Category Archives: Yum Yumzz Reviewed:

Café de la Concha – San Sebastián, Spain

I was pleasantly caught off guard by the beach in San Sebastián. The nearby surf culture added a fun twist to the scene. With the combination of Euro-city life and gastronomic magic, the beach-vibes were just icing on the cake. Four and a half days in Basque Country meant Robin and I were adventurers by day and lushy-foodies by night. Soon enough, we familiarized ourselves with the coast line and Café de la Concha made the “must do list”. They stole our hearts with their white façade and blindingly red flower boxes. Plus who doesn’t love eating in a café with a view?

Much like every other bar in San Sebastián , you walk in and you’re tempted by all of the delicious pintxos sitting on the counter. As an American it’s a hard to wrap your mind around the concept of pintxos. The fact that there’s food sitting on a counter for undetermined periods of time can raise some eyebrows. It’s natural to be curious about health and safety and whether or not they can actually stay fresh. The science behind the demand and supply must be genius as they seem to move pretty fast. Café de la Concha is a pristine little eating venue with pintxos to match. They were visually uncomplicated and cheerful just like the restaurant.

It was early in the morning and egg based pintxos made it feel like we were actually having a proper brunch. We sat outside on the terrace (of course). I couldn’t get over the amazing view! There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and I was really enjoying this until the worst thing happened. Sunscreen began to leave my face and started to seep right into my eyes. They were burning for a good forty five minutes and I couldn’t see a thing. I ventured to the bathroom twice in attempt to flush them out. #byebyemakeup #saddestpintxoeaterever

Nonetheless, I powered through my pain. I’m still convinced the two of us would have gone home morbidly obese if we hadn’t shared all of that “pintx-ing”. After the burning stopped, we ordered a couple of O.J.’s and dug in.

The pintxo on the left had a crab salad on baguette topped with a very fresh shrimp. The pintxo to the right had layered anchovy topped with a deviled egg (yolk whipped with mayonnaise) and last skewered with another shrimp and olive. Of course the O.J. was freshly squeezed… Would you expect any less?

Fresh O.J. + Pintxos + Sunny times on the beach would make anyone jump for joy.

Did I mention how great the view was?

The rest of the afternoon would entail a lot of this.

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AKELARE (Bekarki Menu) – by Chef Pedro Subijana – San Sebastián, Spain


San Sebastián is no stranger to Michelin stars and fine dining. It’s home to some of the top restaurants in the world. One might find it easier to pace themselves financially by living off pintxos for the majority of their travels in order to save their wallet for the big ticket items. It’s so important to experience these sought after restaurants as the highlight of a well rounded trip to San Sebastián. Unless of course you are a baller, than ball away! One could have Michelin dining for breakfast lunch and dinner! (Sadly, their insides may begin to hurt.)

Akelare (which I’ve seen spelled two ways) was awarded three stars for a reason. The minimalist and drab interior décor is clearly not one of them. The sign might have been the best thing about the branding, yet such bold font would have warranted a bolder interior (I’d think). In its defense, I only experienced the restaurant after sundown. I imagine the bay would have a huge affect on the interior with a glorious panoramic view. Drab décor may have its own purpose anyhow…It could help one really concentrate on the task at hand (EATING).

What happens at Akelare?

As it turned out, this would be one of the many times that my friend Robin would be celebrating the 9th anniversary of her 21st year. I was happy to celebrate her as many times as it would take, if it meant consuming free alcohol and food. This particular observation of her birth would be preceded by a trifold menu offering three different combinations of set menus to choose from. It was a challenge because much like anything else in life, going with one meant having dish-envy for giving up the other. I decided on the “Bekarki”.

Granted, this adventure is coming up on its one year anniversary now, I am going to tell you about my stories anyway. It all started out with amazing bread.

Then truffle-like savory bits arrived on creatively shaped plates. One of the amuse bouche “experiences” was a bite that closely resembled an olive. It was actually a savory anchovy cream encased in olive jelly. This was the second “olive” I’d been duped by in Spain. The first time was in Barcelona Albert Adria’s restaurant Bodega 1900.

Let’s Get Down To Business:

It was nearly impossible to capture every single wine we had properly. I felt a bit shy taking a lot of photos in this serious environment. Soverribas was one of the first wines paired by our sommelier. This white wine from Galicia, is one of seven low production Albariños. They are produced with grapes from 35 year old vines which are fermented with their own yeast in French Oak vats. The wine has been described as “Atlantic sea influenced” which is way too fancy for me. I will get on board with the aniseed notes and salty finish. I felt pretty special to be enjoying one of the 1,294 bottles produced.

(Pictured Above: Prawns and Green Beans cooked in “Orujo” Flame)

Akelare did a really nice job at incorporating loads of Spanish ingredients that made this meal delicious and educational. This course was prepared using a local pomace brandy made from the distillation of grape residue left after the initial press. While it was incredibly exotic to me, it did not travel very far to make it on to our plate that evening. These shrimps were lit on fire in the middle of the dining room. A little bit of hibachi action added to the atmosphere and produced translucent prawns that were succulent with hints of smokiness from the flame.

