8 things you must eat in New York City

Food, Travel, Uncategorized




If a trip to New York is on your bucket list then I can almost guarantee that you have thought about all the glutinous goodies you can inhale whilst there. New York cheesecake, fresh street cart pretzels, mammoth stacks of pancakes, pastrami sandwiches, deep-fried… anything. The list really is endless, but there are certain things that you really cannot miss. Here are your top eight must-eats whilst in New York City




1.An Everything Bagel from Russ & Daughters

We have far too few Deli’s in the UK for my liking and that is something The Big Apple does very, very well. Russ & Daughters has a 100-year history in NYC and has become a well-loved part of the City ever since Joel Russ, a Jew who emigrated from Poland, got his first Bricks & Mortar store in 1914. Today, his legacy is adored by many. Oprah herself included. The Everything bagel is something us brits also seem to miss out on – A white bagel with poppy seed, sesame seed, pretzel salt, onion flake, garlic flake, and pepper topping. A little bit of everything. Pop into any one of the many locations across Manhattan and order one of these bad boys. There is an overwhelming amount of fillings to choose from so if it all gets a bit much for you, opt for the pastrami smoked salmon, scallion cream cheese and don’t forget the tomato, onion, and capers. A bagel truly made for the Gods.


2.New York Cheesecake

A food of much contention. Personally, I often prefer the *buttery* biscuit base variety topped with the chilled cheesecake filling that we often get in Europe but you can’t possibly visit New York and not try the cheesecake. This American counterpart, however, is often baked and comes with a sponge bottom. For the best in the City, there are a few contenders for the top spot but there is one major standout and you don’t have to break the bank for a taste. Eileen’s Special Cheesecake opened up in 1976 and is still serving up a dazzling array of lovingly homemade cheesecakes in every flavour you can imagine. Eileen offers up the large scale cheesecakes to share but the best part of this small corner shop in Little Italy is the mini cheesecakes on offer in over 25 different flavours, including seasonal varieties. After all, why have one cheesecake when you can have three?


3.A Hot Pastrami Sandwich from Katz’s Delicatessen

“I’ll have what she’s having” goes the immortal line. Well, unless what she is having is the Hot Pastrami Sandwich, I’m not interested. Many tourists flock to Katz Delicatessen as fans of When Harry Met Sally and THAT scene but there is so much more to this venue than a little taste of Hollywood. Katz offers up the best damn sandwich I have ever had in my life. Seriously, Joe genuinely spent the rest of our holiday talking about that sandwich and looking at photos of that sandwich. It was like he was having an affair… with a sandwich. There are many things that this delicatessen has lacking; the decor hasn’t been changed since what looks like the 50s, the ordering process is manic and the service is lacking in, well everything, BUT, it is all worth it for that sandwich. I recommend getting the meal combo of a bowl of soup and half a sandwich. That may not sound like much but when the giant matzo ball soup is placed in front of you along with a sandwich packed with what is a mountain of hot pastrami, you won’t be disappointed.


4.A Dollar Slice

It’s simply an NYC institution. I’m sorry but you cannot visit the Big Apple and not have one (or several in my case) dollar slice/s. there are seriously countless stops dotted around the city where you can get your fix of hot pizza but it really is a tale of the good, the bad and the greasy. For some of the best $ slices in the City check out Percy’s in Greenwich Village or Joe’s Pizza near Times Square. Ok, you pay a little more for your slice at Joe’s but I promise you it’s worth the extra $1.75.

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5. A Huge Stack of Pancakes or French Toast

I feel like something the city does really well is their brunch! So don’t book a hotel with breakfast just because it’s more convenient, get your butts up early and find yourself a breakfast worth having. For that quintessential American diner vibe, you have to get yourself over to Big Daddy’s Diner. Whipped cream-topped milkshakes, bright fifties decor and pancakes the size of dustbin lids just packed to the sky with whatever topping you choose. the Hunka Hunka Burnin Love comes stuffed with chocolate chips and piled with sliced banana and whipped cream. The real showstopper though has to be the french toast at Upper west side, Maison Pickle. If you want to have brunch here you are going to have to book. Their Challah french toast is well known and it is not hard to see why…


6. Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding

Yes, the cupcakes are iconic but the banana pudding is the real superstar here. For the Brits amongst you, pudding is not referring to the term we use for basically any dessert! It’s more like a hybrid of custard and cake. I can’t even explain it but, Oh my god it is next level. The Magnolia Bakery banana pudding is pretty iconic and there is a justification for that. A banana and vanilla pudding cup swirled with pieces of vanilla sponge and banana chunks. Its heaven in a pot. The store also does a monthly special which are total one-offs, most recently chocolate hazelnut, pumpkin gingersnap, and red velvet. Don’t offer to share a tub, I promise you will regret it.


