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A long time ago now, three wise and sassy ladies made an almighty pilgrimage towards the bustling metropolis of London following the smell of bacon, cheese and brioche.  They swapped camels for the tube, sumptuous cloaks for jeans and battled heavy crowds to pay homage to a newly released burger.  Crowded around a table they stared at what was promised to be the saviour to their hunger.  After taking photos which were later destined to be Insta-hits, they lifted up the precious bundle and cooed in awe before taking a massive bite.

Ohhhh yes, me and my fellow burger fiends celebrated Cheesemas this year in the spirit of all things meaty.  If you’re not familiar with this new term, Byron Burger release a particularly cheesy burger every year with this years offering being the Holy Cheesemas with four different kinds of cheese – mature Cheddar, American, Monterey Jack and Red Leicester – as well as bacon, red onion, pickles and Cheesemas sauce.  Did I mention the two patties?  

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Now, I’m not going to lie to you, the Holy Cheesemas is not the best burger I have ever had the pleasure to eat, but it is pretty darn good.  The meat is cooked to a pink medium rare (unless you ask otherwise) and the bun maintains its integrity under the weight of the filling which is always good, but the patties could do with a more something, something, you know what I mean?  Well, I’m assuming you do anyway.

Aside from our burgers, we went all out and ordered chips, courgette fries and mac n’ cheese as well as two blue cheese dips to finish the cheese board of dairy goodness available.  I’m a big fan of courgette fries because I like to pretend to myself that they’re healthier than normal chips – they probably aren’t – and the Byron ones are pretty great as they aren’t too heavily battered.

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We left Bryon with stomachs and hearts full, ready to spread the word of the burger gospel.

Rejoice!  Christmas may be gone, but Cheesemas is still here.

Is there anything better than diving into a plate of food, hands first and coming out with ketchup smeered on your cheek?    While I love going to restaurants where you’re presented with a plethora of cutlery and plates of food which could win the Turner prize, getting back to basics just feels so right.  For me, the messier the meal, the more I enjoy it so when I realised that there was a Dirty Burger shack in Vauxhall which is only a couple of stops away from my flat, I just had to go.  

P1020174After a day at work, the hunger was real, so we all decided to go for the special burg which not only had a pattie, but also had pulled pork, cheese, pickles and BBQ sauce slathered on it.  Are you dribbling yet…?  Because I am. 

Now, Dirty Burgers live up to their name and come hot, sweaty and juicy which doesn’t make for the most attractive of photos but believe me, this was special.  We all made noises which are usually relegated to the bedroom when unwrapping our meaty packages.

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Crinkle chips and onion fries accompanied our feast

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Look guys, I never said it was going to be pretty

So dirty it’s almost criminal, these burgers are undeniably great and the added bonus of pulled pork was a bit of a game changer in my eyes.  Their crinkle chips are crispy and airy, just how I like a thick chip while Rachel couldn’t stop raving about the onion fries which came with a heavy golden brown batter.  Dirty Burger have four locations over London (and 1 in America) so you’re never too far from getting your hands dirty.  Check out their website here and while you’re aimlessly surfing the tinternet in search of #burgerporn, how about checking about the website for Suitcase magazine which I’m interning at until the end of December here!

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After a short but sweet trip to London a couple of weeks ago, I jumped on a flight to Tampa, Florida for a little R&R with the parents.  My family and I have been to Florida quite a few times over the years, as well as the frequent trips to Disney World – I last went when I was 19 and I’m itching to go again – we’ve travelled South many times to scope out beaches, eat our weight in seafood and keep watch for the elusive dolphins that dip and dive below the waves.

While we hadn’t been to Naples since I was 4, our last trip was very memorable to me as it ended up with the family floating in a car in the aftermath of a tropical storm, an incident which I only have fond memories of weirdly enough.  As my dad is a creature of habit, we returned to the same hotel on the shoreline of Naples beach and spent 10 days relaxing in the scorching hot sun, only to be moved off our sun beds by the occasional thunder storm.

While this was definitely a relaxing holiday, I still had my dissertation to focus on so spent late afternoons and evenings concentrating on my work in my room while wrapped in a hotel dressing gown munching on pillow chocolates.  The Suite Life.  

