Friday, 28 September 2012

Flo's Perfect Sunday: Brunch and Bronzes


I wanted to treat a special someone to a perfect day out in London to celebrate their birthday. Having looked through many glowing reviews I decided on the Bronze exhibition at the RA – a beautifully curated, theatrically lit exhibition of bronze sculptures from many centuries before Christ right up to twentieth and twenty first century masterpieces like Picasso’s monkey (see below). 



This Monkey’s face was made from one of Picasso’s son’s toy cars…


It is full of wonderful things and it takes a good two hours to do it any justice. It really must have been good since I didn’t even notice my rather painful stilettos.


To fuel our cultural enlightenment and to start the day in style, I booked a couple of seats at the bar of Le Caprice  – a rather old school establishment, just by the side of the Ritz and 3 minutes walk away from the RA. 

Le Caprice does traditional and slightly more exotic dishes (the sashimi looked pretty good) to perfection – eggs Benedict, Arlington, Florentine, steak tartare, steak, burger and fries, and so on. Each one is not overcomplicated, with the odd twist here and there, but spot on each time. The service is also the best around – we got free birthday truffles, and an explanation of the cooking techniques whenever we were interested.


The Venetian Spritz was moorishly delicious and refreshing. To Make your own, pour 40ml Aperol, 100ml good quality Prosecco, 20ml soda over ice and add a wide swirl of orange peel and a green olive.

The brunch menu is also pretty reasonable, and you get a yummy bread basket with the most scrumptious muffin in it. I spent around £54 on both of us and got an eggs Arlington with delicious, celery salted, elegantly spherical hash browns, a burger with chips, two Venetian spritzers, free truffles, an espresso, and a dessert wine. 



Elle and I are the masters of Hollandaise sauce and this one is almost as good as ours! 

I would really recommend the bar since its more fun. Go around 12.30, just before it gets busy, so you get extra special attention for the first half hour.





Their weekend brunch is now served Saturday 11.30-4pm and Sundays 11.30-5pm. Menu hereIn the week, they also have generous set menu deals.



Bronze is running from 15 September - 9 December 2012
Adults £14 
RA friends go free

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Thursday, 27 September 2012

More Mad Hatters: When Treacy met Moritz

images from Waldemeyer

Following Elle's review of Bates Hats, my madhatter's tea party, and our general obsession with hats, I thought I would do a brief post on Hatspiration (bad coinage, I know).

My mad hat exposure reached a new height when I started working designer-engineer Moritz Waldemeyer when I was 18 (see here) ... look at me in this Chalayan hat...


Recently, during LFW, the mad hattage went beyond a joke. When LED lighting maestro Moritz met milliner Philip Treacy, a luminous helicopter hat was the only logical conclusion.

images from Waldemeyer

And that wasn't the only trick up Treacy's sleeve...
Images from Waldemeyer

 My personal favourite (aside from the heli-hat)...

Images from Waldemeyer

If I do another madhatter's tea party, I know what I want for my birthday, ahem ahem...

Meanwhile, for a spot of (just) affordable mad hattery, how about this Paul Smith ladies' bowler.

Images stolen from Paul Smith website...


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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Thrifty Fifties


It's autumn, every instinct says to put your dresses into an early hibernation and live in last year's ski leggings... After all, other people can't tell they're ski-wear, can they?

The item that can save us now is the perfect '50s dress. How better to channel a little optimism than with a piece of post war fashion?

I recently overheard a friend of mine talking about how much the '50s trend pisses her off: 'Why look back to an era of sexism, little housewives with cinched waists and no lives?' Well on the '50s, things may not have been at their best, but they were certainly changing faster than they had before thanks to womens' involvement in the war effort and their reluctance to go back. The 50s was also an era of renewed creativity, fashion DIY, Vogue pattern books, knitting and altering, stretching every last penny


It wasn't until Coco Chanel started pioneering comfort and elegance combined for womenswear that the nipped in waists gave way to the cacophony of garments now available to us (disclaimer: this is a massive over simplification of fashion history). 


A/W 2012 Lanvin, Pucci, Dior
However, the cinched waists of 50s style kept and keeps coming back. Why? Not as a reminder of women's subordination, but because they follow a woman's natural shape, fit, flatter, are practical for walking in or even running for the bus and can work in all kinds of fabrics.

In keeping with the thrifty spirit of the 50s, these dresses are often to be found at bargain prices since they have lived once already and are not so old as to have earned the title 'antique'. We have bought a few 50's gems over the years ranging from £20 to £50, including what we hope was once a wedding dress from The Stables Market in Camden, this gorgeous evening number with a dropped back from Brick Lane, and a recent purchase from Margate (see review here). This has to be the perfect trans seasonal trend. 





