High up on the list of things I love to do is travel. I often get back from one vacation and immediately start looking online for flights to my next destination! Part of the fun for me is spending time researching all the places I want to visit and imagining just how it will be. There really is no better feeling than waking up in the morning with the endless possibility of visiting beautiful locations which promise delectable coffee & cuisine. In August I was lucky enough to spend my time relaxing on picture perfect beaches getting pampered with massages whilst enjoying exquisite brunches for 10 perfect days. I came back feeling totally inspired and ready to start planning my next trip to NYC. I'm really excited to be traveling in December, so if you have any tips on the best places to go, drop me a note! x
I find it hard to believe that we are already more than half way through the year and almost a month has passed since I travelled to London. Other than my shopping & cafe hopping schedule, one of the main reasons for visiting the Capital was to meet one of the most inspirational & darling girls I've ever met. Having missed the chance to meet up whilst I lived in Asia, I was super excited to meet Emma, or as she's known on Instagram @emlee7. We spent a lovely morning catching up over brunch at Hally's in Parsons Green, which being Californian inspired is very laid back with beautiful decor. In recent months I've also met two other amazing girls, both through Instagram. Whilst I'm more than aware of the many changes Instagram users are facing, I still feel like using the application has been very positive for me. It has connected me with some wonderful people who I would otherwise have never met. Initially one of the hardest challenges of moving back from Asia was the fact I really missed my friends. So the fact that the application still enables me to connect with so many like minded individuals in this country is a complete blessing. Sharing photos and experiences with people on a global level has always been something which has interested me. Hopefully I will get the chance to meet more of you in the near future!
I guess it's fair to say I'm one of those people who loves creating things. When I first got into blogging I was always in admiration of people who could put together a perfect flat lay. As it turns out one of my best friends is really talented at styling & I was lucky enough to learn a lot through him. Now whenever I have free time, I like to play around with my beauty products, magazines, or even my bags, clothes and shoes.
One of the main things I look for when I'm styling is natural light. Ideally I like to do photography shoots in the morning & always in a room with big windows & lots of light coming in. I also like to work with certain materials. One of my favorites is marble but seeing as I don't have a marble table at home, I tend to use natural & light coloured backgrounds. To shoot I use either my Fuji X-A1 or Iphone 6s. These days the quality of phone cameras is so much better, it's nice to have the option of working with 2 devices.
In regards to the products to use in your flat lay, I think it depends a lot on your personal taste. I tend to lean towards simple things & I'm a sucker for beautiful packaging! Everyone is different though & it's always nice to see what other people use in their flat lays to get some inspiration. If you are new to styling it can be fun to play around with different compositions and products to see whether you prefer less in the frame or perhaps a more crowded feel. Mostly I like objects to line up, giving an overall tidy effect. Working with products such as flowers can really help add a level of natural beauty to the shots. I also enjoy working with coffee and other food. I tend to think as long as the object is visually appealing from a top angle, it can be used in a flat lay photo.
The best tip I can probably offer anyone who is new to this is to not to give up. If you don't create the perfect flat lay the first few times you try, keep trying! I can't say I'm naturally creative but I have always appreciated beautiful things. I think as long as you have a genuine passion for something it's possible to achieve your goals. I have so much fun on the weekend playing around with various compositions. I hope sharing this will offer a small insight into one of my favorite pastimes.
There is always something special about visiting Paris. This was my 5th trip to the City and easily one of the best. If you are only spending a few days, one of the best ways to get around is with Uber. As you drive through the beautiful Parisian streets, simply glancing outside takes you into a whole other world. There is no doubt that Paris is magical and it definitely holds a special place in my heart. As with all my trips, I always make a shortlist of must see places. At the very top of my list was Carette in Trocadero. From there you can immerse yourself into the real Parisian cafe scene. Don't forget to try their amazing selection of food & drinks, the macarons (not pictured) were some of the best I have tried. Whenever I travel I love nothing more than to wake up early in the morning & prepare for the day ahead. Having never visited Palais Royal, it was high on my list of places to see. Almost as soon as I stepped inside the grounds, I was in awe of the sheer beauty of the 17th century architecture and well manicured gardens. Whilst there, I stopped by at the famous Cafe kitsune to enjoy a much needed latte.
