Sunday, 21 April 2019

Top Tips for a Short Trip to Prague


Readers, I’ve been on my adventures again. I’ve been in Prague.  Somewhat unfairly, Prague has a bit of a reputation for a booze culture, stag and hen parties everywhere and well, that’s about it.
Tram in Prague What Claire Did Travel Blog


This Glasgow travel blogger though, reveals that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Prague is beautiful – gorgeous architecture, narrow winding streets and plenty to do that doesn’t involve getting smashed in the pub.
Lovers Bridge Prague what claire did travel blog


My latest travel blog focuses on alternative Prague.  Other cool things that the city has to offer, secret Prague if you will. Not just about landing for a weekend and drinking cheap beer. 

If you happen to visit Prague and go to any of these places, be sure to let me know.

After my points above about booze, the first place I mention, is a bar. Oh the irony.  This isn’t any old bar though, it’s a 1920s speakeasy, with an amazing selection of cocktails, served in weird and wonderful ways.  You’ll need to reserve a table in peak times and it's one of the coolest bars in Prague. 
Hemmingway cocktail bar Prague


Fancy something a little different?  This 90 minute workshop in the heart of the Prague old town, costs around £30 per person. You learn a little about the history of chocolate and get to make some chocolate to take home with you.  A great activity for friends.

Chocolate Monkey Prague What Claire Did Travel Blog

Fan of a spa day? You’ll not be disappointed by a trip here.  Featuring a gorgeous, dimly lit, relaxation spa space, with sauna, steam room, pool and jacuzzi, it’s the ideal place to escape the city for a few hours, either when the weather is poor, or you want to rest those tired legs, after a day roaming the streets.
Charles iv spa prague what claire did travel blog


Eating Out
There’s too many places to mention from our trip, so here's some highlights. Prague does have something for all budgets. We’d advise avoiding the main square area and instead go check out some cool places in some of Prague’s neighbourhoods. Try and find where the locals go. 

We enjoyed lunch at Bakeshop (not actually far from the main square) but the pastries and baked goods were delicious.  It’s also really well priced for the quality.
bakeshop prague what claire did travel blog

For dinner, two standouts for us were Room – a tapas and mezze style bar attached to the Icon Hotel. So good, we went there twice during our 4 night stay.
Room tapas prague what claire did travel blog

Noi – a neighbourhood Thai restaurant, across the bridge, towards the castle.  Again, reasonably priced, with a  great selection of thai food. We ordered a selection of starters and mains to share.

Noi Thai restaurant prague what claire did travel blog


Choco Loves Coffee is a cool, old school café we found near our Air BnB.  It does homemade cakes and gourmet hot chocolate that you can pick out your personalised combination.  Delicious.

* * * 
Top 10 Random Prague Tips
  1. Get a 3 day pass for the public transport.  It’s incredibly cheap to get around Prague and we used a mix of trams and subways during our stay.  If the weather is good, it’s also a lovely walking city. 
  2. Avoid taxis – we’d been told they can rip people off, so be careful.
  3. Airporter – we used this great service to and from the airport, they even picked up our bags at a designated time from our Air BnB the morning we left and picked us up at a chosen location to go back to the airport. Cost was around £26 one way (split between 3 people). Great value.
  4. Walk Charles Bridge and head to John Lennon Wall and Prague’s narrowest street, for some cool Instagram photos.
    John Lennon Wall Prague What Claire Did Travel Blog

    Prague Narrowest Street What Claire Did Travel Blog
  5. The Gingerbread Museum is not a museum, it’s a shop.  That said, the gingerbread from there is amazing, so stop by and pick up your gingerbread as souvenirs.
  6. Don’t bother paying for the castle tour – it’s a lovely walk around for an hour or so, self guided.  We spent a morning there exploring the beautiful grounds.
    views from Prague Castle what claire did travel blog
  7. Plan your journey well in advance if you’re walking. Google Maps is a little slow in the narrow/backstreets of the old town and more than once we found ourselves lost and doubling back on ourselves.  Just a suggestion. 
  8. Make sure to try one of the delicious Trdelnik cakes – pastry, with cinnamon and sugar, filled with ice cream and toppings. You won’t be disappointed. You'll also be able to find many trdelnik shops across the city.  Price is around 4 euros for a whopping big cake. 
    trdelnik cake prague what claire did travel blog
  9. Buy a Lonely Planet Pocket Guide – we used this to plan out most of the places we went to.  The dining recommendations were superb!
  10. Wenceslas Square was a bit of a let down.  Worth a look if you’re walking by it, but I’d say there’s much more impressive things to see in the city.


Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Recipe - Asian Wild Boar with Noodles

Readers!

This Glasgow Food Blogger has been off getting experimental this month... the team from Wild and Game recently sent me some wild boar steaks to try as part of their Spring recipe campaign and I've been cooking up a storm in my Glasgow kitchen trying out their Asian Style Wild Boar recipe.

wild and game wild boar what claire did recipe development glasgow


This was super easy (time consuming but worth it, trust me) and we'd never had wild boar before. The long, slow cooking process creates a deliciously tender meat, rich in Asian flavours.  Fancy trying it for yourself?  Recipe and some cook-along photos below for you... to prove how easy this asian style wild boar recipe really is!

Also, did you know, game birds such as pheasant, partridge and grouse contain less fat than chicken, more protein and lower cholesterol, while wild boar is higher in protein and lower in saturated fat than beef? Facts!

“Game is in plentiful supply in the UK but many people still lack confidence when it comes to using it,” says Steven, who co-founded Wild and Game with Michael Cannon a year ago. 
“Our mission is to get more people in the UK enjoying game by highlighting how healthy, delicious and easy to use it actually is.”

wild and game logo

Disclaimer - with the new advertising regulations, I'm confirming I received some wild boar steaks from Wild and Game to try out their recipe with.  Any opinions expressed are my own. 



Asian Style Wild Boar with Noodles
Serves 2

Ingredients


2 Wild and Game wild boar steaks, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 asparagus spears, sliced
Half a red pepper, sliced
1 small carrot, sliced
Half a medium onion, sliced
100ml light soy sauce
1 large tsp garlic paste
1 large tsp ginger paste
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp cornflour
Sesame oil
600ml water

Method


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees centigrade, gas mark 3
  2. Heat some sesame oil in an oven-proof pot, add the meat and cook until browned.
  3. Mix the soy sauce, honey and cornflour in a small jug
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes, then pour in the soy, honey and cornflour mix. Stir and cook until thickened then top up with the water.
    wild and game wild boar cook on hob what claire did glasgow
  5. Keep on the heat until bubbling well, then put the lid on and transfer into the oven and cook for 2 - 2.5 hours. Check regularly and top up with water when necessary. You want the sauce to end up quite thick and sticky.
  6. Heat some sesame oil in a wok or frying pan and fry the vegetables for a few minutes – don’t overdo it; you want them to retain their bite.
  7. Add the vegetables to the pot of meat and stir well. Serve with noodles or rice.
    wild and game wild boar what claire did recipe development glasgow

Monday, 11 February 2019

Top 10 Copenhagen Hot Spots


Readers,

Sorry for the lack of content recently.  I’m not sure how to describe the last few months other than slightly overwhelming. Lots going on just now and I think I was burnt out by the time I got to the Christmas break, that yet again, the blog took a backseat until I felt inspired to write again.

You probably saw on Instagram that Mr What Claire Did and I travelled to Copenhagen for a short break over the Christmas period.  The short holiday to Copenhagen, included a trip to Malmo in Sweden for the day (only 40 minutes by train from the central station) so we managed to see 2 countries on our trip.

Copenhagen was lovely for a travel blogger to visit – it’s very Instagram friendly, however it’s SUPER expensive, so I’d suggest a few days in Copenhagen for a couple, is probably enough.  Take plenty of spending money with you – you’ll need it.

I’ve picked my Top 10 Copenhagen Highlights to feature in this blog.  If you decide on a trip to Copenhagen and follow any tips from my blog, please let me know!

Tivoli Gardens Copenhagen
A must see for any visitor – Tivoli Gardens was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s theme parks.  Old school rides, suitable for the whole family.  Don’t forget to go on the old rollercoaster in the centre of the park.
Note – Tivoli is closed throughout January. 

Tivoli Gardens Winter Copenhagen What Claire Did blog


Tivoli Food Hall Copenhagen
A great find for a selection of cuisines from independent traders.  There’s food, drink and a great atmosphere throughout the day.  Open through the year – including New Years Day. We stopped off here for lunch before taking a train down to see The Little Mermaid and Palace area. 

