparingly good selection of waffles, cakes, sandwiches and ice cream were also satisfactory.

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We ordered a Caffe Cinnamon and a Caffe Caramel, both with ice-cream, and shared a dark chocolate tart. To our disappointment however, the ice-cream was melted when it came so it was all blended into the hot coffee (was surprised that the waiter who took our orders didn’t ask us to specify hot or cold lattes). The dark chocolate tart was also soft in the crust, as if it has been left outside for hours before being served.

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Thankfully the ambience was its saving grace, plus the bonus fact that it closes at a considerably late hour of 11pm (could be later though!). Definitely hope the food and coffee could be improved, because I really love its location and selection of books on its shelves…

Restore Living
124 Tanjong Pagar Rd, 088533
Tel: 222 3510

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Patisserie Valerie

Tucked away in the streets of Notthing Hill is a Patisserie Valerie –
great wifi connectivity, comfy sofas, and mad awesome latte with cake!
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As it is now late-summer, London is all overcast skies and occasional light drizzles, which is perfect for a hot cuppa.
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Nothing makes me gladder than to see a spacious cafè with an inviting storefront.
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Also, loved how deep the cafè went despite the small shopfront, so there’s actually loads of privacy.
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On the Patisserie menu:
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Mille Feuille, Chocolate Florentine, Macarons…and a heavenly selection of pastries!
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My piping hot cuppa regular latte
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& this mad amazing strawberry gateau to go with!
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Due to jetlag I was up pretty early and was one of their first dine-in customers of the day. Plus I was trolling Notting Hill for Waterstones, Daunt Books and Book Warehouse!! Walking meant that I needed caffeine.
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Felt as though I was very much spying on somebody!! *cues 007 music*
Sorry ol’ mate!
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Not only do they have pastries, cookies and a myriad of cakes, their all-day breakfast/brunch and specialty sandwiches menu is also to-die-for.

Between devouring my cake and sipping on latte, WiFi and Patisserie Valerie’s in-store selection of magazines kept me occupied for a good 2 hours. Had this prolonged bubbly seventh-heaven satisfaction that I always feel after a pleasant cafè experience.

94 Holland Park Avenue
London W11 3RB

London Lovin’: 3 Cafès to try along Oxford Circus

Of many the indie and chain coffee joints along Oxford Circus,
I’ve made a list of 3 cafès I have to try when I’m back
(because seriously, I want to but can’t be downing too much caffeine)

JOE & THE JUICE
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281 Regent Street
London W1B 2HE
Neighbourhoods: Fitzrovia, Marylebone

CAFÈ ROUGE
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11 Little Clarendon St
Oxford
OX1 2HP

MUSTARD CAFÈ
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40 Margaret Street, Marylebone
London, W1G 0JH

London Lovin’: Wild & Coffee Company

Sniffing out the best brews on my London cafè-hunt, I stumbled upon Wild & Coffee Company along Oxford Street.  photo DSCN3977_zps2785a179.jpg

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Dying for a mid-day coffee fix, I was so glad to see that it’s been labelled ‘London’s best coffee’.
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Though small and subtle, the interior decor is amazingly cosy. A really awesome place to sit and read while sharing a bench-table with strangers.

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Every cup of coffee is freshly brewed by the baristas! (whom I couldn’t figure out were Spanish or Italian)
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After a short wait, I was served my coffee.
I almost shed tears of joy while gulping down this piping hot latte.
It was so good, I can’t begin to describe how good it is. I have no words.
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I loved their latte!!
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There’s a separate corner for more people to fill in, but it’s pretty dark and private. The room was so quiet I felt intrusive so I asked the barista for permission to snap these!
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Wild and Wood Coffee is mad famous for their cronuts and they’ve won a number of awards for both their coffee and cronuts, apparently.
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So, are they worthy of being in the running for ‘London’s best coffee’?
HELL YES!
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Before I left, the barista asked if I’d be here the next day and I said, sadly no.
Firstly I can’t remember the way.
Secondly I will be sniffing out cafès along Notting Hill in the ‘moro!

One New Oxford St.,
Greater London WC1A 1BA