Franco Manca, Oxford pizza and review

Franco Manca Oxford REVIEW

Oxford is the latest city to be blessed with a shiny new Franco Manca restaurant. If you have not heard of Franco Manca yet, then you are in for a treat. If you have heard of Franco Manca and have already been lucky enough to dine there, I know that you are head-over-heels anyway.

Franca Manca appeals for two reasons – it is affordable, but most importantly, it is delicious. The restaurant offers a menu with a choice of seven sourdough pizzas, a selection of starters, a variety of organic drinks and some tempting desserts. Have no fear though, as the seven pizzas are customisable with a selection of additional ingredients and a specials board for meat eaters and vegetarians.

These sourdough pizzas are made in store, in a smoking wood burning oven, allowing for a soft and fluffy crust (known as the cornicione) which can be accompanied with a selection of dips – we had the stilton which was a wonderfully tangy experience.

My initial thoughts when entering the Franco Manca, Oxford branch were how welcoming, friendly and attentive the staff were, it is truly refreshing and a lovely atmosphere.

The restaurant interior is beautifully decorated, with a rustic yet stylish edge. Expect mirrored back walls, mosaic floors, lights in pendant holders, marble-esque topped tables and 1950-60’s classroom-inspired chairs to compliment – the wood burning oven placed lovingly in the right-hand corner. 

Franco Manca, Oxford exterior and review

So, what did I think of Franco Manca in Oxford?

We took our seat knowing full well what we would be having. A number three for myself (courgettes, basil, mozzarella, buffalo ricotta, franco and cantarelli grana – without tomato) and a number seven for my partner (spicy lamb sausage, mozzarella, buffalo ricotta, yellow piennolo tomato and fresh basil – he added the tomato sauce as an extra).

The pizzas are simply delicious, with super fresh ingredients, a smoked and blistered base, and the fluffiest of crusts – it’s so fluffy, I’m gonna die. Franco Manca is sublime, the pizzas are ginormous (I am yet to finish one yet) and the delivery is super speedy.

It is the perfect place for a lunchtime treat, a more affordable date night or to head to with friends. Even my skeptic Italian friend was delighted – and she is a difficult little lady to please when it comes to ‘Italian’ dining.  

If you are looking for an as close as you can get to authentic Italian pizza experience in the UK, Franco Manca is the place to head.  I cannot impress enough the quality and affordability of this wonderful chain restaurant.

Unfortunately, we were far too full to comment on the desserts. They look delicious but you will have to sample these yourself and revert back to me!

Take a peek at the menu here and have a search for your local Franco Manca restaurant here. They offer a takeaway service for those on the go – and you can even order online! 

Have you been to Franco Manca? Which pizza takes your fancy?

Stephanie xox

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This meal was exchanged for an honest review

My Neighbor Totoro, Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, Courtyard | The LDN Gal

My Neighbor Totoro review with Film4 at Somerset house

In case you have not already guessed, I am a massive Studio Ghibli fan and have been since childhood. So, you can imagine my excitement when Film4 announced their Summer Screen 2017 series at Somerset House and My Neighbor Totoro was a featuring film.

The Film4 Summer Screen experience is something I have also been longing to do for a while now. It can be notoriously difficult to get tickets at times but thankfully I nabbed two for the screening of My Neighbor Totoro on Sunday, August 20, 2017.

Of course, like most people who visit Somerset House for the two-week summertime event, I had already seen the film. However, the appeal of the event is that it is an open screening in the famed courtyard. An event where you snuggle down with food and drink and take advantage of the giant screen within.

Saying this, as it was summer, I had been optimistic that the heavens would not open. However, this being England, they did just that.

With a £2 plastic rain mac in tow, we prepared for a night of childhood memories and torrential rain. I must admit, I adore My Neighbor Totoro (it is one of my Studio Ghibli favourites) but even I was a bit miffed at the weather – they do pre-warn though, the show must go on despite the weather. 

My Neighbor Totoro, Studio Ghibli, Film, Umbrella Scene, Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House | The LDN Gal

My Neighbor Totoro Film, Umbrella Scene, Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House | The LDN Gal

The Film4 Summer Screen Experience

Even with the rain hopping upon me for pretty much the duration of the film, as soon as Totoro popped onto the screen I was delighted and entranced, especially when he shared my pain in the beloved umbrella scene at the bus stop – laughs ensued and the mood brightened. 

I would recommend the Film4 Summer Screen event to anyone. It is a unique experience in one of the most historical courtyards in London. A perfect date-night or birthday treat (August baby you see).

I would warn you to prepare for the elements, think cushions, something to lean on, a rain mac and lots of snacks. Thankfully, a kind steward took pity on me and gave me a blanket.

Overall, I would return despite the weather,  spending the latter half of the film standing to watch to avoid the downpour. Somerset House offers a magical experience, be it the Film4 Summer Screen or skating upon the ice rink at Christmas time.

The Film4 Summer Screen 2017 has now concluded. Tickets will go on sale for next years event in Spring 2018.

Have you been to the Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House? What is your favourtie childhood film?

Stephanie xox

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A Wellcome Kitchen Afternoon TEA REVIEW

I have to admit, I was rather excited for my visit to the Wellcome Kitchen. Not only because it looked exquisite, but also because I was very eager to take a peek around the many exhibits and galleries at the Wellcome Collection in London, known as being the “free destination for the incurably curious.”

The Wellcome Collection is a truly spectacular and unique museum near Euston Station, brimming with intriguing exhibits and collections on science, health and life – blurring the lines between all of this and art.