Walking through the streets of Paris it's hard not to stop in your tracks and photograph everything in sight! I'm always amazed at just how beautiful each area is and wished I could spend more time looking inside all the lovely boutiques we passed. It's such a blessing to have spent 3 wonderful days in the City soaking up the Chic European scene. I was so thankful to have chosen another perfect apartment through Airbnb. It really did feel like a home away from home, which is awfully comforting when you travel. Leaving such a beautiful City is never easy but the memories will definitely live on. So au revoir for now Paris! until the next time...
There's always something exciting about going to London. Now that I have officially moved back to the UK I want to spend as much time as possible in the Capital. I love checking out the coffee scene in Cities I travel to & couldn't wait to see what London had to offer. I spent 3 perfect days wandering around, shopping, drinking coffee and catching up with friends and family.
In Asia I got so used to booking hotels when I was travelling, over here I decided to give Airbnb a go. I really like the fact that rather than feeling like a tourist, you get to live more like a local. I was so lucky with my choice, which turned out to be exactly what I was looking for, modern & close to some of my favorite boroughs. Waking up in a morning and knowing that good coffee is close by is also a big plus! I had a particuarly amazing experience at Kaffeine which is really close to Oxford Circus. The place has such a cool vibe with exceptional coffee and food. One of the things I most appreciate about being back in the Western hemisphere is having proper seasons. So it was lovely to spend time walking around Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove enjoying the cool but sunny day. It's such a beautiful part of the City which I genuinely adore. It goes without saying that no trip I make would feel right without a little retail therapy! Some of my favorites when in London are Liberty of London which is the one of the most beautiful stores I've been to & Selfridges where you can always find something to buy. After such a perfect weekend I feel refreshed and ready to research for my upcoming trip to Paris!
January 2016 marked the beginning of some big changes for me. After having lived in Indonesia for 4 years, I finally made the move back to the UK. Of course there are many things which I will miss, mainly my friends and the availability of such amazing food. I am however glad to be back in Europe so I can explore some of the things which I have been missing. I didn't waste much time getting back into one of my favorite pastimes which if you follow my Instagram you will know is exploring coffee shops. I have been splitting my time between Manchester & Leeds & luckily I have found that the scene in the UK has really grown since the last time I lived here. One of the best places I have tried is Takk Coffee House in Manchester's Northern Quarter. There is a lot to be said for a place where you receive a warm welcome . They also make great latte and even more delicious brunch, which unfortunately I did not take a photo of because we were so hungry. Over in Leeds I tend to switch between 2 places, one of which is La Bottega Milanese, an Italian coffee shop who have 2 branches in the City. Their croissants are delightful and I'm also a fan of the decor in both outlets. The latte I tried there was not as strong as I usually like, but I would still say it's worth checking them out as their flat white was amazing. The other place which really stands out in Leeds is Laynes Espresso which is conveniently located close to Leeds Train Station. Their latte is probably the best I have tried in Leeds so far.
Besides drinking coffee I have been making the most of the shopping over here. One of my favorite labels of the moment is Cos Stores. I simply love the fact that they always have so many options in monochrome. It's been so good to have access to all the brands which were not readily available in Indonesia. I was beyond happy when I finally managed to get hold of a pair of Stan Smith shoes! They are such a welcome addition to my wardrobe.
Last week I ventured down to London & had an absolute blast! I can't believe how much I missed it and only wished I had travelled with a friend so I could have had someone to shoot my daily outfits. I did however get chance to try some cafes and restaurants which I will update in my next post.