I didn’t really take too many photos as my camera managed to conk out half way through the holiday and also, it would have just been a whole camera stream of hot dog/legs by the pool and who really needs those anyway?!  So I thought I’d just put this one of the beautiful sunset on here and you can check out a few more on my Instagram.

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As well as sunbathing, I ate oysters by the bucketload, had a hot stone massage, got soaked a couple of times by the torrential downpours that anyone who has visited the State will be familiar with, peered over fences into some of Naples most outrageously huge homes, got some amazing bargains at Nordstroms, watched some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen and even bumped into an old friend from travelling!

One of the best things about the holiday was undoubtedly the location of the hotel.  Perched on Naples beach which goes on for as long as the eye can see, its the perfect place for a bit of dolphin spotting.  I took to getting my feet wet and swimming in the warm water out to a little sandbank everyday where I quite regularly saw the tell tale fins of a few Flippers as they effortlessly swam past.  As fun as it is to go to Seaworld, (well until you’ve watched Blackfish anyway) its always more enchanting to see animals in the wild where their appearance isn’t guaranteed.  Here our finned friends have a large expanse to wander over rather than just a minute pool  which they’re confined to day in and day out.  While I managed to spot quite a few dolphins, my dad wasn’t so lucky and even though he tried, he kept missing them, which I think is just another excuse to go back to our little slice of heaven in Florida, perhaps with a little visit to our old friends Mickey and Minnie next time as well…

I think this holiday has been one of the best and while I now have returned to the real world, atleast I’m be sporting a tan!

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Until recently I had barely ever travelled south of the river in London.  Soho was just about as adventorous as it got when I visited the capital, but now with friends planting their feet and considerable wardrobes all over the city, I’ve got more of an excuse to venture to new ground.  My first stop on this new journey was the last on the Victoria line: Brixton.

Brixton is a bit of a mish mash of everything.  Semi-recently adopted by young professionals and hipsters, the area has gone through an Instagram worthy regeneration.  The best part of this make over is without a doubt the famous Brixton Village where you can feast on food that has Londoners making the pilgrimage over the river.

While I was only staying for one night in the capitol, I managed to make two trips to the Village for dinner and brunch, so here it goes…

After finding out some very exciting news there was cause to celebrate, so Natasha, Cris, Jess and I headed over to the market where we settled to eating some Asian fare at Happy Dumpling.  Confused and a little bit tired, we all ended up over-ordering, a blessing in disguise which just meant loosening our belts and diving in to plates overflowing with noodles, deep fried prawns, spinach in a garlic sauce and prawn toast.

My two favourites?  The prawn lucky bags which I ordered packed a punch in the spice department while the spinach in garlic sauce would give anyone a Popeye moment.

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After heading back to their flat and falling asleep watching re-runs of the Rachel Zoe Project in bed with Jess, we awoke the next morning, craving eggs.  

We headed to Wild Caper, a deli I’d read about on The Londoner’s blog and one which boasted about its short but sweet brunch menu next to the free bread and oil samples (I ate three #sorrynotsorry).

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eggscellent

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While the eggs were perhaps left to poach for a smidgen too long, these eggs was egg-actly what we needed.  PUNNY.

If I learnt anything in New York, it was that brunch cannot be done properly without a Bloody Mary by ones side!  As a relative newbie to the Bloody Mary game, I can’t comment too much so I’ll just let you guys tell me whether WIld Caper do it right!

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Rob and Margaret, this one is for you!

With bellies full, we wandered around the market picking up presents for our newly engaged friends, Sarah and Nick (!!!!) and window shopping where I saw these rather strapping lads larking around…

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I do love a Panda in a monk strap…

After tearing ourselves away from our prospective (panda) princes, we headed into a shop where the most remarkable thing happened.  You see, I have an incredible knack for scaring kids.  I don’t know why, but they just don’t seem to like me.  I’ll wave, smile and make funny faces in an endeavour to make friends, but my eager attempts are usually met with disdain and sometimes even hysterical tears.  So when a little girl started chatting away excitedly to both Jess and I in one of the shops, we ended up staying for a half hour and playing make believe…it all got a little weird, so I’ll just leave you with this image of Jess and I engaging in a cowboy inspired photoshoot…

Wheres your favourite place to go in Brixton Village?