Tivoli food hall copenhagen what claire did blogTivoli food hall copenhagen what claire did blog



1656 Cocktail Bar Copenhagen
Look out for the graffiti walls and the tiny windows and you’re there.  Near the Meatpacking District (more about that below) this small cocktail bar has a wide selection of cocktails for all palates.  Take note – it’s around 15 to 20 euros a drink, so one before dinner will probably suffice.

1656 cocktail bar copenhagen what claire did blog


Dining in the Meatpacking District Copenhagen
Keep on walking from 1656 and you’ll hit the Meatpacking District – a series of slightly grungy looking industrial units, transformed into some amazing dining experiences.  I’d highly recommend a trip here. I wish we’d found Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District sooner into our trip as the best restaurants were here.  Special mention to Gorilla and Fleisch where we had two amazing dinners (price approx £60 a head, including 1 alcoholic drink).

Meatpacking district copenhagen what claire did blog


Day trip to Malmo from Copenhagen
In case you didn’t know, Copenhagen is so near the Swedish border, that a 40 minute train ride, across the big bridge will take you to another country.

It’s lovely to walk around in if the weather is good (not the biggest city I’ve ever been to) but Malmo does have a castle, with a lot of history.  We really enjoyed the exhibition about the second world war.   There’s some cool shops, a lovely coffee culture and stylish people all around.  We passed around 4 hours in the city midweek.

Malmo sweden what claire did travel blog


Trains leave regularly from Copenhagen Central Station and it’s around £24 for a return ticket.

Illums Bolighis Department Store Copenhagen
If you’re interested in interiors and scandi design, this isn’t to be missed.  There are two stores in Copenhagen – I’d recommend just visiting the homewares store, if you’re interested in design.  Top tip – if you’re there just after Christmas (or before) they have an amazing range of Christmas décor available and the post Christmas sale, made some items affordable to us mere mortals.

window display illums boghlis copenhagen what claire did blog


Harbour District Copenhagen
Probably some of the most instagrammable buildings – the coloured houses down by the harbour are beautiful to look at and worth a wander on a dry day.  There are a number of restaurants in the local area, but I’d be tempted to suggest you walk back a few streets, away from the tourist hub for your Copenhagen lunch.

harbour district what claire did travel blog copenhagen


Axel Guldsmeden Hotel Copenhagen
This place was amazing! We couldn’t fault it. Cool bar, nice drinks, great décor and outdoor seating area, Balinese inspired rooms and spa… what’s not to love?  By Copenhagen standards, it was affordable - £450 for 4 nights and it’s also right behind the main train station, which was great for getting around the city.

axel guldsmeden hotel what claire did travel blog copenhagen



Brunch at Aamanns Deli Copenhagen
If you happen to watch Travel Man on Channel 4, then you’ll have seen them film in this upscale brunch/lunch stop in Copenhagen. The smorrebrod is out of this world – some of the most beautiful sandwiches you’ll ever taste are served here. They also look beautiful too.  Definitely make a reservation – doors open at 11am.  We arrived at 11am and other tables followed soon after. It’s not a cheap lunch… think close to £65 for two, however, it’s famous in the city and a foodies dream.

It's also Michelin Guide recommended. 

aamanns deli copenhagen what claire did travel blog


Pastries from The Local  Bakery Copenhagen
And at the opposite end of the scale, we found this slightly tired looking local bakery near the train station.  Looks can be deceiving though – the pastries were fresh and delicious. We stopped into this local Copenhagen bakery more than once on our trip for a snack to go in the morning.


brod bakery copenhagen what claire did travel blog

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

24 Hours at Niagara


Readers, hopefully you’ve been keeping up to date with all my amazing adventures recently.  I’ve just done a 48 hours in Iceland post… and my top 10 Toronto eats has recently gone on the blog too… make sure you have a read!

Tonight’s post, is all about how you can spend 24 hours at the amazing, beautiful and lovely surrounding area of Niagara.   We did it… we hired a car, drove from Toronto on a gorgeous and sunny fall morning, in our Dodge Charger which took about an hour and a half… and thanks to a great connection, had a really good value room, on a high floor at the Hilton Niagara, where we had some good night time views.
niagara falls what claire did travel blog
Amazing fall colours at Niagara

Niagara was an experience and if you’re driving, there’s loads of ways to fill a day and night in the area.

Day 1 – AM to Mid Afternoon

Pick up your hire car and drive to your destination… there are LOTS of tours that leave from Toronto, however, we wanted some freedom to do our own thing.  We arrived, parked up and immediately went to see The Falls.