7. Cheap but very Cheerful Chinese Food

Some of the best eateries in the Big Apple leave much to be desired when it comes to decor and that rule is no exception when it comes to getting some of the best Chinese food. Chinatown might not be top of your list of sightseeing but you may change your mind when you hear about the food on offer. Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles Inc, Bo KY, and Xi’an Famous Foods are all fantastic stops for some very high quality and very very cheap dim sum or noodles but the top of the charts has to be Nom Wah Tea Parlour. It’s worth the queue. Serving dim sum and dumplings since 1920, Nom Wah with their Argos order style menus and dirt cheap dumplings is phenomenally popular for a reason – The food is insane! Oh, and it’s insanely cheap. Four dumplings? $4. It doesn’t get better than that.


8. Anything from Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market is without a doubt one of the best food markets in the world. It is truly a treasure trove for any self-respecting foodie. Fresh oysters, hand-rolled sushi, wine bars, doughnutterys, Korean soups, matcha porridge, and lobster rolls. The list is truly endless. You can get anything your stomach desires all under one roof. It’s also home to a fantastic vintage store – Artists & Fleas (well worth a visit for some very cool souvenirs). This is all about the food though after all and there is no shortage of choice. A little tip – Please do not skip by Los Tacos No1. They serve up fresh authentic tacos that you will struggle to beat. My fave? The Adobada (Marinated pork).



The Ultimate Guide to Harry Potter Studios, Watford

Travel, UK



Any self-confessed Potter head has either already ventured to the Warner Bros Studio Tour in Watford or has spent each waking moment dreaming of going. Well, whether you are an Auror or a first-year it doesn’t really matter, This guide should help your visit be the best yet.



Tips & Tricks

1.Buy your tickets in advance and try to go on a weekday!

You will inevitably arrive to a hoard of people queueing outside the main entrance. If you have already pre-purchased your tickets online you have no need to queue at the kiosk. There are handy touch screen machines that you can collect your ticket from and that is much quicker.

2. Leave the shopping until the end of your tour

Unless you’re a sad act like me and want a prop to wear on the tour, then leave the shopping until you are finished. There are several shops throughout the studios and the exit point is through the store that you see on entering anyway. Save your arms from carrier bag marks and wait. Unless you know Hermonie’s bag enchantment charm? DM me!

3. Stop off at the Three Broomsticks and share a Butterbeer

Ok it’s not actually The Three Broomstick it’s The Backlot cafe but there is a small Butterbeer shack for you to stop at. If you have an insane sweet tooth then be my guest, have a Butterbeer all to yourself, if not, get one to share. Butterbeer is exceptionally sweet, imagine a cream soda with a butterscotch cream on top, That’s the level of sweetness. I’d recommend ordering one in a souvenir glass, ok it’s plastic and isn’t the most attractive but it makes a much better photo than if you order one in the flimsy plastic beer glasses they have. Rain or shine, I recommend getting a seat outside the Backlot Cafe. There is a small overhead canopy and you get a lovely view of the Knight Bus, Privet Drive, etc. Take a jumper!!

4. Make sure to take your Time Turner with you

What? You don’t have one? How absurd. I suppose you will have to make do with the good old fashioned Muggle way… taking your time. The website advises that you will spend 2-3 hours at the Studios, I spent just over 4 on my visit and I still didn’t get to see everything. Don’t give yourself any time constraint. Take your time wandering through and read the information sections – you can find out some really fascinating facts about the movies and the sets. A lot of the props are incredibly detailed too – Spend your time meandering over the Gryffindor Common Room tapestries or gazing at the carefully placed detail on the Tri-Wizard Cup. One of the most beautiful things about the Harry Potter franchise is the almost incomprehensible attention to detail that went into the films, so take a few moments to appreciate it. I promise you, you’ll feel like you are in Hogwarts itself!



Hidden Gems

We know the books and the films are magic but so are the sets and the props. Here are a few hidden gems that you shouldn’t miss.

  • The tiny bottles of memories stored in the corner of Dumbledores Office – You’ll spot a few familiar names…
  • Uncle Vernon’s most prized possession, The trophy made entirely of drillbits – Sat on the mantel in 4 Privet drive behind the flurry of letters
  • Dolores Umbridge walking the tight rope in Fred and George’s Joke Shop – The Diagon Alley set
  • a grubby little package wrapped up in brown paper lying on the floor” of Vault 713. 
  • The Chocolate Frog cupcake at The Chocolate Frog Cafe – Entrance of the studios
  • Harry’s spectacles on a shelf in the cupboard under the stairs
  • Self-stirring cauldrons – These were made for the film!
  • The board of the animal actors in each film – Read the short bio’s, it is utter heartfelt loveliness reading them.