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So by now, we all know I went to New York last month – god when will I stop talking about it – and while wandering around the city, I noticed an abundance of street art.  I’d never really been intrigued to go round and find street art in other cities before, but I just got a little bit obsessed with tracking down the art which I’d seen on my Instagram feed.

Heres just a little photo diary of what I found and where abouts (if I can remember…):

P1010215 P1010220 P1010234 P1010254 The above works of art can be seen from the High Line (they’ve already featured on my post on the High Line which you can seeeee here!)  Next up, I spotted these two master pieces after chowing down at Katz Deli while I can’t find the origins of the first one, the second one which is rather Banksy-esque is actually by Bristolian street artist, Nick Walker.  Its a bit crap that its been painted over by others, but if you want to see the piece in all its glory, check here.

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Close by – relatively so anyway -on Houston Street is a wall which has come to embody the street art movement.  First a site for illegal graffiti artists to flex their artistic muscles, the space is now curated by Jeffrey Deitch.  The wall draws style bloggers, photographers and models like moths to a flame and we saw 3 separate shoots happening all within feet of each other, using the mural as a backdrop.  The artist featured while I was in the Big Apple was COPE2 who is known for his bubble tags – a homage to the old graffiti which you inevitably pass on just about every train in England.

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If you’re really looking to have a gander at some al fresco art, then Brooklyn is the place you want to be.  The area just attracts the creative types so every wall has been recommissioned for art with a message, art with no message and art with a undiscernable message which just looks quite nice.  

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If you’ve been perusing Instagram as much as me, then you’ll know that Bradley Theodore is the BNOC right now in New York street art terms.  Brad’s – I’d like to think we’re on first name terms – best known piece is perhaps the massive portrait of a loved up Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour, which I could not for the life of me find, I was a tiny bit gutted.  BUT, we did stumble upon these beauties:

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Controversial photographer and possible sex pest, Terry Richardson has been re-imagined as a piece of one dimensional art – perhaps a less harmless version of the real life man.

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Celebrated editor and journalist, Diane Vreeland

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The amazing Grace Coddington – owner of fashions most incredible barnet, lover of cats, an enigma and a creative.  Probably my favourite person.  If you’ve never heard of her then read her beautiful book and watch The September Issue where she spectacularly outshines Wintour.

 Let me know if you have any favourites!

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Guernsey looks so pretty when its sunny.  

I know everywhere looks much better when you’ve had a natural shot of Vitamin D and I may be bias, but Guernsey just seems to look better than the rest (Jersey, I’m looking at you).  The flowers bloom, the sea turns a Mediterranean shade of blue and the birds all sing a little bit louder.  It just becomes a little bit of heaven in the English Channel.

While I’m predominantly back home under the pretence of working on my dissertations literature review, I can’t help but want to explore when the sky is blue and there isn’t a cloud in sight.  With two dogs in tow, my mum and I headed to Jerbourg for a cliff walk.  With a view over both Herm and Sark on a clear day, the cliffs on the south east side of the island are spectacular and we weren’t surprised to see other islanders and tourists sunning themselves while enjoying an ice cream at the car park kiosk where we started our walk.

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None of these photos are edited, Guernsey is just really this great (I may be bias)

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As we meandered around the coast line it struck me how lucky I am to have a place so beautiful to call home.  I think most people who have grown up on Guernsey have at one time or another, cursed the day they were born on the tiny island.  A small island community can be suffocating at times and you only have to glance at Guernsey eBay to see this frustration in action – simultaneously hilarious and slightly worrying, besides all the moaning, I once saw someone trying to sell an old toilet brush!?  But, after heading off to University and living in my fair share of student dives with little more than a view over the bins for the last 4 years, I find that I’ve developed a heightened appreciation for all things Guernsey.

One of those little bits of my little island paradise which I can’t help but love is Moulin Huet, a bay which is often forgotten even by those who live on the island.  While the beach is great and is rarely jam packed, the best thing about it is the tearoom which you’ll pass on your way down to the blue seas.