The weather was gorgeous, so we took a walk along, then the short hop funicular (it’s about 30 seconds) down to the visitors centre, where we booked ourselves onto The Journey Behind The Falls… fairly interesting, took around 30 minutes and allowed you to get up close for some great views.  We then continued our walk alongside (Canadian side) down to Maid of The Mist, and took the boat ride… be warned, if you’re up front, you will get wet. Ponchos are required… not optional!
American side niagara falls canada travel blogger what claire did


We then headed back into the town and thanks to the lovely team at Clifton Hill, who provided us with 2 Fun Passes which covered 6 of the attractions in the local area. We were able to amuse ourselves at The Canadian Midway for an hour or so – we went on the Ghost Blaster Ride, the 4DX Wild West Coaster which was great fun and played some arcade games (turns out I’m great at Bean Bag Toss) and air hockey. 
clifton hill fun pass niagara what claire did travel blogger


Passes cost $30 and covers 6 different attractions – great on a rainy day, or if you’ve got kids (or overgrown kids) to entertain.  
clifton hill fun pass niagara what claire did travel blogger


We were slightly perplexed by the whole Niagara Falls area… you’ve got this stunning natural attraction on one side, then a Blackpool meets Vegas meets Atlantic City type thing going on just up the road.  In some parts it’s a bit dated, plus, we went in the off season, so the area was quiet. It was all a bit bizarre.. but never the less, the Fun Passes were great to amuse us.. and actually, we made the best of being there, having fun like 2 big kids. 

Day 1 – PM

After a quick late lunch stop at Tim Hortons, we headed back to our hotel, with a massive in room jacuzzi and you guessed it, I watched the sun set from the comfort of my bath, with a large wine… we then took ourselves on a walk to the shops at Fallsview Casino and then went searching for somewhere for dinner… which turned out to be a bit of a struggle, if you don’t want to eat in a hotel or in a cheap, greasy chain.  A lot of places were shut when we were there (Tuesday night in October) so perhaps something to plan ahead, otherwise you’ll end up in the Hard Rock Café, like we did.  Not the worst, but not the best meal I’ve ever eaten. 
clifton hill fun pass niagara what claire did travel blogger


After dinner, we still had some activities left to do on our Clifton Hill Passes… first up (and honestly this was the most fun) we played Wizard's Golf… mini golf, in the dark, where everything is lit up in UV.  As usual, Mr What Claire Did managed to beat me, but we had a lot of fun.  It was well done and different to the other mini golf we’ve played in the past. It also got us out of the cold for around an hour!
clifton hill fun pass niagara what claire did travel blogger


Next up, we went on the Zombie Attack 4D ride, before heading back to the arcade to claim our prizes from our ticket wins and take a trip on the Big Wheel which gave us great views over the Niagara area at night. 


Uber is active in the area, so you’ll get a cab back to your hotel fairly cheaply and easily.

Day 2 – AM
Our hotel didn’t include breakfast, so we were up fairly early and off on our adventures.  Sadly the weather had turned, so we didn’t manage much outdoor exploring en route to Niagara on the Lake… we did however enjoy the views out the car window of some of the huge houses nearby.  Keep change handy, as it’s metered parking in the town of Niagara on the Lake, which is really quaint with lots of shops and cafes.  Sadly, the rain was so heavy, we didn’t spend much time there, but we got the feeling it would be lovely in summer. 

We did manage to find a lovely looking local place called Sunset Grill for breakfast. The staff here were so lovely and we got a table in the window.. where we watched the rain bounce off the pavements!
Image Source - YELP.CA

Day 2 – PM

From our very damp visit to the local town, we were soon back in the car and headed to the Outlets at Niagara… this is well worth a trip, if you are into your brands and shopping. There were so many great stores and at the moment, the exchange rate between the UK and Canada, is decent, we got some great bargains… much better than the US had been for shopping earlier in the year.  I left with some sports gear from Nike, a bag and credit card holder from Kate Spade and a Ralph Lauren jacket… as well as some goodies from Bath and Body Works… a store we don’t have here, but I love!
Image Credit: Outlet Collection at Niagara
Allow yourself around 3 hours to have a good look around the Outlets and if you’re looking for something a bit different, stop by The Bass Pro Shop before you drive back… if you’ve never been in one before, I can only describe it as something very different. 
Before we knew it, it was 4pm and time to drive back to Toronto to return our rental car. The drive back also had a great moment, on approach to the city, where the whole skyline appeared in front of us. It looked absolutely beautiful and furthered my love for this cool city.