They say home is where the heart is. If thats true then I can say I left my heart in Hong Kong. Ever since the first time I I touched down in this vibrant City I always feel like there is something more to go back for. This was my forth trip and I found that December was one of the best times to visit. It's perfect for walking around and soaking up the atmosphere without the humidity which you can experience in other months. I usually like to stay in the Sheung Wan area as so many of the cafes and restaurants I enjoy visiting are located there. Talking of cafes, I always love to stop off at The Cupping Room Wan Chai at least once. Their coffee is so velvety smooth and somewhat addictive, if you are a fan of coffee like me. No trip to Hong Kong would be complete without taking a trip to the habour and taking the Star Ferry across the bay, which for only a few $HK is totally worth it. I find it to be breathtakingly beautiful both during the day and night. Hong Kong did not earn it's reputation of being a world class City for nothing. One thing I missed out on was getting a good shot of the amazing dim sum which is so readily available and fabulously delicious there. I'm almost certain I will visit Hong Kong again in 2016, so if you have any recommendations, please do let me know!
Bali is a world away from Indonesia's capital City Jakarta. So it’s such a blessing to have such a diverse and interesting place to escape to which is relatively close by. Although it’s only a short distance from Jakarta, it somehow feels like you have been transported to a different country. This trip we spent fun filled days revisiting some of our favorite haunts and catching up with friends. It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place to spend November. Theres an abundance of happening cafes on the Island, but those which impressed us the most were Sisterfields, Corner House & Petitenget Restaurant. It’s just so refreshing to enjoy expertly brewed lattes on a daily basis, especially in such wonderfully relaxed settings. Aside from the cafes, we spent time beach hopping, from the tranquil shores of Nusa Dua to the ever popular beach club Potato Head. We were also lucky enough to be invited to Metis, which specializes in French cuisine. One of the most noteworthy dishes we tried there was the Tuna Carpaccio, which was perfectly balanced making it excellent choice for a light lunch. It would be near impossible not to feel impressed by the restaurants beautiful surroundings which are set in lush gardens offering something quite unique which can only be found in Bali. Its no secret that Bali is famous for it’s spas. The one which really stood out this trip the very hip Rob Peetoom salon in Seminyak. There you can relax whilst enjoying the serenity and view of the paddy fields whilst having your treatment. Balinese hospitality, great food, picture perfect sunsets and endless blue skies just about sums up our trip. It’s hard not to miss this magical island. We hope our blog post will provide you with a little inspiration when visiting the Island.
Earlier this week we were lucky enough to be invited to one of my favorite restaurants in Jakarta. There were a few reasons I was excited about this. Firstly because I am a big fan of their delicious cuisine and secondly I was looking forward to trying their Tea Time menu which is only available at MonViet Setiabudi. You may have heard through the grapevine that MonViet is one of the best, if not the best Vietnamese restaurant in town and in my opinion the rumors are totally true.
The owner Hai and his sister Loan are both extremely passionate about bringing authentic Vietnamese cuisine to Indonesia. Their second and already busy branch, opened up in Setiabudi Mall, Kuningan last year & I’m quite certain that its a delight to those working in the area.
While we caught up with Hai, he explained that MonViet is now serving a new Tea Time menu which is only available at the Setiabudi restaurant between 3pm-8pm on weekdays. Actually I am not as familiar with Vietnamese cuisine as I would like to be and have to admit that I have never tried the yummy dishes which were brought to our table. I can best describe the menu as a variety of Vietnamese dumplings, which are not only beautifully presented but also mouthwateringly good.
Lucky was more familiar with the dishes having travelled to Vietnam on a number of occasions. I was really interested to know from his side how they compared with those in Vietnam. First of all we tried the Banh Beo which is basically a rice cake accompanied by fish sauce. This was one of our favorites, delightfully fresh, light and altogether delicious. From the same menu we were given the Banh Duc which is a different style of rice cake. The texture is somewhat softer similar to silky tofu. Once again we found these to be really fresh and yummy.
The great thing about eating this kind of Vietnamese food is that it is perfect for sharing. I would say that its an ideal to order as a starter because its so incredibly light. My first impression of these tapas style rice dishes was that they were really good. Lucky admitted they were even better than some he had tried in Vietnam itself.
Next up we tried the Bahn It Tran, which is a sticky rice ball or Vietnamese dumpling containing chicken and mung bean.This is a very traditional dish which can be found in Vietnam. When I tasted it I somehow felt like I was transported to a Vietnamese home, so authentic was the taste. That is the key to everything at this restaurant. All the dishes you try are taken from the family recipe, which has been passed down from generation to generation. The result is that you feel like you are eating a delicious home cooked meal.