(Pictured Above: White Beans and Roasted Pipparas, not Conventional at all)

I love that the menu mentions this plate is “not conventional at all”. The piparras are traditional peppers of the Basque region that tend to be a yellowish-green color with an elongated shape. The flavor is on the mildly-spicy side with a hint of sweetness and is often found on the famous “Gilda” pintxo. Here it was, in all its glory, roasted and served with white beans to add to the loooooooooooooong-list of vegetation consumed in San Sebastián. (sarcasm)

(Pictured Above: Soufleed Kokotxa, White Garlic Pil-Pil)

Holy rice crackers! Finally a little more excitement made its way to the table. Stacked and piled high, was a plate full of souffléed kokotxa and white garlic Pil-Pil. I could barely see Robin! After the flattened pepper it was nice to see a plate with dimension across the board!


(Pictured Above: Hake in seaweed steam. Plancton and oyster leaf)

I could tell before I took a bite of this hake that it was special. The flesh had a dewy glow and the seaweed steam only enhanced the flavor. The plankton pearls brought me right back to the fourth grade when I’d buy Dippin’ Dots at Great Adventure theme park. On a serious note, our wine was thoughtfully paired with this course in particular. Sometimes there is an appropriate collision on the tongue and it’s true magic.

In the midst of all this culinary-bliss, I couldn’t help but glance out the window. I was caught off guard by two itty-bitty flickering lights reflecting off the water’s surface. It turned out, that the very fish on my plate had been caught on that boat. Talk about “sea to table” cuisine!

(Pictured Above: Squid as a Risotto)

Naturally one would assume this was actually risotto. It takes some serious skills to take squid and cut it down to the exact shape of a grain with the same exact consistency. The fact that it was black probably made it more believable, as if it had absorbed the color of the sauce. It possessed a slight chewiness and got stuck in your molars the same way rice would. I was thoroughly impressed by the texture!

(Pictured Above: Butter Flower to accompany the Squid Risotto)

The rose-shaped butter was presented as an accompaniment to our “risotto”. It arrived on a side plate and we were instructed to mix it into the squid. I found the detailing of this butter-flower most intriguing because it looked like it was hand painted up close. The petals were very dainty and the flower made for a presentation that was playful and twee!

(Pictured Above: Schiste)

For this next course, our wine brought us to France from the Domaine des Ardoisieres on the Swiss border. The Schiste 2014 is an organic white wine with delicate fruity and floral notes with a subtle minerality to the finish. I always find that organic white wines seem to have a slight effervescence to them.


(Pictured Above: Grilled Iberic “Presa” with pepper seeds and garlic in three different versions)

The plate was dressed with red pepper juice and roasted pork slices were elegantly fanned over a leaf. This would be another meal lacking in any vegetation but packed full of intense flavors. Soon we’d be calling for a toothbrush with neighboring garlic bits prepared different ways. The most unique piece was coated with charcoal dust and had the concentrated flavor of an entire clove in one bite. (I tried to get a little taste of everything in each forkful and washed it down with the perfect sip of wine in efforts to savor this very special moment.)

(Pictured Above: OLIVARES)

Finally it was time for our dessert wine! It was nice to see a red wine arrive with a hypnotizing cherry color. For saying it is not aged in any wooden barrels, it possessed a lot of body with hints of figs and ripe fruits.

(Pictured Above: The Melting Cupcake)

The cake was made with yogurt foam, filled with coffee and chestnut as well as some grapefruit. I was underwhelmed. I think I hoped it would resemble an actual cupcake.

Last but not least, the dessert you will see all over the interwebs…The Akelare-branded wrapper over the Napoleon-like mass. It was all edible (of course) and in spite of it looking like plastic it tasted very much like apple! The pastry was tucked away underneath this shiny blanket and filled with an apple flavored custard. Do do do do do…

(Pictured Above: We got to serenade Robin at Akelare too.) This wasn’t about to get old. All of San Sebastian was going to know that Robin was now 30 years old if we could help it.

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What Jenzie Is Groovin’ To:

R.I.P. Chris Cornell


Hotel Sanderson London – Mad Hatter’s Tipsy Evening Tea – SOHO – London, England

Wait wait wait… LET’S BACK IT UP. I can’t go to Barcelona without discussing tea. It’s a must when visiting Blighty. Since it was Lyndsay’s first time in London, I wanted to make sure that she had an introduction to the art of afternoon tea. She had a few suggestions including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea at One Aldwych and the Brasserie’s tea at Sketch. The only issue was her flight and timing. I researched alternative teas and came across the Mad Hatter’s at the Sanderson Hotel.

It seemed like it could be as fun as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… Why not?! I figured it’s tea, it incorporates cocktails and sounds like a cartoon, right?

The Experience:

We were running late due to our flood. Thankfully Shoreditch House was helpful with pushing our reservation back (after some suggestion) and The Sanderson was accomodating. It turns out that boozey-tea isn’t in crazy-demand on a Sunday night. Upon arrival we were greeted by two jovial door men having a good chuckle at us American girls with eyes glued to our Google maps. They guessed we were there for there for the boozier-version of tea and directed us to concierge to check in our rain coats.

