Dec 19, 2010

Winter blues

Dear Londoners,

Try and cheer up, enjoy the snow. Have a cup of toddy on me. I'm stuck in an airport in Medan, North Sumatra. It seems I spend most of my life stuck in airports.

They are showing a local soap opera. The man in the military uniform is laughing a lot.

I will return to this blog in early January, with renewed affection for the city, I promise.

Dec 7, 2010

London Cheap Eats - PRINCI

Aah. Princi. This is one of my all time favourite places in London, because it reminds me of not being in London, basically.

Princi is the quintessential Milanese experience, the Armani of the bakeries. Minimal beige stone interiors, impeccable music selection, and slightly pompous pretention. Loves it. I used to gorge on the goodies every weekeend when I was commuting for love to Milan, a bygone era, fortunately, as my waistline, pocketbook and achy-breaky-heart could not have held out much longer.

But there is a certain brand of chic that you only find in Milan, and coming into Princi in London is just an amazing throwback. Recherche but understated, like a mink coat against a collarless navy blue dress.

The food here is rustic, italian, simple, and well priced, but the feel is luxurious and exclusive. Patrons sprawl cozily across the large communal table and the odd bar stools. There is a constellation of primi to choose from, pastas, salads, and the odd pizza and foccacia.

Now ordinarily italians do a rather poor job of desert (seriously, is tiramissu the best your entire cultural history can amount to? I'm not impressed). But the options here are lovely, cannoli, millefoglie and crostate will do the job beautifully.

If I can get a whiff of Milan without the airport cues and the heartache, and for around a tenner, well, this is just the Cheap Eat to top all Cheap Eats.

Oh, and they open late!

You can catch up on the latest London reviews, recipes and stuff on my new blog,

135 - 137 Wardour Street

London Cheap Eats

Yes, though I've ignored it long enough, it seems we are in the middle of a recession. Since it hasn't really come up in Vogue, ID or Numero, it has perhaps taken me a bit longer than expected to catch on (I'm joking, I read Grazia too).

Apparently it's cool to be a recessionista now, which means you basically still buy the Birkin, but in tan, because you will use it more and therefore it's a savvy buy, really. Unfortunately that is not the kind of rationalization that will win over the folks at American Express, believe me. I've tried.

So in order to keep up with the inevitable zeitgeist, I am launching a session on cheap eats, because, let's face it, life isn't all about Sauternes and Foie Gras, you gotta eat too. But my standards shall remain impossibly high (yes mother, that is probably why I am still unmarried, can we talk about this later please?). Now it's rather hard to pull this off in London, because the baseline is, well, beans on toast, rather than rillettes, or piadinas, or the pan con tomate you would get in the continent. Sigh.

It's therefore no surprise that a lot of the places I go to for a quick, cheap, but gastronomically appropriate bite are often not British. I will throw in a couple of fish and chip, pubs and what not. But mostly, it's Indian, Italian, Afghan and all sorts of foreign in this price range.

Well, I'm off. Wish me luck!

Dec 6, 2010

Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental

What a revival for hotel dining in London. The Savoy is back, Koffman is at the Berkeley. And now Boulud and Blumenthal are both going to be holding court at the Mandarin Oriental.

Dinner by Herston Blumenthal opens its doors on Monday, 31st of January 2011. Reservations opened on Wednesday, and I only managed to book for March.

Apparently this won't be a "molecular gastronomy" kind of deal, like the Fat Duck, so I'm really curious about what he'll be coming up with.

Reviews should be coming in sooner than March, I expect, so I will report back as soon as I find out.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge,
Tel. + 44 20 7235 2000

London Breakfasts - Flat White in Soho

It's been a week and I've not posted any photos of food. Just snow and graffiti, but nothing edible. I'm obviously suffering from serious winter blues cognitive bloggitive disorder, this is really not normal.

Well there was the Hix debacle but I forgot my camera and everything else was rather forgettable as well. That was kind of a bummer.

But I'm adding a little addition to my London Brekkies, the Flat White in Soho. Now in all honesty, God only knows why we always end up in this joint (I thought I would kindly reference God cause I found a five pound bill yesterday so here's a Holla, Your Dudeness (advertising real cheap on this blog apparently)).

Anyway, back to the Flat White. This is an unassuming little place, run by some New Zealanders, with a nice little array of salads, all day breakfasts, and a really really great coffee (really really great. coffee.). There's some questionable art on the walls, a crowded little sitting area.

And a buzzy, Soho, gritty cool vibe. It's nice, it's cheap. Me and my friends, we hang out here sometimes.

They make good eggs.

Flat White
17 Berwick St

London W1F 0PT

Random Graffiti

Dec 1, 2010

The Boris Bikes are coming!