The last thing we tried from the new menu was the Banh Boc Loc Tran. This was another dish we really loved. Vietnamese dumplings with a delicious filling of shrimp and chicken. Incredibly tasty for such small bites.
There are always a few dishes which stand when you visit a favorite restaurant. Vietnam is of course famous for its noodles,
even those of you who may not familiar with the cuisine have probably heard of Vietnamese Pho. I particularly love Loan’s family recipe of Bun Cha Ca, dory fish cake soup which is fragrant, well spiced and so satisfying. As many times as I order this dish I never get tired of the comforting feeling I get when I eat it.
I must admit we were both feeling quite full but a trip to Monviet wouldn’t be complete without having my favorite Bahn Mi Bo Nuong Sa. From the very moment I tried this baguette I was totally blow away at just how great it tasted. The beef is marinated and infused with lemongrass, the baguette is both crispy and fresh. There is nothing more I could have asked for to complete my experience at this amazing restaurant. So if you are looking for authenticity and food that will make you feel happy, what are you waiting for!
I would like to say a special thanks to Hai and Loan for inviting us and sharing the Monviet story with us. We really cannot wait to come back again :-)
Setiabudi One Ground Floor
Jl. HR Rasuna Said
There are only a few Cities that come to mind when I think of places I wished I could be. Paris is one of my favorites for sure. But seeing as I’m thousands of miles away from Europe, it’s always great to find something closer to home. A few weeks ago Lucky and I visited Liberte French Brasserie which is located inside of the Galeries La Fayette Department store at Pacific Place. I must admit I fell in love with the chic decor as soon as we stepped inside!
The cafe boasts views across SCBD which I absolutely love because as well as being beautiful it's the ideal environment for taking photos. It is really easy to spend a few hours here catching up with friends over the latest goings on in the City. Liberte just seems perfect for enjoying your favorite coffee and pastry. I’m definitely a coffee addict and usually order an Americano to start my day as I prefer a strong blend of coffee. Lucky opted for the Cappuccino which tends to be lighter and smoother in comparison.
We were also given the High Tea menu to try, which included one drink (coffee or tea) a pizza and an assortment of sweet canapés. The Americano and Almond Croissant were the first to arrive and I couldn’t wait to see if I was going to be able to add this place to my list of go-to cafes. My first impressions of the coffee was it that it was quite strong. As I like strong coffee it was fine for me if not slightly bitter. The Almond Croissant balanced the bitter taste of the coffee perfectly and proved to be a complete taste sensation. I would go as far to say as this was one of the best croissants I have tried in the City. The pastry was buttery and fresh with the almond paste providing just the right amount of sweet. When it came to the Cappuccino though, Lucky and I both agreed that it probably needed to be a little stronger. A mix between the Americano and Cappucino would have been perfect.
I have to say I was already impressed with the experience so far and we still had to try the High Tea Package. I am a big fan of thin crust pizza and the one we tasted here was really good. We added some chili flakes to ours for some extra spice which I found really complimented the pizza. It’s usually the case that I love small cakes and desserts but I have to say I was not terribly impressed with the ones I tried here. I think maybe it was because the croissant had wowed us so much we expected the same from the tarts.
On the whole we had a delightful afternoon and I am happy that we found another great place to spend a few hours. Thank you to Liberte for the kind invitation and wonderful hospitality. I’m quite sure we will see you again soon!
Food 7.5 - 10
Ambience - 9 - 10
Service 8 - 10
Text - Alba Leader
Photos - Lucky Oetama
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Liberte French Brassie Jakarta
Galeries Lafayette 2nd Fl
Pacific Place Mall, SCBD
Jl. Jendral Sudirman Kav. 52-53
021 - 5797 3425
This blog contains snapshots from our cafe hopping meet ups and other places we visit. We are 2 friends who both love City life, style and social media. You can also connect with us through Instagram which we update daily.