We were seated in a quiet corner of the courtyard with menus featured inside the pages of what appeared to be really old books. Within moments we were nose deep in scintillating literature describing the magical journey of treats ahead.

Tipsy Tea:

(Pictured Above: Rose and Cucumber G&T, Pomegranate and Basil G&T, Juniper Cosmo and a Lychee Martini). Tipsy tea is EXTRA special because they present a miniature flight of cocktails which are an adventure alone. All mini-sips are Alice in Wonderland themed (bien sur) with a variety of liquors including gin and vodka blended with various infusions and fruit flavors. ALL are guaranteed to give you a TRIP into “Wonderland”.

My only complaint: Each miniature cocktail was mixed with an even more miniature shot of alcohol! In all honesty, the bartender could have omitted it entirely and I might not have noticed. If I was wondering about anything it was “Where did the alcohol go?”

We caught the Sanderson on a quiet night. All you could hear were the whispers of the few neighboring tables and the water fountain trickling in the center. I imagine it would be an entirely different environment on a mid-summer’s afternoon. With a jet lagged Lyndsay, a calmer evening was ideal.

The Food:

Our tea stand included an impressive assortment of savoury snacks: Scottish smoked salmon, miniature Wiltshire ham and applewood croque- monsieurs, Cornish crab and herb éclairs, along with miniature caviar scotch eggs. (While Lyndsay was not a fan, these were my favorite!) We moved on to cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches on lime bread and other (less sweet) things. Of course the bottom layer of our tier had tasty scones with cumin seeds and Wensleydale cheddar with an herb butter. Yum!

Some Favorite Treats Featured Below:


(The White Rabbit’s Pocket Watch Macaron)


(Banana & Rum Bread with Butterfly)

(A Red Velvet Vodka Lady bug)

(Chelsea Chili Cornbread with a Flower Box)

(Last But Not Least – Alice’s naughty Pimms infused “drink-me” potion.)

We had a lot of food to tackle and a fun hotel to explore, which was exactly what we did.

I have an affinity for hanging chairs and made sure to get a photo in my all-time favorite dream chair.

We sat at the big white bar before leaving, as cocktails can’t be missed here. Philippe Starck would be sad.

While I don’t think I’ll be back to The Sanderson anytime soon, I thought Tipsy Tea was an adorable experience for cousins! The cocktails and atmosphere add a unique spin on the tradition and the boutique hotel provided curious environments for guests to enjoy.

Miraculously Lyndsay was able to sit upright on a bar stool long enough to take this photo! We gave her some more tea and encouragement…Soon everything was status-quo. There were still a couple stops to be made and she was fading. Overall this was a successful intro to her first stay in Blighty.

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What Jenzie Is Groovin’ To:

Jenzie’s Friends Up to Cool Things:

Watch Kayla make her slammin’ stuffed mushrooms!

Shoreditch House – Shoreditch – London, England

Oh the places you’ll go! After a rock-star night, I woke up in Chelsea near the footballer-grounds in Stamford Bridge. Safe to say I was in dire need of water and a lie-in. Today was going to be an exciting day since cousin Lyndsay was landing in London. Her trip out made me realize how fast someone can get through customs if it’s preventing you from sleeping in. After 100 text messages of instructing her on how to train to center city, I was relieved to collect her at the station so we could begin our adventures in Blighty.

After layovers in three countries she appeared to be deceivingly refreshed…Ah to be 24 again!

Last time we traveled in Europe together I was basically her age. Pictured Above: Cousin Lyndsay and I looking amused at the breakfast table in Venice, Italy (2007). A decade later…

We collected my things and ubered off to what would be home for the next two days. We were staying in Shoreditch by Lyndsay’s request! What better place to experience Shoreditch than at the Shoreditch house?

Our Stay:

I thought we were staying at Ebor St. when I booked. On arrival it turned out that the main house was full. They sent us (walking with our large cases) to Club Row. This meant we had a city block or two (walking back) to get our hangout on at “The House”. It also meant newly refurbished rooms and a quieter stay. #nottooshabby #okayfine

My initial impression-The room was super crisp. The tiny room was no understatement, as our bed was basically touching all four walls (almost). They like to leave their vintage radios turned on just so you hear static noise out of the corner. (It can’t play a single station clearly.) This requires a hobble around the bed to turn it off. The radio’s vintage appearance reminds you that this radio is very cool. You are very cool because you are in this room. This room is so cool because it’s in Shoreditch house. Enough said.

Our room was equipped with all the bells and whistles including the Cowshed Spa products. (ALL of THEM).

The bathroom was my favorite room until we decided to take showers. We soon realized the door was not properly sealed. ALL-THE-WATER decided to spill out from the stall into the room, hence dampening ALL-THE-THINGS. That was fun to deal with on a tight schedule (shed-juhl).

Before that fiasco we sat for Sunday Roast at “The House”. The goal was to get out of there in 90 minutes or less, but they forgot about us entirely. After staring down the wait staff that was loitering in front of the kitchen line, we became the most hydrated guests in the dining area with extra beverages to make up for the horrid wait.