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Best Photo Opportunites

You can be honest with me, it’s ok, we all know that one of the main things you want to do at the Studios is have your photo taken in the Potions Lab to show off on Instagram. Me too, but there is no need to spend hours queuing at the green screen stations. Seek out some of these locations to get the Golden Snitch of photo ops.

  1. The Harry Potter Undesirable No1 posters – Outside the studios either as you arrive or exit
  2. Sat at one of the benches in The Great Hall – Everyone else will be gathered in front of the costumes, take your moment and get a great shot of you on one of the benches.
  3. Mirror of Erised – this one is trickier to get (crowds) but try to find a moment and get your closest photographer to snap your reflection in the mirror.
  4. At the entrance to Dumbledore’s Office
  5. Looking into the Pensieve
  6. Boarding the Hogwarts Express – Queue to board the train and as you are boarding get your mate/partner/resident photographer to stay at the bottom of the small steps to catch you heading off to Hogwarts!
  7. Rushing onto Platform 9 and 3/4 – Luggage in hand of course
  8. Sipping on a Butterbeer – Take it outside and use the Knight Bus or Privet Drive as your backdrop
  9. Outside No3 Privet Drive – yes, I know Harry lived at No4 but there will be a huge queue outside No4 – Go next door and stand tactfully in front of the house number. They’ll never know the difference…
  10. The Hogwarts bridge.
  11. Gringotts Bank in front of one of the Goblins – Hand over your card and request some galleons.
  12. Perusing in any one of the storefronts on Diagon Alley.
  13. The sweet shop within the gift shop – This real store looks just like Honeydukes!


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Key Information:

Website here.

For all transport information, opening hours and FAQs use the above website link.

Ticket prices:

  • Adult (16+): £41
  • Child (5-15): £33
  • Family (2 adults & 2 children OR 1 adult & 3 children): £132

8 reasons why West Wales should be your next holiday destination.

Travel, Wales



New Quay is home to the Black Lion, reputably Dylan Thomas’ favourite haunt. Tresaith is home to The Ship Inn, my favourite haunt. Aberaeron is home to The Harbourmaster, reputably everyone’s favourite haunt. It has won countless awards after all. You could really spend your entire holiday going from pub to pub and why not!? From the beautifully modern Harbourmaster to the traditional stone and slate Pentre Arms (Another favourite of Dylan Thomas) there are so many lovely pubs to choose from so why choose at all?


From where we stay in Tresaith there are at least six or seven beaches within a short driving distance and each more beautiful than the last. My personal favourite is Mwnt, wind down the country roads and you’ll most certainly think you are lost but the view at the end is worth the journey. Sat on that beach, looking around at the crystal blue sea and the rock formations dipping into it you’d believe you were in a movie set. Oddly, it somewhat reminds me of that Raquel Welch beach scene in One Million Years B.C. A beach that is so beautiful it’s as though it is completely untouched, totally natural and almost prehistoric. How many other places can you say that about in this day and age?**



Up until my first visit to West Wales I had the right hump about never having seen dolphins. I’ve been to countless Caribbean islands but not a single spotting… I drive two hours from Cardiff to New Quay and there are dozens of the buggers! It’s almost a challenge to not spot any wildlife on the Pembrokeshire and Cardigan coasts. Dolphin pods, Seals basking in the sun or popping up to be nosy, Crabs, Lobsters and sea life galore. Best of all? All in their natural habitat. For a great dolphin spotting location head to one of my favourite pubs in the world, The Ship Inn, Tresaith. Grab a cold drink and try to nab a bench overlooking the sea, there are dolphin spottings almost every day from that exact location.


If there is one thing I love most about the seaside it’s the seafood and the West coast does it exceptionally well. Try The Lime Crab in New Quay for your old school fish and chips fix. In addition to cod and chips for you traditionalists, they also offer up a few different dishes such as salt & pepper squid, mackerel goujons or scallops for those who like their chippy tea with a twist. They also offer a great range of both gluten-free and vegan options. If you fancy a sit-down meal then you really can’t miss The Cliff, Cardigan or The Harbourmaster, Aberaeron. Both serve up a stunning array of freshly caught seafood. For a quick pub snack, The Harbourmaster crispy cockles with spicy vinegar are not to be missed! If you somehow aren’t full from the copious amounts of crab, cockles and other fresh fishies you simply cannot miss a visit to Crwst in Cardigan for a spot of brecwast. Try their pancakes served with Llaeth y Llan yogurt, homemade granola, mixed berries, and Cardigan honey and grab a few doughnuts to snack on for later. You’ll find space, trust me.



