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healthy

Lifestyle, London

A Sneak Peek At London’s South Kensington Club

June 19, 2015

London is home to some of the oldest and most exclusive private members’ clubs in the world. I was fortunate enough recently to visit the newest club in town, South Kensington Club. Offering something a little bit different than your average private club – SKC will be catering to members with an interest in culture, health and fitness, exotic travel and culinary experiences once it officially opens this month on 25th June.IMG_4734 (1)

I met one of my oldest friends and fellow Cali native, Britt, for dinner at SKC during the ‘soft launch’ phase for a taster of what is still yet to come. If this is the club’s pre-opening period then I can only imagine how spectacular the official opening will be. Far from stuffy and pretentious, the staff were friendly with meticulously attentive service from the second I walked in through the imposing black front door. I was personally escorted to the Club’s restaurant, but had to stop and quickly admire the long elegant staircase leading upstairs to the juice bar, gym and terrace. Can’t you just imagine the uniformed von Trapp children marching down these steps in perfect unison?!
Original stairway at SKC

Located a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of South Kensington and Hyde Park on Harrington Road, SKC is steeped in British history. The Club’s bathhouse extends into Queensberry Mews, which was once Francis Bacon’s first London home and studio. IMG_4714The 25,000 sq ft building was also the former home to the original Pineapple Dance Studios and Ronnie Wood’s Harrington Club, where the likes of Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart graced the stage. Whilst the interiors of the Club are modern in style, there’s a homely atmosphere and you can’t help but feel the artistic spirit of the previous residents. 
Restaurant at SKC

The Club’s Restaurant has a nice laid-back and welcoming vibe, so you won’t feel out of place if you don’t dress to impress. The Restaurant serves healthy Mediterranean cuisine with an infusion of traditional artesian Sicilian flare from breakfast to dinner with an inspiring wine and cocktail menu to match.IMG_4688

We mulled over the menu sipping on a refreshing Aperol Spritz in true Italian spirit and were served the most delicious kamut bread with tomato spread, anchovies and capers to nibble on. I had never tried kamut before, which is apparently an ancient wheat that is incredibly healthy and easier to digest than modern day wheat. I could have easily feasted on this healthy bread basket all night, but Britt insisted that we slow down on the kamut and put our order in pronto before we started to fill up. IMG_4687

There is a wide selection to choose from off the Mediterranean menu, but we decided to share the following dishes:IMG_4696Fresh crabmeat with burrata, grilled pickle & cherry tomato
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Raw artichoke, roasted granola & quinoa saladIMG_4698

Kamut pizza, pomodoro e fior di latte mozzarellaIMG_4704

Grilled fillet of beef, white asparagus & rosemary
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Following our delicious and filling dinner, we walked up the staircase to have a wander around and plopped ourselves down in the Club Sitting Room Bar, which is the perfect spot for a night cap. The bar has a cosy and informal vibe with mid-century American interiors that reminded me of a New England yacht club. 
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We left the Club Sitting Room Bar to the sounds of the bartender shaking an iced martini, and had a look around The Voyager Club Lounge, which will be home to the Club’s Voyager Programme at South Kensington Club. Offering members an interesting program that pays tribute to the Club’s ethos of “inspiring its members to explore through reading, listening and travelling on journeys of discovery.”Voyager Room at SKC

The Voyager Club Lounge is where monthly lectures and international speakers will take place along with the opportunity to join tailor-made expeditions around the globe, such as trekking in the North Pole, foraging for food in Sweden or even piloting a helicopter! You can physically prep and train for all such adventures with the fitness instructors in the Club’s gorgeous gym.
Gym at SKC

I typically prefer to run outside rather than indoors on a treadmill, but this gym is beautifully designed with lots of natural light coming through the floor-to-ceiling windows. I loved the historic touches of the building in the spacious fitness area- it’s not every day you train with a kettle ball next to stained-glass windows!IMG_4719