After an hour these croquettes finally made it to the table. Pictured Above: Salted Cod Croquettes with crushed peas and mint. The croquettes weren’t hot, the cod hardly salted and peas not crushed…I struggled to find mint? (I would take anything to taste something.) This put me in a sad place. I really wanted to leave but I had a starving Lyndsay. She was a tad weary from her travels that needed nourishment!

Sad to report the food was sub-par. If we weren’t on such a time crunch I had originally aimed to do a proper pub-roast.

My 21-day-aged West Country Sirloin of beef was seriously rubber. The Yorkshire pudding was hard as a rock.

I decided to stick to veggies as I was having major roast-remorse.

How does one remedy this? We did what anyone would do and decided drinks were the way forward. With an attempt to enjoy pool-life, we set out to the roof and ordered two frozés. We didn’t actually want frozé, (who does?) but it was scary to think how long it might take to flag down a server and order a drink that would require any preparation. At that rate we could be there until sundown.

It wasn’t the most ideal pool weather with overcast skies.

I was determined to get into that pool anyway.

Eventually it was time to dry off, change and set out to discover the new and improved Shoreditch. Last I was there it was still grungy and mildly unsafe. It “fancies itself” on being quite the edgy and artsy area of London with that “hipster” vibe we all know and love! Basically it’s the Williamsburg of NYC. We took some interesting photos of the area. Check them out below:

A secret view from a secret window.

We came home that night to find we were upgraded to a not-so-tiny room for all of our troubles. Thankfully they made this seamless by putting all of our belongings back exactly where we left them (just in the new room). It even came equipped with another static playing radio!

At least now the bathroom was “super-sized”.

My experience at Shoreditch house was a bit “soggy” to say the least. I’ve had better experiences at their other locations. The staff was on point the next morning though… They remembered my wake up call and even had a breakfast take-away baggy prepped for my departure at 5:00am. Leaving little Lyndsay behind to play in London, I was now Barcelona-bound with fresh berries and granola in hand. Yum!

<3 Jenzie xoxo

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Still Great Advice…You don’t wanna end up like one of those awful looking people pumped up with Botox:

Just Because:

Trailer Happiness – Notting Hill – London, England

img_2304Two days in London and I had been eating like a champ. This marathon eating came with the inevitable dread of a distended abdomen. Some activity was in order (or shall we say sports) and I was lucky to have the support to make it happen. My friend and I decided to take a walk around SOHO on day-two in hopes of finding a one-day- gym-pass for Jenzie. It turns out that gyms don’t really allow “this sort of thing”. In order to get a gym pass (easily) you have to go to the Easy-gym. Well of course, duh! Why didn’t I think of that? #sarcasm #soobvious #sobritish

We found other things a lot easier that morning.

We found a little of this and a little of that too.


After having a lengthy lunch at the Capital I knew that it would be a challenge to commit to an early evening yoga. However, if one wants to play one must work for it! I was excited to try a class at Triyoga located in Kingly Court, SOHO.


The weather was so nice that evening as we approached the studio. I got up to the second level entrance and turned around to take in the buzzing view. Something about this Kingly Court made me happy…So did the class! I burned off enough calories for the mischief I was about to get into that evening. We had an excellent series of postures and contrary to NYC studios, they weren’t overly crowded. For the 40 quid of unlimited classes you get at Triyoga as an introductory offer, it’s definitely worth it. The staff was friendly and helpful, they provide clean studios and trendy yogi-apparatus to meet all of your possible needs.


After a class and a quick shower, I had just enough time to grab my cases in SOHO. It was moving-day and time to order up an uber to my hotel. While trying to make moves as fast as I could, I was a tad late to Trailer Happiness for a night cap with my friend Indira and her clan. One intended nightcap turned into an amazing night of dancing and laughs. It had been a whole three years since we last saw each other and dined at Estela in 2013!


Fast forward three years and not much has changed here! (except my hair)


This year my London travels brought me back to Notting Hill quite a bit. It’s been ages since I had reasons to go to that area. I do remember being quite fond of the Portobello market in my university days as it was so good for Christmas shopping! While trying to keep things simple and seeing friends the priority, I was excited they had a bar recommendation in mind and was happy to go with the flow. When I finally arrived, what seemed like a normal every day lounge on street-level turned out to be an underground night at the Brady Bunch house with flaming tiki-cocktails and the best old school rap and r&b I’ve heard in ages! (Think: Brady Bunch home having a fallout shelter party.)


Enthusiastic bartenders put on quite the show! There’s even a permanent flame mark on the ceiling from setting cocktails on fire.


Those beats tho…

As in true London-form, no successful night out ends without a kebab on Edgeware road. I still can’t bring myself to eat meat that is shaved off a rotating rod, but I can kill me some felafel with spicy sauce! That’s exactly what I did @ Cafe Helen.


Eating kebabs under some really colorful fluorescent lighting…This night was another night for the books!

<3 Jenzie xoxo

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Jenzie Grooves:

Just Because:

OUTLAW’S Restaurant at The Capital – Knightsbridge – London, England

Iimg_2304 am happy to blog about my experiences in London as it was the first leg of the “Jenzie’s Euro-extravaganza 2016”. What a great weekend of foodie-fun, old faces and new areas explored! Sadly last year’s London-eats were not reported and I let my faithful readers down. By the time I reached Blighty my excitement had been waning due a stressful sequence of events. Eventually the memories of my meals were deleted due to travelin’ drama-trauma.