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Run by the lovely, Susanna, Moulin Huet tearooms is a cake lovers heaven with homemade treats made by Susanna and her mum every day.  After our walk, I managed to exercise some great restraint and ordered a Guernsey crab sandwich with a chilli and ginger jam and coriander while my mum jumped right in with the fruit scone complete with jam and cream.

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I wouldn’t usually go for crab but this was so tasty I ordered it again the next time I went a few days later.  I’d love to recreate the chilli and ginger jam at home so I can enjoy this more while at Uni!  After finishing up my sandwich I soon became rather jealous of my mums scone and after having a nibble, my resolve broke and I ordered one for myself.

Moulin Huet tearooms is just about as idyllic as they come and these scones are the best I have ever tasted (I’m craving one as I write this) so if you’re on island – or not – make the trip down now for a little taste of heaven while the sun is still shining!  You will not regret it.  

Heres a little extra treat for all you people sat at your desks working, writing, procrastinating whatever you’re doing, just enjoy this:

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After going to the MET museum, my mum and I spent the rest of the day lost in Central Park.  I can tell you firsthand, that the streets of New York do not make you feel brand new, but rather the opposite after walking around all day.  How dare you lie to me Alicia Keys.  

The only cure for sore feet and the bitter feeling of betrayal?  A cupcake from Magnolia’s Bakery of course.

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After recharging our batteries with a sugary sweet treat, we headed to the Meatpacking District for drinks at the The Standard hotel.  As I’ve mentioned before, the Standard is now renowned for being the location of Solange and Jay-Z’s now infamous fight and I was on a mission to find out what really happened in that lift.  While from the outside, The Standard looks pretty, well…standard, resembling a glassy eyed council block, the inside is the real tour de force with the kind of sleek interiors which attracts models, ‘yes’ men and wayward artistes among the odd celebrity.

The bar at the top of The Standard is aptly named…The Top of The Standard.  Revolutionary branding.  The dress code depends less on what you’re wearing and more on who you are it seems, with some unlucky punters being turned away for wearing trainers, while others stroll through the golden gates with their dirty Converse trailing frayed laces.  Maybe its time to polish off the ‘don’t you know who I am’ gaff, just incase.

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Must have used a bit too much fake tan, looking a bit orange…

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Once inside – if you make it inside – you’re bathed in an orange light which evidently attracts the beautiful, the mildly famous and the grossly surgically enhanced like moths to the flame.  While I may not be any of the above, its hard to deny that the bar has a vibe which buzzes of the here and now.

When we arrived, it was heaving so the circular bar was surrounded by a two-deep layer of thirsty patrons waiting for the agonisingly slow barmen to pour their martini.  This is the kind of place where its best to order two rounds in one if you’ve got the gusto and the wallet for it. While the wait may be almost criminal, the measures are generous – Americans don’t use single or double measures apparently – so you get more ‘tini for your dolla’ than you would at an English bar of the same calibre.  Pros and cons, people.  

Of course, while the main draw of a bar is usually its alcohol and the main drawback its toilets, the Top of The Standard marches to a different beat with views and toilets which are both as fabulous as the other.  The floor to ceiling windows allow for a great view over to New Jersey and Manhattan and we were lucky enough to witness the city that never sleeps moving into the dark restless hours of the night.

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Toilefie? No, that doesn’t work…

P1010491The view from the loo

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These same floor to ceiling windows are also what have made the toilets such a trending topic.  You can literally sit on the throne and continue to cast an eye over your kingdom.  While they became notorious at first, with office blocks opposite catching an eyeful every time someone answered the call of nature, a handy net curtain has now been erected to preserve your modesty, not so fun in my eyes.  

So, why did Solange and Jay-Z’s night end in fistie cuffs after their trip to The Standard?  Well, Jay-Z’s obvious penchant for strawberry daiquiri’s, ordered one at a time resulted in Solange missing a re-run of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’s finale  (her favourite show, obvs) and matters only got worse when an unfortunate incident in a toilet led to Solange baring her soul (strategic word replacement there) to this side of lower Manhattan before a psychedelic art installation playing on the TVs in the lifts caused her to spin out in a rage fuelled by strongly mixed cocktails.  No wonder Beyonce and Jay-Z’s statement was so vague.  