Now I haven't blogged about the "Boris bikes" yet because they were really only available to subscribers, which to me kind of defeated the purpose. The public bikes, which londoners have chosen to nickname "Boris bikes" in hommage to our oddly quiffed mayor, have docking stations around all of zone 1 and have turned out be a massive success.

Well, finally, this Friday, they will be opened up to the general public/tourists, who can rent the bikes for a £1 fee for 30 minutes. Now this is convenient timing, as the cold weather is sure to make people weary of cycling and the scheme is not likely to go overcapacity.

Although this is fantastic news for tourists, BEWARE of the traffic, we are all on the wrong side of the roads here!

In any case, as a militant cyclist, I urge you all to try it out, it is by far the fastest, and most pleasant way to explore the city.

For more infos, go to

Nov 30, 2010

Snowy London

In Regent's Park, Photos by Fernanda Curi

Dinner at Hix

Short and bitter.

Decor: a bit wanky.

Food: a bit blah.

Price: a bit ouch.

Though it was voted Best New Restaurant 2010 by Time Out, I will pass, thank you very much.

Nov 24, 2010

London Breakfasts - The Wolseley

Oh how simply divine. I'll be taking my breakfast here everyday forever, thank you very much.

Breakfast at the Wolseley was an absolute feast. The setting is beautiful, the place was designed to be a car showroom, and was later converted to a bank by Barclays. The loo is the old vault (please insert comment about the nature of our banking woes).

There is a palatial, venitian feel about the place, and the lacquered japanese theme is reminiscent of the 19th Century haute bourgeoisie. Reminds me of the Jacquemart-Andre museum in Paris (which, by the way, is an absolute must, especially because therein lies a Titian entitled "Le temps tue l'amour", and that's just hilariously true).

Oh but enough about the bloody decor. The food is to die for. I had a ton of stuff, which I'm afraid they wouldn't let me photograph, the monsters.

We had the avocado vinaigrette, the mousse de foie de canard, an cheese omelette, a crumble, a strudel, and a truckload of bloody maries. And champagne. Everything very straightforward, befitting the bistrot theme, but impeccably executed.

I must make a special note on the service, which was outstanding. Discrete, friendly, efficient. Perfectly timed and choreographed. It is only when we encounter perfect service that we are reminded of how important it is, and how much it does for a dining experience. A perfectly pressed linen tablecloth also never fails to warm my foodie heart.

And the absolute standout dish was the prodigious Omelette Arnold Bennett. A bit of a shoddy author, but apparently he made a fine omelette: smoked haddock, gratinee with hollandaise sauce. Incredible. I must recreate this at home urgently and stuff myself silly.

The final happy surprise was the bill. Now this is of course on the steeper side of this breakfast series, but not unlike the kind of bill you would get at a place like Bistrotheque. And in all honesty, though I do love Bistrotheque, this is by a very long measure a much classier, tastier kind of breakfast adventure.

Nov 19, 2010

American Ballet Theatre at Sadler's Wells Theatre

This is only in February, but it's almost fully sold out, and really, really not to be missed.

American Ballet Theatre will be performing for six days at Sadler's Wells Theatre in February, presenting two programmes, including some of Balanchine's most famous choreographies, created for the ABT, and set to Tschaikovisky's Suite No. 3 for Orchestra in G Major.

I've booked. Wouldn't miss it for the World. Capital W.

Here is a teaser from the Dutch National Ballet.

ABT at Sadler's Wells
From February 1st to February 6th, 2011

London Breakfasts, Lantana Cafe

This place is truly a little hidden gem, tucked away in Bloomsbury, right off Charlotte Street. If you're exploring the sites, like the British Museum, this is a great place to come eat.

The prices are great, the atmosphere is totally relaxed, and NON touristy, which is surprising for that area. The food is wholesome, the portions massive, and the coffee delicious.

There is a breakfast and a lunch menu during the week, and all day brunch on the weekend. I had french toast with ricotta and chai poached pears, and my friend had the corn fritters with a poached egg and salsa. Both massive, and wonderful.

They have also recently opened a little takeaway shop next door, so you can get a muffin and a coffee on the go as well.

Lantana Cafe

13 Charlotte Place

Shopping for special ingredients in London

Attention foodies, this is invaluable information. If you live in London, you've probably come across Borough Market, which I've blogged about extensively in the past. You will find most fresh goodies you will need there.

Game season at Borough market

But when it comes to dry goods, surprisingly, London can be a tad tricky, so I'm going to share a couple of the places I go to when I'm scavenging for special ingredients.

First and foremost. The Harrods Food Halls. Not only are they beautiful, art nouveau, historical, and really fun to visit (if you can ignore the hoards of tourists, of course), but they are massive, with halls and halls filled with the most exotic ingredients, all the cheese, charcuterie, breads you can imagine. They also have several little restaurants and traiteurs, if you really just want to stare and eat, without necessarily having to cook.