Four years ago (and many lives) I was introduced to my foodie-friend Elliot at Launceston Place.


The following year he was so kind as to liaise with the wonderful chef Tim Allen to organize my very first stage in that very kitchen. This was a truly memorable experience!

Since then we were lucky to convene for a “chat and chew” at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant MAZE in 2014 and once again at Angler in 2015 (which I failed in my duties to report). Le sigh* I was impressed once again this year with a phenomenal lunch at Outlaw’s restaurant at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge, London.


Since our initial foodie meetup in 2014, I’ve become much more blonde.

What Happened:


As soon as I greeted Ello(zie), he brought my attention to the fact we had the best seats in the house. If you sit in the far end of the dining room facing towards the entrance, there is a small window (to your right) which gives a tiny glimpse into all the magic happening in Outlaw’s kitchen. It’s a quiet dining room with a simple yet elegant décor clearly influenced by aquatic life in the most understated way. I happen to be a huge fan of seahorses, so I was excited to see a large picture of one at each side of the room.


Here we were, seated for a midday lunch on a Saturday. A matcha-chai  from timber yard was enough to send Jenzie off the deep-end that morning. I had to make Elliot aware of my fragile state and was grateful we had Bellinis on the way. It was barely 36 hours since I’d landed and I was elated when the crostini turned up with a delightful spread made of cod’s roe. I hoped a little drink and a little nosh would sort me out.


Two delicious types of rolls were served including Cornish cheddar and Cornish (?) Doom Bar beer. The Cornish cheddar was by far my favorite. (Was it Cornish though?) I actually ate two. #naughty #IheartCarbs4eva


OUTLAW’S offers a set menu for 32 pounds per person. This includes three courses and a Bellini. It would have been great value for a hypothetical $64.00 when the pound was still worth something. I’ll take it for a comfortable $39.00! #BrexitExchangeWin


(Pictured Above: Cornish Fish Soup with Red Peppers and Paprika) This soup happens to be prepared with “pap-rick-a” not “pap-pa-reeka” in case there was any confusion. I struggled to taste or see anything that resembled a sea creature in my soup. It was puréed into a very smooth and velvety consistency. The red peppers and paprika added a pleasant reddish hue to the presentation and a muted spice with a light acidity on the tongue. I really wanted some salt.


After the Bellinis had disappeared, Elliot took the liberty of ordering wine. He went with a lovely Sauvignon Blanc that complimented our fishy-fare very well. David Levin (owner of The Capital Hotel) started growing grapes in the Loire Valley in 1985 in efforts to provide quality wine for his luxury hotels and restaurants. They pride themselves on producing a world-class sauv-blanc that also happens to be organic. I felt privileged to be sipping this wine and appreciate its story.


(Pictured Above: Lamb Scrumpet with pickled chicory, anchovy and coriander.) This is a piece of lamb shoulder which is slowly cooked and fried. It was a much heartier starter than my selection and much better value for the set menu price. This dish gave way more of a “bang for the buck” so to speak. Thanks to Elliot, I was able to see another one of the delicately presented starters…This was the correct one to order.


I couldn’t help but feel like I might have let him down by ordering the soup.

The Mains:


My eyes were instantly drawn to the plaice. (Pictured Above: Plaice served with warm tartare sauce and baby gem lettuce.) The adjectives warm and creamy were speaking to my soul. This light and flaky filet was delicately placed in a pool of creamy-goodness and garnished with a fish stick that brought me right back to childhood.


Elliot also enjoyed a sea creature option as opposed to the Beef Rump on offer. (Pictured Above: Hake with curry sauce, cabbage and shallots.) This brought up a very funny conversation about an allergy I swore I had to Hake. As it turns out it’s Skate that makes me ill! A quick search on the “goog-lay” is enough to make me understand why. Skate fish look like miniature stingrays. Any time I see the fanned out grain of their fleshy bits I steer clear!


After we cleaned our plates (and we did) a sudden anxiety ensued about the meal ending. I was still really hungry. #haha


I knew I was in good company when Elliot wanted a mixed cheese plate in addition to a dessert. Out came a selection of British cheeses with tomato and pepper chutney. Jenzie never turns down a cheese plate. #nevagiveup


I chose the Passion Fruit Ice Cream Sandwich served with coconut sorbet for dessert…Who doesn’t love passion fruit?


Elliot selected the Plum & Almond sponge cake with almond cream & lemon crème fraiche. I was happy this was a midday lunch…I didn’t require a breakfast or a dinner and I was about to roll out the door.


The honeycomb chunks were intriguing. They made the perfect snack as we sat and created a plan for Jenzie’s adventures ahead.


A picture that started off with the resemblance of Hangman would soon turn into the most detailed pinxtos tour of San Sebastian! #epic


Sadly we had to take Elliot’s artwork on-the-go due to a time constraint. We couldn’t leave without a complimentary shot of Harvey’s sherry first. It’s part of the full experience here at The Capital!