Whether it’s famous poets or prehistoric settlements you are looking for, the West is a haven of historic tales for you to explore. Arthur’s Stone, Cefn Bryn is surrounded by myth and legend, the 25 tonne stone is actually a Neolithic tomb but in the land of the dragon, there is no harm in believing whichever legend you choose. Head into the town centre of Cardigan and to the castle that sits on the banks of the River Teifi to explore years and years of Welsh history, or, If beautiful views are the cheese to your toastie then don’t miss Pembroke Castle. It’s as if Disney plucked this castle right into each of their movies, it really is breathtaking. It’s also the birthplace of Henry VII!



Dive into any one of the aforementioned pubs and you won’t struggle to find a pint of good, Welsh beer. The South may be the kings of brewing the beers with the likes of Tiny Rebel, Grey Tees and Pipes all residing there but the West know how to serve it up. For a real taste of the West then seek out a pint of the strong stuff brewed by Felinfoel or Gwaun Valley Breweries. Iechyd Da!*


Stand by the statue of St Crannog looking over Llangrannog bay. Near the Church of the Holy Cross in Mwnt. On the beach in Aberporth. Stand/Sit/Jump in any one of those spots and tell me that those views don’t rival some of the best in the world. Wales is a country of unparalleled beauty and the West coast showcases it beautifully with its picturesque seaside towns and coastal paths.



Joe and I are lucky enough that we go to the West Coast every summer with his family. When I started writing this piece I asked him what his favourite thing about Tresaith was (The small coastal village we stay in), “It’s a week of the year where I can just totally relax because it feels a million miles away but yet it still feels like home”. Well, I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s a home away from home, a small piece of Welsh paradise and the perfect remedy for those busy bees amongst you that just want a break away from city life.


If you are officially head over heels and fancy booking your break to West Wales, check out Canopy and the Stars for some gorgeous accommodation options. Including a few dog-friendly ones so your pooch can also come for a mooch!

*Cheers! in Welsh.

**Be warned there are lots of steps to get down to the beach so make sure you have your supplies before you get down there, you don’t want to find your perfect spot and then realise you’ve forgotten your much needed Calippo.

12 Hours in Amsterdam



Last weekend Mr. PL and I went on a five-day cruise for my lovely Dad’s 50th birthday. One of the day stops was Amsterdam. I have visited once before but I was only 17 at the time and so I was only interested in sleeping in, staying up all night and laughing at the risque souvenirs. So this time I was so excited to return and see the real Amsterdam.

We got off in the cruise terminal and decided to wander through the streets toward the Bloemenmarkt. Narrow, tall houses with ornate gabled facades line each street, everywhere you look there is a beautiful building to gaze at. If architecture isn’t your cup of tea I assure you that you will still be fascinated. One reason – Each house seems like it was built in the middle of an earthquake. They lean in every possible direction, the windows look positively tipsy in their frames. It truly is the Dutch answer to The leaning tower of Pisa – The leaning houses of Amsterdam.



Bloemenmarkt is the worlds only floating flower market. Sounds like a dream and looks like a dream. Each market stall sits above the Singel canal, full to the brim with tulips of every colour you can imagine. I have a few pleasures in life, fresh flowers and cheese are two of them – Bloemenmarkt combines the both because directly opposite the flower market sit a plethora of cheese shops. As if I hadn’t already indulged enough.



We strolled along the canals all the way to the old Heineken Brewery which today houses the Heineken Experience and museum. One of the many beauties of Amsterdam is that you can walk around most of it as it isn’t a huge city like say Rome or London. You get to see so many more hidden gems wandering around.


We spent around 2.5 hours in the Heineken Experience, learning about the history of the brewery, the beer, and the brand. It really is such a fantastic and immersive set up that they have there. It’s well tailored to the Instagram crowd with numerous ‘selfie spots’ dotted around and my favourite – the karaoke bikes!


To finish the tour, we drank wayyyy too much beer in the Heineken bar. Perfectly poured pints in a low-lit underground bar, trays of bitterballen and a pour your own pint immersive bar. I blame the staff at that bar for how much cash I went on to spend in the brand shop.




After spending the afternoon learning about Heineken and drinking Heineken what did we decide to do? Go to Cafe de Pijp of course for a large Heineken. Retro-modern decor, large cold beers and more hot, crisp bitterballen. I really couldn’t have asked for more. With a slight beer haze and bellies full of deep fried Dutch delicacies, we spent the rest of our evening walking through the canal district and the old square. Amsterdam’s image can be sordid but it’s so much more – a beautiful, cosmopolitan city perfect for a city break.





Disclosure: Opinions expressed are purely my own and I accept no responsibility for your sudden urge to book a trip to Amsterdam