As curious as I was, I soon dashed to take our summer-inspired afternoon tea in the Wellcome Kitchen, on the museum’s second floor. This boutique venue is divine, with fabulous bright and simplistically elegant decor, including a focal display of the celebrated Pill Dress by artist, Susie Freeman.

What is included in the Welcome Kitchen Afternoon Tea?

So, what did we get in our Wellcome Kitchen afternoon tea for two at the Wellcome Collection? Check out the menu below:

  • A selection of finger sandwiches including cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon and coronation chicken
  • A selection of mini cakes including 2 raspberry and cream tarts, 2 nutty brownies, 2 lemon mouse macarons and 2 red berry cakes
  • Two fruit scones, Cornish clotted cream and Tiptree strawberry jam
  • A pot of loose leaf tea (a variety of flavours) or a hot drink each

So, what did I think of the Wellcome Kitchen Afternoon Tea?

In all honesty, I loved this afternoon tea experience. The venue was bright, quiet and the food divine, with a fabulous mix of sandwiches and selection of cakes (these were all sampled but not all finished – cake overdose comensed).

Everything was so well presented, with lovely floral china and welcoming staff who graced you with big smiles. All the food is freshly prepared on site and they even made our sandwiches to order (I cannot have butter, it makes me feel very unwell – odd I know, but, alas) which was a wonderfully helpful touch. 

The food is locally-sourced and tends to be seasonal produce, you can even indulge in a glass of sparkling pink Moscato if you feel inclined!

It is the perfect venue to unwind and get lost in great company or even solo. The Wellcome Kitchen is so quiet and calm, away from the vibrancy and bustle of the intrigued visitors of the Wellcome Collection downstairs.

Once you have finished your delicious afternoon tea, you will discover the spectacular Reading Room adjacent, which allows you to unwind with a copy or two and take a peek at an eccentric collection of sculptures, paintings and artefacts.

Overall, a perfect mini-day out wrapped up with lots of culture and food – what’s not to love? 

Have you tried the Wellcome Kitchen Afternoon Tea? Where is your favourite place to have afternoon tea in London?

Stephanie xox

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Shakespeare's Globe exterior, LondonKing Lear Review, Shakespeare’s Globe

The story of King Lear is a classic tale of familial love, betrayal and madness – a true tragedy in all its elements that will have you questioning humanity.

Shakespeare’s Globe theatre is currently running the show as a highlight of their Summer of Love 2017 season – and it is a play that should not be missed.

A production of Nancy Meckler, this tumultuous performance is a true work of magic, in the midst of tragedy you are presented also with a night of incredible and sometimes crude comedy, quick retorts and clever wit. The crowd bellowing with hearty laughter and the sound and light effects encouraging wonderful chaos.

It makes for an eclectic atmosphere on a darkening summer evening and is presented by a stellar cast of skilled and fascinating actors. Kevin McNally, who plays King Lear makes for fantastic viewing, emulating the deteriorating King in such a way it makes you feel as if he was an older relative slowly descending into madness.

The King is propped up by his loyal Fool (played by the incredible Loren O’Dair) throughout, who appears far wiser with jibes, clever tricks and incredible humour and sorrow as you make your way through the story.

The acting brings to the forefront an array of emotions, as you relate with the erratic King, pitying him, willing for it not to end in tragedy. Alas, this is Shakespeare and we all know the end to this tale.

Shakespeare's Globe interior, London

Summer of Love season 2017, London

The performance is a well-rounded affair of joy and sorrow, tragedy remains at its core and this comes to a head, as expected, during the second half. The entire cast are passionate, some doting and others truly villainous, presenting themselves in role as perfect examples of their at times questionable traits.

I must say, my only vice was the costuming, which was presented in a half-hearted combination of period costumes and modern sportswear shoes. Quite peculiar to say the least but the show must go on.

King Lear is the perfect date night treat, suited for a more adult audience. I would thoroughly recommend the evening performance to experience the full spectacle of the accompanying light and sound effects. I would also recommend standing for a truly authentic experience.

King Lear is running until the 14th October, 2017. You can buy tickets to the event from £5 here. For a sneak preview of the themes within the play, take a look here.

Are you a fan of King Lear? Have you ever been to Shakespeare’s Globe?

Stephanie xox

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Hokusai The Great Wave Exhibition, British Museum, London

Hokusai exhibition, London

The Hokusai Beyond the Great Wave exhibition at the British Museum is a spectacular affair of oriental art, colour and history. The exhibition illustrates the work of one of Japan’s most famed artists, Kasushika Hokusai.

Hokusai (1760-1849), lived and worked in Japan throughout his lifetime, producing some of his most famed artwork in his later life, a firm believer that with age would come artistic excellence.

During his 90 years, he produced a spectacular creative spectrum of beautiful art, including famed print collections, illustrated books and a variety of intricate paintings.

The Hokusai Beyond the Great Wave exhibition illustrates the last 30 years of the extraordinary artists life and showcases many of his masterpieces, including the celebrated Great Wave (an iconic highlight for many).

Hokusai The Great Wave Exhibition, British Museum, London

Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave exhibition

In his later life, Hokusai became to become influenced by European techniques and artforms, integrating this knowledge into developed art styles, perfectly illustrated throughout the exhibition.

Discover works depicting enchanting landscapes, wonderful portraits, vibrant communal scenes, mystical creatures and delicate illustrations of nature.

The exhibition is open until the 13th August, 2017 and offers a rare oppurtunity to see these great works collectively, as well as the oppurtunity to explore the context of influence for one of Japan’s most exceptional artists. I can highly recommend it for any fan of Japanese culture or art.

You can buy tickets to the event here for £12. For a sneak preview of the event, take a look here.

Are you a fan of Hokusai? Which piece of artwork is your favourite?

Stephanie xox

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