Elliot’s dedication to his map proved incredibly useful.


Alas, through tube rides and rain he finally completed it.


It was time to take a selfie!

<3 Jenzie xoxo

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Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to:

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Jenzie Grooves:

Just Because Seahorses Rule:

Nightjar – Hoxton – London, England

img_2304Nightjar was recommended through a trustworthy source at Jamie Oliver’s FIFTEEN. (Thank you!) By the time we were on our way, I had officially turned into one of these nocturnal birdies. They were the clever inspiration for the name of this speakeasy located “on the fringes of Shoreditch”. With lofty ideas of going clubbing and a walk through “the fringes”, we successfully stumbled upon a guarded door which led down a really dark staircase and finally led us into the magical art-deco-cocktail-underworld. Sound familiar?



During my last few trips to London I intended to find some of the city’s speakeasies. I wasn’t very successful as I usually start out with a loose itinerary and let the rest fill itself in. This search lies low on the list of priorities when I get my fill in NYC. Plus the genre is a bit “has been”…Where can we go from here? Long gone are the days of Milk and Honey and the reign of our dearly missed Sasha Petraske.


(Pictured Above: The necessary mysterious signage subtly posted for only the super observant to see.)

I wrote my college thesis on the speakeasy trend and applied a marketing analysis where I dissected the success in the hospitality scene. Twenty some years later the movement is still going strong, and globally at that. They’re perfect places for jokers coming out of a full meal that believe they “can hang” but not really enough for a club. This usually allows for some aggressive seated chair-dancing into the wee-hours of the morning. Chair dancing is so fun to LIVE jazz music! (Lots on here.)

Nightjar‘s cocktails fall under five categories: Pre-Prohibition, Prohibition, Post-War, Night Jar Signatures and Sharing. One sounded more tempting than the next and watching the artistic presentation of these fascinating drinks was no help. The bartenders were almost entranced in their own world as they spun, shook, tossed, stirred and whisked all kinds of magic potions behind the bar…I wanted them all! Sadly even Jenzie has her own physical limitations to adhere to.

Picking our way through a list of ENDLESS exotic ingredients prompted all kinds of questions. Our mind was made up by the giant smoking bird.


What is in the giant smoking bird? The stuff that dreams are made of! (Of course)


YORKSHIRE PUNCH: Gin Mare, Apple & Rhubarb, Absinthe, St. Germain, Berry liqueurs, Lemon, Yorkshire Tea, Honey and Ginger. After the fanfare of the dry ice wore off, we were stuck with a giant pitcher and tin mugs filled with an array of interesting garnishes. There was a Yorkshire tea bag (bien sur) a yellow tomato (or toh-mah-toe) and herbs (like Rosemary or H-eubs?) on top of rather large ice cubes… Yes, herbaceous would be the adjective to describe this concoction. It took a while to finish since it serves 2-4 people. This shared-punch might have been the closest I came to having tea that entire weekend!


All good things must come to an end when Jenzie has jetlag. As we made our way back up the staircase and left the roaring and mysterious cocktail-land behind us, we heard quite the ruckus on the street. It turned out there was a legit brawl up in this piece!


Thankfully we had the friendly door man to protect us. The hostess didn’t want us to leave as it seemed we had some unfinished business to tend to. FYI – Nightjar includes a cover for their live entertainment.


People were screaming, getting naked and throwing punches! Startled by this uncivilized behavior, it was officially time to call my uber.


No worries, I made it home safe and sound! Can’t wait to try their sister bar Oriole next time I’m in town.

<3 Jenzie xoxo

For More Information: NIGHTJAR

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FIFTEEN by Jamie Oliver – Islington – London, England

Ever since mimg_2304y trip back to Blighty in 2013, I’ve been on a Jamie Oliver kick. My university friends suggested dinner at Barbecoa for one of our rare mini-IPAG reunions. Dinner was lovely with cocktails to match and I found the view of St. Paul’s particularly stunning! I’ve followed Jamie Oliver’s Instagram since then and often reference his site for the rare occasion I cook a meal. This year I decided that Jamie’s resto FIFTEEN had to be on the itinerary.


Uber(ing) over was interesting as we almost got dropped off at the Jamie Oliver headquarters. That must be where all the magic happens! It turns out that FIFTEEN was established in 2002 and gives young unemployed people a chance for a better future through training in the hospitality industry. Every year they recruit 18 people between the ages 18-25 to become professional chefs through their apprentice program. How cool is that! Delicious, ethical and socially responsible…I dig it.


When we finally arrived our table hadn’t turned over yet. We decided to take a trip to the off-license around the corner for some bare necessities and soon returned to perch at the bar. I took a look around lounge area and happened to spot a small sign that noted their gin pairing classes offered on the first Tuesday of every month. If only I were in town a bit longer! Every time I come back to London I feel this way. There’s just so much to see and do … So many places to eat and drink! It just keeps getting better.