Flo and Elle 50's Vintage Dresses Style Margate Spitalfields London Camden Flo and Elle Style StyleFlo and Elle 50's Vintage Dresses Style Margate Spitalfields London Camden Flo and Elle Style StyleFlo and Elle 50's Vintage Dresses Style Margate Spitalfields London Camden Flo and Elle Style StyleFlo and Elle 50's Vintage Dresses Style Margate Spitalfields London Camden Flo and Elle Style StyleFlo and Elle 50's Vintage Dresses Style Margate Spitalfields London Camden Flo and Elle Style  Flo and Elle 50's Vintage Dresses Style Margate Spitalfields London Camden Flo and Elle Style StyleFlo and Elle 50's Vintage Dresses Style Margate Spitalfields London Camden Flo and Elle Style StyleFlo and Elle 50's Vintage Dresses Style Margate Spitalfields London Camden Flo and Elle Style StyleFlo and Elle 50's Vintage Dresses Style Margate Spitalfields London Camden Flo and Elle Style StyleFlo and Elle 50's Vintage Dresses Style Margate Spitalfields London Camden Flo and Elle Style  Flo and Elle 50's Vintage Dresses Style Margate Spitalfields London Camden Flo and 

Monday, 24 September 2012

Elle's beauty review: A hair affair


It's been about 7 years since I met Pierre, dancing on a table in a London nightclubs (him, not me) and despite forsaking that particular hotspot a while back I've been coming to Pierre for all my coiffing needs since. His Marylebone salon Leticia Haute Coiffure is now 2 years old and does all the specialist hair treatments you might be looking for including a great brazillian blowdry but the thing I think they do the best is their classic big bouncy blowdry; think fat curls and root volume. A little birdie told that they're up for Marie Claire best blow dry in London too so I'm not alone in my adulation.


I went along 2 weekends ago to get my locks done for a friend's wedding and was as impressed as ever. Leticia, Pierre's lovely wife and business partner (who the salon is named after... awww) took me through their wedding offering, as they specialise in hen and bridal packages now that their VIP room is up and running. Brides come to her from the moment they set their wedding date to make sure that their hair is at the pinacle of health on the big day, even if they're doing a hair colour change or growing it out. 




Sci-fi stylings


Dress by Diane Von Furstenberg

I had their classic blowdry with conditioning treatment. The whole thing took 2 hours and left me with that new hair feeling which lasted for the entire wedding. Pierre explained that he'd set my curls particularly high to make sure that they'd fall to the right length in time for the 4pm start, as you can see the effect lasted all night, even once the boisterous dancing had commenced.


...if you're new to London and need to find a hair dresser, Pierre is your man; if you're looking for a special-occasion blowdry, this is the place; or if you love King Charles spaniels then forsake your own hairdresser just to hang out with this guy. Who could say no to this face??

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Friday, 21 September 2012

Elle's weekender: The Cornish Coast


I've just come back from a blustery-with-intermittent-sunshine weekend away and I'm in love. I have to admit that Cornwall took me by surprise. I wanted to take my mum away there for some well deserved peace and quiet. I figured we'd see a ruin or too and go on some walks but nothing prepared me for how truly breathtaking the landscape would be, or how moving (ahem) i'd find the history - I must be getting sentimental in my old age.
Autumn feels like the right time to go to Cornwall. It's when the whales come past, the beaches are emptier, the ruins more noble and the haunted spots are more ominous.We only went for 4 days, which was perfect for a mini get away. There's still time to book if you want to do the same for the end of September or the start of October and as the summer season dies down there's more late space available.


     


We booked late because of my particularly hectic work schedule, and at first I was surprised to not be able to find a single place to stay in St. Ives (even on Airbnb, my reliable second resort). The staycation is clearly going strong. Eventually, I happened upon a place called Lord Ryans, which was a real blessing - and it turned out - a serious coincidence too. I was telling my lovely colleague Ms. Vipond, the voice of our company's twitter, about how I'd found it in the high season; explaining that it was a new business, only having opened Spring this year and they'd had one negative review on Trip Advisor which my instincts hadn't trusted so I called to be utterly reassured by the lovely Mariana who runs it. Laura interrupted me half way through my tale, exclaiming "It's not Lord Ryan's is it??" - It was. We were staying in the same place she'd been at with her boyfriend the week before.

If you're looking for a chilled out and basic, fantastically good value apartment then you can't do any better. The three of us paid £300 for 3 nights with breakfast included in total and were very comfortable. The accommodation is just up the hill from a car park and the vibe is youth-hostel meets B&B (Mariana, the owner has dorms too). It was exactly what we needed after an over-indulgent summer in hotels. It was real and you felt like part of an adopted family at breakfast.

I seem to always start my weekender posts with what we ate, but then again, that's the first thing I look up before arriving at my weekend destination so here goes.