I think I’ve accidentally made this review a bit scathing, so don’t be perturbed, I’ve read nothing but good things about the food and hotel experience of staying at The Standard and while The Top of The Standard has great toilets and even greater views most of us know that this package comes with the kind of pretentiousness that is inherent in a place that has been tipped as a place to be seen, so we kind of asked for it.  In fact, the people watching is great and the experience wouldn’t be the same if it was just a load of old codgers ordering lager at the bar really would it?

We ended our first full day in New York with a stroll around Soho, a trip to Grand Central Station and a dinner at a Bobby Van’s where I ate Tuna Tartar and steak.  The food at Bobby Van’s was good, but their service leaves much to be desired, a characteristic of many New York steak restaurants.

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I also wore this cheeky little number which just happens to be all Topshop –  embarrassing.  I love this strapless black jumpsuit (which has now come out in a blush pink colour which I’m lusting over) while this blazer comes from a co-ord suit which I wore to the theatre but didn’t manage to get a photo of!

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Anyway, on to the second day.  We decided to walk up to the Rockefeller centre from our hotel which just happened to be in Times Square.

Times Square is hectic 24/7 but with subway stations, theatres and food all at your doorstep it is an ideal spot for anyone to stay for a short amount of time…and did I mention that theres a Sephora just around the corner as well.  

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The Rockefeller centre is located in midtown Manhattan and refers to a collection of buildings including the NBC studios, Radio City Music Hall and the GE building, which the Top of the Rock observation deck sits on top of.

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Is this even the building we went up…I’m not even sure anymore…

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The view at the Top of the Rock is incredible; the 360 degree views mean you can observe the Empire State proudly towering over the buildings around it in the middle of Manhattan to the south of the Rockefeller Centre and Central Park dominating the view to the north, whilst also surveying the cars and people below and scouring the cities rooftops for gardens, pools and workmen going about their daily business.  We spotted a few people scaling up and down the sides of buildings washing the windows – a thought which gives me vertigo even thinking about it now.

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Dungarees – American Apparel / Top – Topshop / Bag – 3.1 Phillip Lim 

I have been looking for the perfect pair of long leg dungarees for months and I finally found them while away!  In the past few months, I’ve ordered numerous pairs from both ASOS and Topshop and umm-ed and ahh-ed for weeks before sending each pair back.  I even announced that I’d given up on my fruitless search several times, much to my mothers relief, but in the end I stumbled across the holy grail of all dungarees in American Apparel in Soho.  I love the zip detail at the top – which actually ended up being most handy – and the tapered legs which I rolled up a couple of times to give a more relaxed aesthetic, plus they’re super comfy and make you feel like a 5 year old again; I’ll be wearing these all year round now.  If you’re interested in trying these babies out for yourself, I’d advise ordering a size beneath what you usually do unless you want a very baggy look, I’m usually a medium but had to buy a small as I didn’t want to look like an off-duty painter.

I’m currently sat in my bed at Newcastle, flicking between blogging, watching the new season of Orange is the New Black, begrudgingly doing reading for my dissertation and looking through photos of my trip to New York.  Now that is multi-tasking.  I’ve just booked a trip home for a few days, so I’m praying that the weather will be sunny so I can sit by the pool to make the dull, monotonous task of reading a much more enjoyable task!

I’ll be blogging about my jaunt around Central Park and a trip to the MET in the next few days, so keep your eyes peeled for more soon!

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I last left you at the bottom of the High Line with a rumbling belly, waiting for a proper New York lunch.  

After making a quick pit stop at Washington Square Park, we continued on our special pilgrimage towards East Houston praying for a taste of what has been described as “the best pastrami on earth”.  Now from my personal experience, the UK is just not that big on pastrami.  We prefer our sandwich meats roasted, seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper and shoved between two pieces of bread but let me tell you, we’ve got a lesson or two in sandwich making to learn.  

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Katz Deli has been plating up Reubens like no other for the last 126 years, now serving up to 1000 punters a day.  This unassuming Jewish Deli  has been consistently hailed as making not only the best pastrami on earth, but also some of the best sandwiches in America.  It’s kind of a big deal.  

