1 May 2016

Suitcase. Bordeaux, France - Travel Guide

I love France. I feel as though it's a bit like my spirit country. Every time I go back it captures me with its architecture, its way of life, its language.

My latest trip was to Bordeaux. A region I think I can adequately describe in one word...


A quick stroll through town on my arrival had me immediately in love. The locals may not necessarily agree, but to me Bordeaux has many Parisian qualities. The architecture, the vibe, the streets. The beauty is there but on a smaller scale. The people also seem much friendlier - they're willing to help and chat to you (albeit in French but that's fine by me!) and there is food everywhere! So many restaurants and cafes lining the streets, all of which look tummy-grumblingly enticing.

If you're in town some of the sights you must see include the iconic Place de la Bourse on the banks of the river...

The St Andre Cathedral...

Porte Cailhau which is like the ancient gate to the city...

The Musee des Beaux Arts...

And the courtyard near the Grand Theatre, the carousel is like something out of a story book...

Having walked all day and indulged in some delightful crepes (not one but two!) I set off for my hotel - the renowned Saint James just outside the city on the hill in Bouliac.

With its own vineyard and a Michelin star restaurant, this is a pretty great spot to base yourself for an indulgent getaway. And, as the hotel has only 18 rooms, you're guaranteed a sense of personalisation and 5-star service. If you can, definitely splurge for the suite, it has its own outdoor jacuzzi.

Having unpacked it was time for bed, and I tell you it was a dreamy slumber, overlooked by the winking lights of Bordeaux in the distance.

I was up with the sun the next morning, people to see, places to go! Top of my list was wine country. Obviously. Off I set in my trusty steed...

If you're looking for a picturesque drive you're going to want to head north of Bordeaux, following the river up on the D209. It's stunning countryside. Wineries are dotted back-to-back each with their own ch√Ęteau, from charming little farm-style ones to grand palatial looking things; they took my breath away.

Particularly, Pichon Longueville, est. 1851. Wow. My inner princess was screaming "home" whilst looking around for my prince as soon as I pulled up. It truly is a stunning property, surrounded by rows and rows of vines that produce some pretty exceptional cabernet wine.

Having explored plenty of countryside for the day it was time to head back to the hotel, I was in for a treat; dinner at Saint James, cooked by head chef Nicolas Magie. Lucky I'd worked up an appetite, let the 6-course feast begin...

First a little appetiser to get going; a trio of fried chickpea, a creamy fish sphere and a shellfish mousse served in an egg shell. Palette tingling? Yes.

The first course was possibly my favourite. Delicate red mullet served with caviar and tapioca. A lovely way to start a meal.

Next was Mr Magie's famous crunchy egg served with crayfish and a bisque. The technique appeared faultless.

Time then for some fish served with wrinkly little morles (wild mushrooms that are surprisingly subtle in flavour) and topped with a crispy morles creation that tasted somewhat like a prawn cracker.

When in France one must have pigeon of course, this one was served with a blackcurrant sauce, ravioli and snails.

For the cheese course I got to enjoy a warm goats cheese blancmange served with a sweet red pepper sorbet. Certainly a very savoury choice yet delicate and light.

And finally the white asparagus dessert. A vegetable revered at this time of year, who'd have thought it could translate into a sweet dish but it absolutely did when served with caramelized hazelnuts and sorbet. Delicate and beautiful.

I rolled upstairs to bed feeling thoroughly sated, the food was truly exceptional. If you get a chance, be sure to try a cooking class with the Saint James chefs as well. I've got recipes coming for you next week.

The sun peeked through my windows the following morning, signifying my final day. Just a 30min drive away, the beautifully historic village of Saint Emilion is where I would spend it. This ancient village holds such charm and character, not to mention it is a wine and foodie haven. Cobbled pathways entwine through buildings, often so steep and uneven even I struggled with footing. Trek downwards though and you're sure to be rewarded with magical alleys and vine-covered walls.

Bordeaux, it was a pleasure. France you were a delight yet again. Thank you to the Saint James for having me, book your stay here, this region is not to be missed.

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Photos by Krissie.