For a tapas style lunch: The Porthmeor Cafe



The Porthmeor cafe is on the beach just to the left of the St. Ives Harbour. It serves a variety of lunch and tea options, including a tapas lunch with rotating specials. The quality of food here is outstanding, both in terms of ingredients (fresh sea food) and concepting (equal to or surpassing the best of Soho's tapas style new openings). The best meal of the trip was had here, 20 minutes after we arrived in St. Ives and with a 5 minute wait for a sea-side private booth too! The meal was washed down with my newly discovered favourite white wine, which I saw on the menu and decided to try: Los Gansos Chilean Gewurztraminer, which I've just ordered a case of from here. 

We ate: crab, whitebait, sweet potato chips, squid, broccoli and duck with beetroot.




           


For an elegant evening out: The Porthminster Beach Cafe

I had a bad meal at The Porthminster Beach Cafe, however my two chaperones had excellent ones and once again, the quality of ingredients was out of this world so I feel compelled to give this place a good review overall. Lucky for you guys, their menu doesn't change too regularly (other than the specials), so you'll be ok if you follow my advice.



We had the starter special: a mackerel sashimi in mango juice and rice wine with cracked black pepper and pickled cucumber - a dream. My mother also ordered the scallops which were intended to come with a good-looking beetroot pure, however this had dairy so my mother, being vegan ordered hers plain. They came, well seasoned and cooked to perfection with a lemon on the side and were also exquisite.

For mains, I had the pan fried John Dory with 'crab and red pepper fritters' - you may remember my reference to this in the post: In Search of London's Cheapest Lobster  3rd paragraph down, I won't bore you twice. My food was disappointingly dry, though I do take particular issue with this where others may not mind.


Swiftly moving on, the surf and turf was beautifully done with all the tastes in their correct place, including some tender lobster meat alongside an excellent steak (truffle on top), scallops and a miniature sauce boat with bĂ©arnaise. Truffles and bĂ©arnaise are my two most favourite things, closely followed by steak and lobster so it was really my own fault for not being hungry enough to order this.



My mother had the line caught mackerel fillets in a cornish dashi broth. This was a brilliantly executed take on Cornish meets asian flavours. The dashi broth was delicate and surprising with an accompaniment of peanut and crab dumplings. Utterly brilliant. We washed this down with Dr Loosen riesling, which we had sampled during our evening at The Finsborough Wine cafe and particularly liked.

For a proper British pub pitt stop: Logan Rock Inn 

In between beaches, we found ourselves at Logan Rock Inn for a slap up Sunday lunch. There's no roast here, but daily specials sourced from the sea and pies. This is your classic no-frills English pub; the salads are undressed with chunky red onion, batter so thick on the fish and chips that you need a pick axe to get in, but there's something very satisfying about this kind of food. My Cornish Crab with both white and brown meat was the best I've ever had.

       


For posh fish and chips: Harbour Fish and Chips

The harbour in St. Ives has a lovely little posh fish and chip shop on its right hand side. You can get take away here too. The battered scallops are the best thing on the menu (from what we tried).


Battered scallops with home made tartare sauce


For the most filling meal you can hold in one hand

A pastie is a must when you're in Cornwall, but I'd advise getting puff pastry and going for mince rather than steak meat, the way it's meant to be. I love the way they steam when you take your first bite. Mmm.




What to see

The Barbara Hepworth house and garden


It's so uplifting to go to the place where Barbara Hepworth made her work. It's the kind of place you have to feel out for yourself so I won't say much. Make sure you see her workshop as it's easily missed but has a lovely atmosphere about it.









Men-an-tol

The healing stone with a hole carved in the middle, that you pass through to be well. The idea is that this stone was created on lay lines (electro-magnetic force fields in the earth), though as lay lines have been scientifically disproven, you'll have to think of an alternative reason for why this space seems to ring through your whole body. It's magical.




The old mine

Beautiful and left in its naturally ruined state, a reminder of the history that we lose when we repair or destroy.










The Minak Theatre

The work of one incredible woman who carved the theatre from the cliff-side herself, completing the first iteration in 1926 to then have much of it destroyed by the war and start again. As beautiful from the theatre as it was from the coast.



Beach life


Porthcurno beach for a sheltered picnic and a dip or Gwenver beach for a walk and some rock-pooling.








Having seen the coast from the land for three days, we saw it from the sea on the last with a Marine Discovery trip. The sealife you can see from the coast in Cornwall is breathtaking. It was a real lesson for me in appreciating what's on your doorstep. I could hardly believe that we could see seals, porpoises, dolphins, sharks and whales just off the coast in a matter of hours. Truly sobering.








...and an update with pictures from Hannah at Marine Discovery taken on the day we went:






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