I’d been itching to visit Katz ever since I’d watched Adam Richman – from Man v. Food, duhhh – chow down on some of their deli classics but you may also recognise the interior from a scene in When Harry Met Sally where Sally, errr….well you know she puts on a show by faking it…I’ll have what shes having.  

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Katz’s menu caters to just about everyone with breakfast classics, soups, salads and various other sandwiches on offer as well as these huge, juicy pickles!  My order?  Do you even have to ask?  The pastrami reuben.  Just look at it!

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Lashings of hand carved hot pastrami, smothered in swiss cheese, topped with a healthy handful of sauerkraut and Russian dressing, between two perfectly soft pieces of rye bread.  This isn’t just any sandwich, this is a Katz’s Deli sandwich.  

The pastrami is sweet, spicy and so so succulent it literally melts in your mouth.  The sauerkraut isn’t too acidic and the Russian dressing adds a bit more spice to the mix – all the elements blend together to make the most perfect sandwich.  I can definitely understand why Katz has such a huge cult following and if I lived nearby I’d probably be visiting every other week to the detriment of my waist line.

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While its nice to visit posh restaurants in big cities, sometimes you get a more authentic experience if you spend a bit of time scoping out where the locals return to time after time.  The menu might not be cultivated by internationally renowned chefs or the interior designed by the latest architect, but you can’t argue with the taste of their hearty sandwiches.  If I had to mark them out of 5?  I’d give them 6.  

 

If you’re in New York, you’d be a fool not to head to Katz.

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Last week I had a sweet but short taste of freedom from deadlines and dissertations.  After a tough month of group projects and continuous essay writing, my brain was fried and my days were blurring into one; I was in dire need of a change in location.  So, of course the only thing to do was to hop across the pond for a bit of trans-Atlantic fun with the parentals in New York, New York! 

As a girl of a certain age, New York isn’t just a tourist destination but an aspiration; at one point or another most girls have wistfully watched an episode of Sex & the City – or the first film, not the second – vouching that one day they will live there in a generously sized apartment with rent control, stomp those streets in Manolo’s and fall in love with a sharply dressed banker who may or may not be named Big…

While GIRLS has – quite appropriately – taken some of the shine off the varnish that Sex & the City glossed (rents are sky high, expensive clothes are still expensive and men are…well, still men) New York is still the pinnacle of cool and with a brother now living in the city, there was no better time to visit.

Having visited twice before, my parents and I were in no rush to go up the Empire State or see the Lady of Liberty up close so our first morning got off to a more relaxed start.  My parents had walked the High Line the last time they were in NY in November, however, unlucky for them they got absolutely drenched in a down pour, but lucky for us the weather this time was fare more conducive to a leisurely walk downtown to take in the sights and sounds of the city.

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The High Line is built upon an elevated rail line which was transformed into a public space after locals and the Friends of the High Line organisation fended off the threat of demolition.  Situated on Manhattan’s West Side, the High Line runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to the West 34th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenue with beautifully maintained lawns, beds of greenery and art installations popping up along the old rail way lines.  Not only that, but it happens to be a great location for people watching and fantasty real estate window shopping; two of my favourite pastimes.  

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Dress – ASOS / Sliders – Topshop / Jacket – Zara (old) / Bag – 3.1 Phillip Lim / Necklace – Zara 

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Colourful street art pops up all along the stretch of rail way, with bare walls turning into huge art canvases to be enjoyed by those simply walking by…
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This was probably my favourite part of the High Line; a little slice of heaven for any keen people watcher.  If I lived near by I’d spend my days off taking up residency on the stairs, book in hand, friends in tow, phone left at home just watching the world go by.

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The Standard Hotel – the sight of the recent heavy weight boxing match between Jay Z and Solange

The High Line does has food vendors selling snacks and while I was tempted, my parents and I had bigger fish to fry when it came to lunchtime…more on that later…

The High Line is one of New York’s not-so-hidden gems.  While perched only a few feet above the city that never sleeps, serenity pervades along the stretch with the constant sirens of the emergency services and the honks of the impatient taxis below muted among the greenery.  It gives you a little insight into the cities own brand of organised chaos, its hidden crevices and the artistic flare which flows freely throughout the streets and avenues of the worlds most famous metropolis.

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