The Club has three studios where yoga (heated and regular), barrecore, pilates and dance cardio classes are available in addition to private training. There are also several treatment rooms and a Turkish Hammam where you can soothe tired muscles post workout. What’s not to love about your own private spa?
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Officially opening in less than a week, South Kensington Club is a refreshing and unique London private members’ club, which is now accepting new membership. Whether you’re interested in far-flung travels, al fresco fine dining, or challenging fitness classes and pampering spa treatments, SKC have members’ every need covered.

www.southkensingtonclub.com

+44 203 006 6868

Food, Lifestyle

California Chicken Tortilla Soup

May 15, 2015

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London has some of the best restaurants with food from all over the world, but as a California native, I’ve found that good Mexican grub is hard to come by. It’s one of the first things I have to eat when I go back to Cali – apart from the obligatory In-N-Out Burger of course. In times when good tex Mex is hard to find, I turn to Pinterest for foodspiration, where I stumbled across this delicious home-made Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe. It is super easy to make with inexpensive ingredients and will impress the pants off your friends. If you’re craving a dose of healthy Mexican comfort food then I can’t recommend this dish more highly!

I tweaked the recipe slightly and included a few extra toppings I usually add to a burrito to make this soup really burst with flavour. So without further ado, here are the ingredients you will need for California Chicken Tortilla Soup. Prep time, 20 minutes. Cooking time, 4-6 hours with a slow cooker. Serves up to 6.

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3 skinless chicken breasts, cut into small bite-size pieces

2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup

1 cup salsa

2 cups frozen or fresh corn

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed. Pinto  or kidney beans make a great substitute! 

1½ cups water

1 teaspoon ground cumin

A handful of diced coriander

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Optional ‘Cali’ style toppings (recommended!): 

sour cream or crème fraîche

diced tomatoes

spring onions

cilantro

1 diced avocado

chilies

tortilla strips

I chose the recent Bank Holiday weekend to make this dish for the first time with my new slow cooker from my bestie Boo, which is a truly life changing kitchen gadget. I was worried about leaving a mini hot oven ‘on’ at home while being out of the house for a few hours, but it turns out you really cannot screw up or burn the house down with a crock pot. Hoorah! So, start with lining your slow cooker with a light layer of olive oil or butter and cut your chicken breasts into small bite size pieces. I use kitchen scissors but use whatever you find easiest. Place the chopped chicken at the bottom of your slow cooker.
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In a separate mixing bowl, add two cans of cream of chicken soup – I’m sure you can make this yourself if you want to be super organic/domestic goddess, but I just used store bought pre-made soup for ease.

IMG_4349Next up, add two cups of frozen or fresh corn to the cream of chicken soup. IMG_4350

Followed by one cup of fresh salsa. If you like a bit of ‘kick’ then feel free to sprinkle some fresh chilies in here as well.

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Now add one can of drained black beans to the mixture. IMG_4353

Your mixing bowl should suddenly be looking like the colours of the rainbow…IMG_4355Add 1 1/2 cups of water on top and give the mixture a good stir.

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Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of ground cumin on top followed by a handful of freshly diced cilantro and give the bowl one last final stir.

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Pour the soupy mixture on top of the chicken breast pieces and set your slow cooker as follows: 6 hours on low temperature or 4 hours on high. That is honestly all you have to do – I couldn’t believe it! In a few hours your kitchen will be smelling wonderful!

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Now for the final touch – the toppings. Let the soup cool for a few minutes and then add the grated cheese evenly throughout, so it slowly melts.

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Dice up the tomatoes, spring onions, and an avocado and have a pot of sour cream or crème fraîche at the ready. Add the tomatoes and spring onions to the soup.
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Using a ladle or soup spoon, fill your bowl with soup and make sure you take a good whiff – the smell of Chicken Tortilla Soup is truly out of this world! IMG_4414

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Last but not least, add some diced avocado, a good scoop of crème fraîche or sour cream and sprinkle tortilla strips and a bit more diced cilantro on top. Your soup is ready to be admired and devoured – bon appétit!
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