I’ve been living in London and writing about food for over 20 years. I trained as both journalist and cook and, as editor of Time Out's top-selling London restaurant guides, as well as the Automobile Association's Guest List series, I eat out several times a week. The rest of the time I’m working with recipes, writing books or helping chefs and other food writers produce theirs. Then there's the journalism - I love writing about food trends and ingredients and have interviewed all manner of people from Ferran Adrià (we went around Berwick Street market - very much not La Boqueria) to London's hobby beekeepers (Regent's Park honey is my favourite).
Where I always grab a coffee/tea/hot chocolate: London’s awash with good coffee shops now but great hot chocolate is harder to come by. I pop into chocolatier Paul A Young in Camden Passage and the Royal Exchange, or the small bakery chain Konditor & Cook. Both use proper chocolate, not milky powder, to make their drinks.
My favourite stroll: When living at my first flat in London I used to walk from Turnpike Lane up the hill to Alexandra Palace every weekend to get some exercise and enjoy the view. Now I live by Hampstead Heath and walk on it daily, but although the views here are gorgeous, I slightly prefer the panorama from Ally Pally as it shows the unkempt side of the city as well as the picture-postcard stuff.
Where to be seen: the River Café still has tremendous cachet. I’ve seen Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin there, as well as various top fashion designers.
Great London films: I love The Tall Guy (Richard Curtis’s screenwriting debut, directed by Mel Smith) for its West End musical parody Elephant! The segment where Dexter cycles down Shaftesbury Avenue is lovely too, for the way it conveys the thrill the American ex-pat hero (Jeff Goldblum) still gets from working in the city.
The most breathtaking view: is best enjoyed with a bottle of wine, and the level 7 restaurant at Tate Modern is hard to beat: wall-to-wall windows, a pigeon’s eye-view of St Paul’s and the City on one side, and the spooky proximity of the Blue Fin building on the other.
The best spot for some peace and quiet: head to the riverside in winter. London, bizarrely, still does not recognise the Thames as a major asset.
Shopaholics beware: Marylebone High Street and surrounds has a great mix of designer fashion, gourmet foods, homewares and keepsakes. Start the day right with breakfast at The Providores & Tapa Room, or La Fromagerie, and pick up a rose-scented chocolate bar or three from Rococo before you head home.
City soundtrack: I’ve been living here over 20 years and even now, every time I walk into Covent Garden piazza the tunes from My Fair Lady pop into my head.
Don’t leave without... visiting one of the capital’s great gastropubs. There have been some lovely refurbishments of Georgian and Victorian pubs and gin palaces over the past ten years, with kitchens serving food cooked from scratch each day, and terrific hand-pumped beers at the bar.