FIFTEEN specializes in mostly gin-based cocktails. I decided to order the “Rose Gimlet” – Beefeater gin, house made yuzu and rose water cordial served straight up. It was soft on the palette and the yuzu prevented it from going in the “soapy” direction. I’ve always appreciated the brave incorporation of floral flavors the Brits have mastered. Elderflower has certainly seen its days…Could rose flavor beverages be the way forward?


After deserting my phone with the bartender who was kind enough to charge it, we were escorted over to our table and seated with menus. The daily “Chef’s Selection” was £55 for five courses which seemed like great value. We decided against the wine pairing in efforts to be conservative. (haha) Instead we opted for a white and red recommendation that would transition well with the courses. I was trying to avoid falling on my face before the night’s end.

This is what happened:


We had VIP seats right next to the open kitchen which allowed sneak previews of delicious plates being served.


This delightful little amuse-bouche came out to play! It was a miniature cream cheese tarte topped with truffle and scallion shavings. This wouldn’t be the first time we saw truffles that evening.


Course 1:


Burrata, Grelot onion and Smoked Walnut and Malt: This was by far one of my favorite courses from the meal. What is not to like about the creaminess of burrata? This dish was a refreshing change from seeing another soft Italian cheese come out with your typical tomatoes and basil. It was rich and smokey and made me think of the transitional season we are entering. Complex with both flavor and consistency as well as providing a seasonal touch…It’s like taking your burrata camping.


Course 2:

Dorset Crab, Courgette, Wild Fennel, creme fraiche: This dish went in the entirely different direction from the burrata course. We went from a smokey fall dish to light, bright and colorful in the literal and flavorful sense.


Course 3:

Agnolotti, Summer Truffle, Courgette and Parmesan: This course went really well with our amuse bouche and burrata course. The cheese stuffed agnolotti was wading in a pool of what appeared to be parmesan and courgette foam, then sprinkled with a dusting of summer truffle. It was decadent in flavor but light enough to still leave room for what was coming. They may be hard to photograph but certainly not to eat!


Course 4: OUR MAIN

Short Rib with Garlic and Montgomery Cheddar Mash: Anyone that knows me well understands that I am new on the meat-eating front. I try to save it for special occasions and travel. Talk about the planets aligning for me to experience the mouth watering short rib at FIFTEEN. This beef actually melted on my tongue. The Rioja paired with this dish was enhanced with notes of cherries that paired with the jus beautifully. The mashed potatoes were velvety soft and whipped with garlic and one of my favorite things to come out of the U.K., cheddar. I. Was. In. Heaven.


Intermezzo: Sorbet blah blah blah


Et Enfin: Dessert!

English Strawberry, Goat’s Milk Ice Cream, Elderflower and Spring Herbs: While goat-based dairy confused my tongue in the past, it made perfect sense in this dish. We see a return of the elderflower (in a jelly form) which ties both the earthy qualities of the goat’s milk and the (crunchy herb bark) together nicely. The English strawberry (reduction) added an extra tart…zing! This was followed up by a selection of British cheeses. (not pictured here.) I was way too involved.


Last but not least, our check was served with house made truffles to take the edge off receiving the tab. The issue was that they were so rich and chocolaty, they left us thirsty! What to do?


We were quickly sorted out with a list of after dinner beverages. While battling severe jet-lag I was seriously impressed that I made it this far. I didn’t want to ruin the good trend I had going and decided to order an espresso martini by suggestion of our server. This rich and velvety caffeinated boozy-bev did just the trick. Smart server!


We had such a divine experience at FIFTEEN that we ended up closing the joint down. While very full and very merry, it was time to be on our way.


I highly recommend FIFTEEN for a place to kick back and relax with friends. Even if it’s only “near Shoreditch” you’ll still feel cool sipping on delicious cocktails with helpful and enthusiastic staff. I’d totally go back if this was my city.



<3 Jenzie xoxo

For More Information: FIFTEEN

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GONG @ Shangrila Hotel, The Shard – London, England

After 17 days abroad I’m excited to write about img_2304my latest adventures in Europe. This year’s extravaganza all started off at The Shard, ONE of if not THE pointiest building in London. I attempted to visit GONG during my EU-excursion IN 2015, but it seemed the universe had other plans in store as the building suffered a “wee-fire” which caused all of the bars and restaurants to close for my last available night in town. Like anything else in life, we enjoy things more when we have to wait and the time had finally come!


Since my last attempt to “Shard-it” was with my friend Linda, it seemed necessary to kick-off this trip right where we left off. I was super excited to see her for our annual catch-up from across the pond. I always wish they were more frequent!


I arrived early and had time to take a peak around. The Shard’s entrance is filled with business men and luxury sports cars waiting to be parked by valet. The foyer is covered in marble with a super attentive building staff. I was directed to the lift in seconds and on my way to cocktail-heaven located on the 52nd floor.


The commute up to GONG requires a two-lift process. This gives you the opportunity to snoop around the piano lounge and take other photos with closer views of the Thames. By the time you get all the way up to 52, the world is a LOT tinier. “Just look for the lady in red.” I was told.