Have you been to Niagara or Niagara-on-the-Lake? If so, what did you love? 


Disclaimer: I received 2 fun passes complimentary from Clifton Hill to use during our time at Niagara.  Any opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Top 10 Toronto Eateries

Readers! I’m back to it again tonight with the latest in the travel series.  As you’ve all probably seen over on Instagram, we’re just back from a 10 day trip to Iceland and Canada . We had an amazing time, but most of all, lets address the food in Toronto.  It was AMAZING.  It’s such a multicultural city so you can literally eat anything at any time of the day. Any cuisine, any way, any price.  We really managed to eat our way around the world over the course of a week.  


graffiti alley toronto what claire did food and travel blog

I’ve tried to pick out some of the trip highlights below and have linked up to their website or social pages where I can… If you go to Toronto, be sure to check out some of these great spots.  And let me know!

You’ll find this sweet little burger spot on College St in Little Italy.  The guys were really welcoming, the poutine was spot on and the fed and watered us when we arrived after a transatlantic flight. We also watched The Leafs game with the staff (first one of three that week) cos Canadians are really friendly like that.


Toronto based chain, also found on College Street (and other locations around the city). Big, hearty filling brunch, incredibly welcoming staff, bottomless coffee if you want it and big… massive….
PANCAKES.

You’ll find it inside the Soho Hotel. Chef Susar Lee’s Chinese restaurant has a hip, stylish interior and great food to go with it. Susar Lee started as an apprentice at The Peninsula in Hong Kong and has been on the tv show Chopped Canada.  The dim sum is amazing.

dim sum at luckee toronto, what claire did


You’ll find this tiny taco joint in downtown Toronto. We fell on it by chance after a trip to Michael’s craft store when we were starving at lunchtime.  Freshly made, great value and filling. Popular with the locals who drop in for a take out lunch.  Seating is available at the back.

mi taco toronto what claire did food and travel blog

Canada’s No1 restaurant. That’s probably all I need to say. It’s booked out weeks in advance and we managed to score a table by booking on the hour the 8 week slots are released.  Was it epic?  Yes.  Was the wine flight worth it?  Absolutely.  Was it value?  For the standard of food and service, it’s cheaper than some of the other big city tasting menus and packed a punch.  We left, full, delighted and longing to go back. 


alo toronto canada number 1 what claire did food and travel blog

alo toronto canada number 1 what claire did food and travel blog

A sports bar?  Really? This was like no other sports bar we’d ever been in. Ever.  It was massive. We went before The Leafs game to enjoy the atmosphere and loved it.  Huge screens, massive bar, friendly staff and a big menu of bar food… Recommended… the buffalo chicken poutine. 


real sports bar and grill toronto poutine what claire did food and travel blog

You’ll find in the Kensington Market area.  A lovely café with a Japanese inspired menu.  We sheltered from a very rainy Toronto day in here, when we were done with the dampness of the city, a steaming hot rice bowl and gyoza awaited. Oh and they do gold leaf ice cream, if you're interested. 

film cafe toronto what claire did food and travel blog


Christina Tosi’s place in the Shangri La Hotel.  We’d been to Momofuku in Vegas and were too full for Milk Bar afterwards, so I was determined to go… take note, it’s very different from the Vegas “counter” experience – it’s a refrigerated glass box, with a few benches outside and the ice cream machine is downstairs.  I had an iconic cereal and milk ice cream and loved it, but… the overall experience wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for.  Worth a visit, even just to see the inside of the hotel!

milk bar toronto what claire did food and travel blog

Again, another place we stumbled upon for lunch.  A lovely food/cookshop/deli type store, with a small café space at the front, making wholesome and delicious food.  The chilli bowl smelled amazing and I enjoyed butter chicken poutine – think chips, cheese curds and slow cooked butter chicken curry on the top.  Well worth visiting, reasonable prices and it’s cooked freshly for you.

wildly delicious toronto food and travel blog what claire did


And lastly, for the ultimate foodie experience, take a trip to St Lawrence Market.   You'll thank me for this.  Every food experience you could wish for, under one roof... and make sure to stop by the Carousel Bakery for a Peameal Bacon Sandwich... buy one between two, so you've space for more!

peameal bacon sandwich carousel bakery toronto what claire did food and travel blog