28 April 2016

Style It. April Celeb Street Style

It's always about this time each year that I feel like summer is close enough to go out and buy some warmer weather items [despite the sprinkle of snow we had on Tuesday!]. Admittedly in London they still need some layering, but it signals a wardrobe changeover none-the-less. When looking for inspiration, these three ladies are my go-to. Check out their best street style looks from this month.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley does transit in style with this coordinated airport look. Love the sporty stripe on the wide leg trousers and pairing them with a t-shirt, gives the look a nice dressed-down effect.

It's all about the just rolled out of bed look these days; a chic slip dress is wear it's at. Love the way Kendall Jenner has coordinated the look with a matching robe coat, tonal over-the-knee boots and tee for a not-so-naked finish.

With legs for days, Taylor Swift looks effortlessly glam in ripped skinny denim and a wrap blouse. The strappy detail on her shoes adds plenty of effect, not forgetting the season's must-have choker.

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Photos by Krissie via Pinterest and retailers.

24 April 2016

Suitcase. Corfu, Greece - Travel Guide

Ever since my first visit to Greece last summer, this southern corner of Europe has held a piece of my heart. Daily, I relive the memories of vibrant sunshine, clear seas and new landscapes. Hence why I was thrilled to return to the isles this spring - the Ionian Island of Corfu was my destination.

We settled into our temporary home at Marbella Corfu on the south east coastline - and my what a home it was. This place is 5 stars and such a treat, particularly if you get a balcony room with hot tub. You virtually couldn't drag me away from this view.

Dress (similar)

A walk around the grounds is also a delight. There are gardens that look like they're inspired by Italian vineyards, quaint courtyards and spectacular balconies.

Not forgetting the private beach and of course the dreamlike blue swimming pools. Let's just say for the Aussie girl coming from a long London winter, it was my idea of heaven.

After unpacking and a light lunch I was firmly on Greek time i.e., what time? I nestled in to read my book (if you love the fashion industry then you'll love this one - I couldn't put it down), alternating between poolside and beachside. Water temps are still cool at this time of year but I tell you the sun was sizzling - now I remember what a tan feels like.

Bikini (alternate colour available - top and bottoms)

Also, a word to the wise, if you can drag yourself up out of bed in the morning, then the sunrises here are simply magic.

I must say, for me, a huge part of the Greek experience is the people. This nationality is truly so delightful. They're always happy to chat, they want to help, they're interested, they're curious, they're just a delight to be around. These islands wouldn't be the same without their charm.

Another of the highlights for me in this part of the world is the food... More specifically the breakfast... Let's just cut to the chase here... It's the Greek yoghurt. It's unbelievable. So so creamy and pillowy. Of course you simply must drown it in honey. Perfection. I don't know how I'll ever eat the stuff from the supermarket again. If anyone knows where to buy the true Greek yoghurt in London please tell me!

On the food note, if you stay at Marbella Corfu make sure you check out their Italian restaurant - this is holiday-esque fine dining and the food is exceptional. Be sure to try the mushroom and truffle risotto, and the panacotta for dessert.

Enough about food. It's a wonder I still have a body fit for the beach. Speaking of which, there are so many beaches to explore around the island. My tip is to get a hire car and make your way around. My top picks are Palaiokastritsa and Nisaki.

On the west coast Palaiokastritsa is known as the island's gem. Multiple bays run along a 2km stretch of beach, each more beautiful than the next.

Bikini top and bottoms / Sunglasses

And if you find yourself in this neck of the woods, do not miss a trip up to Lakones in the hills above for the most spectacular view.

Nisaki on the east coast is a smaller beach with plenty of rocky charm and blue-tinted waters. Honestly it's hard not to take a postcard-worthy picture wherever you go.

I had five days in heaven and I returned to London feeling like I'd been away forever. It was a delightful break to recharge and of course get a tan after 6 months of sub 20 degree temperatures. It's safe to say Greece now holds an even larger chunk of my heart.

This part of the world makes you realise what's important in life. We don't need much to be happy; just good company, a deep blue sea and buckets of Greek yoghurt.

Thank you to Marbella Corfu for having us. Book your stay here - I'm telling you, you won't regret it.

Photos by Krissie and my beautiful friend [and travel buddy] Valentine.