Since GONG is first-come first-served, you may experience a wait. They try to implement at 30-quid spending minimum which you should have no problem meeting unless you’re a teetotaler. They have less-desirable couches where the view is blocked from the window as a waiting space. I sat there initially and hydrated with a soda water (I had to translate from club soda) while taking in the scenery. It’s an elegant yet tiny space with low seating. The cozy earth tone leather couches are an interesting contrast to all of the dark marble and reflective surfaces. I was comfortable and happy to wait and watch people whisper over their ornate libations. Something about that altitude makes you feel very…careful?

My dear friend Linda finally arrived and we joyfully hugged. Suddenly we were the loudest bunch in the lounge (in true American fashion). We gaped at the never ending list of impressive creations on offer and struggled to make a choice. After twenty minutes and a couple complimentary snacks we finally came to a conclusion. Jenzie needed the “Working 9-5” in honor of a 17 day game of “hookie”. I appreciated the efforts to make “cocktail-ing” not only about drinking something boozey, but rather a true experience for all of the senses. Each drink came with a “gouter” to be sparingly sampled in between sips. The efforts are to enhance different flavors throughout your cocktail’s journey…Cause you know it’s traveling through time and all.


Working 9-5 is made with a Talisker (whiskey) base along with Cocchi Americano, Mastiha, Provence bitters, yuzu and umami. I had to ask what every single ingredient was and I wasn’t bashful about it. That beef elegantly clipped to the side of my glass “tho”. #amazing #notveggiefriendly #novegansallowed

Next Up: Born To Fly (because you can’t just have one)

Born to Fly was a much less complex drink with brighter fruity notes. Ingredients listed: Grey Goose vodka shaken with basil, citrus and fig. If the flute wasn’t presented in a birdcage I’m not sure I’d be fussed…It made for a great Instagram moment “tho”!


The sun had set and our 90 minute table allotment was coming to a close. It was time for more adventures on the town… This time they’d involve some foodies! I was happy to get a sneak peak at my favorite bridge in London all beautifully lit up.

I’m baaaaaack! 😆 #London #JenzieInTheCity #TheQueen #Gatwick #Fun #EuroExtravaganza2016 #letsplay

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This was a luxurious cocktail hour with a tab to match. It is totally worth it for the view. You get a free pass to play tourist when trips to Blighty are so seldom. It was going to be a full weekend with her majesty! #fullisanunderstatement

<3 Jenzie xoxo

For More Information: GONG

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The Ace Hotel – Palm Springs, CA

JICThe first time I had an experience at an Ace hotel was in NYC. It was 2013 and The Ace in Flatiron had an art exposition in their gallery. My friend had lured me in on the grounds there was free wine on offer upon entry. After a few, the art became more interesting and so did the people. My second Ace-experience was followed up in Autumn of 2015 by a rather large serving of oysters at the John Dory bar…They spent the next four months repeating on me. Funny that shellfish…Sometimes you just get a bad oyster!



Waking up in Ace Palm Springs felt like waking up to an oasis. It. Was. Peaceful. Yet it felt a bit unreal. The panoramic view from our hotel porch was absolutely stunning.

imageOur mornings started off with some light clouds. They would part ways after we sipped a coffee and applied some sunblock before a short mosey over to the pool to collect a bloody mary.


While I’m sure ACE P.S. cranks out some crazy times, we were particularly lucky to have a zen experience with juuuuust enough funny business. image

The iconic pool…How I miss thee! We expected an entirely different vibe before arriving. People were normal and not everyone looked like a model which was comforting for my early spring battle of the buldge(s).

Bee boppin

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This is what you come here to do in a nutshell. One can’t complain about the perfectly curated track list that is amplified throughout the hotel. It sets the vacation and relaxation tone along with their incredibly attentive pool boys that never miss a beat.


All the sunshine, swimming and cocktailing (by the pitcher) made it easy to eat all of the delicious things. (Pictured Above): Veggie quesadilla and a side of grilled shrimp. Sometimes you can’t fit your shrimp inside your quesadilla and you have to order them separately. That’s all.


A day in the desert’s heat can leave you a little squirmish. If you absolutely need to participate in physical activity for sanity’s sake, Jenga is available in the lounge for your enjoyment. This is the entertaining alternative to their gym which tends to get a little smelly…It’s like burnt rubber to be exact. For saying the rest of the hotel is quality, they could step up their gym-game. There were issues with cardio machines as half were actually functioning.


One of my favorite highlights from my experience was the massage at ACE’s Feel Good Spa. I was advised to arrive 15 minutes before my treatment to receive my robe and then escorted to the locker room where I could safely store all of my things before heading up to my treatment room. The varied treatments offered include body masks, brushing, reflexology, massage and facials all using natural products made by The Body Deli.


The treatment rooms were pleasant but very basic. No frills! There is a shower conveniently located in the room so you can rinse before and after your session. It’s a straight forward spa experience and completely utilitarian as if they don’t want to take away from the natural beauty that surrounds. It keeps ones energies focused outside.


ACE made sure to hydrate us with mindful water stations. I made sure to steal a bottle of FRED from my room which could be conveniently refilled for free! We like free things. We like free things in flask-like bottles! “FRED goes in your pocket, not in the trash”. #puregenius

<3 Jenzie xoxo

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Just Because:

R.I.P. Gene Wilder <3