Harrods also do a spectacular "own brand" line of wines and bubblies. Really well priced, great quality wines. You can buy by the case and have it delivered to your door, I strongly recommend their Chablis, amazing value. They've just opened a beautiful new wine shop in the LG, well worth a visit.

Image courtesy of

Whole Foods is also a pretty good option, particularly the larger stores, like the Kensington one.

Another surpisingly good place to try is the Harvey Nicks food hall. It's rather tiny, but really well stocked. I was recently on a mission to find semola di grano duro to make some pasta at home, and this was actually the only place I could find it.

Finally, Fortnum and Mason. You will find the usual array of jams, pickles, cheeses, and teas, but also, in the LG floor, a minimart with all sorts of goodies as well.


87-135 Brompton Road,

Borough Market
239 Borough High Street

Harvey Nichols Fifth Flor
67 Brompton Rd

Fortnum and Mason
181 Piccadily

Whole Foods

Swinging London

My dear friend, and dancer/parkour master extraordinaire Diogo Granato honored me with a visit recently, and took these spectacular photos around Shoreditch that I wanted to share...

Nov 8, 2010

London Breakfasts - Bistrotheque

I've written about Bistrotheque before, and I'll likely be writing again. But this is probably the classic Sunday brunch destination in East London. Located just right off the canal on Mare street, behind the galleries in Vyner street, Bistrotheque is already a classic.

The star attraction is the baby grand piano, with Xavior playing pop tunes, I'm sure you'll find yourself breaking into song at some point.

The crowd is beautiful, East but not try-hard. And the food is artfully executed, if sometimes a bit unimaginative (the chocolate tart was a major disappointment, not even worthy of a roadside diner). You'll find the breakfast staples, like eggs benedict, along with a nice little lunch menu, if you're going for more substance. I couldn't resist and went for the steak tartare and saffron panna cotta.

And the bloody maries are ACE. You can't have a real brunch without a mean bloody mary, right?

23-27 Wadeson Street
E2 9DR

London Breakfasts - Tina, We Salute You

London Brekkies. Meeting friends for brunch or breakfast is probably my favourite thing to do on the weekend. Yes, I'm getting old, thanks for pointing that out.

But whether you are in "geezerification" like myself or not, meeting friends for breakfast/brunch is a classic in this city, hangover or not. So I'm embarking on a new series, starting out with my favourite local, "Tina, We Salute You". Right of Newington Green, this unassuming little treasure serves amazing nosh in a setting that has a little hint of Berlin, maybe, with constantly changing artwork on the walls and a starkly modern vibe...

It's unassuming, quirky, but not pretentiously "alternative". The food is a dream, sourced from the best suppliers, the coffee great, the bread homemade, and if you're lucky to land a seat on the sofas, the ideal place to go through the papers.

The "winter menu" is out, all chorizo sandwiches and warm banana bread. I'll have two of everything, please...

Tina, We Salute You
47, King Henry s Walk
N1 4NH

Nov 2, 2010

Noma Book Signing

In case you've been living in Mars, or are just not an absolute food junkie like meself, Noma is the hot ticket restaurant of the World right now.

It's all about foraging, "extreme local" cuisine.

Rene Redzepi will be doing a book signing next Friday, November 12th, and tickets are flying.

Yes, he's so hot you actually have to book a ticket for the signing. Can't wait to get my copy.

Chritian Marclay: The Clock, at White Cube Gallery

Beautiful, beautiful video. The 24 hour video is a collage of scenes from anthological films, pieced together around the theme of "the clock", a clever subterfuge to constantly appose the film to "reality" (whatever the hell that may be).

The experience is touching, as I watched the most ingeniously edited bits of iconic films reweaved into this non-narration, this patchwork of gestures and condensed instants, the separation between cinema and life became ever so tenuous. We have constructed our lives from these films, and they have become our lives. A cinematic typography for our moments, an intertwined continuum of life, film, and dream.
The gallery is located right off Piccadily:
25-26 Mason's Yard,
The show is on until November 13th, and they will have overnight viewings from Thursday to Saturday this weekend and next.

Oct 25, 2010

Cox Cupcakes

I know. Cupcakes are so last year. And they all taste kind of rubbish, with the icing all piled on top of the cake, not so good, usually.

But these are amazing! The icing is delicious and not to sweet/fatty, the cake is moist.

And most of all, the decorations are just outrageous. Especially for Halloween, really good fun, with eyeballs, skulls, the works. I'm sure the kids will flip out.

The neon, bright lights, disco power shop is owned by famed shoe designer Patrick Cox, and is, of course, in Soho, home of all things camp in London.

Cupcakes range from £2 to £4.50 each.

Cox Cookies and Cakes
13 Brewer Street
London W1F 0RH

T. +44 (0)20 7434 0242 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +44 (0)20 7434 0242 end_of_the_skype_highlighting