Sep 30, 2010

Celeb-chef David Chang cooks at Claude Bosi's Hibiscus restaurant

Chef Claude Bosi, of Hibiscus restaurant, in Lapland
by Alexandra Forbes, special contributor

King-of-New-York David Chang, the chef famous for his amazing steamed pork buns and the three-Michelin starred Momomuku Ko restaurant, will cook in London for one night only, on October 9, at the excellent Hibiscus restaurant, owned by his buddy Claude Bosi.

Chef Claude Bosi foraging in Lapland
with chef Magnus Nilsson (at right)


I was lucky enough to hang out with both chefs recently in Lapland, Finland, where the third edition of the cult chef happening Cook it Raw took place. We even foraged herbs together (!). Only then did I realize the caliber of chef Bosi's cooking. He worked under none other than the master Alain Passard, at L'Arpège, alongside Pascal Barbot of L'Astrance (in Paris), before moving to London. Hibiscus and Momofuku Ko rank #49 and #26 respectively in the World's 50 Best Restaurants.

A night not to be missed, in short...

3 canapés, 6 courses £120pp

Canapés
- Carpaccio of beef, charred scallion, quark cheese, sezchuan pepper, rice chip
- Apple kimchi, maple labne, jowl bacon
- Pork buns

*****

- Fluke, spicy buttermilk, poppy seed, chive, white soy
- Chicken and snail tortellini, chicken skin, pecorino, truffle
- Kimchi consommé, mackerel, napa cabbage, oysters
- Foie, lychee, reisling wine, pine nuts
- Short ribs, chestnuts, espresso, brussels sprouts and celery leaf
- Cereal milk panna cotta
http://www.hibiscusrestaurant.co.uk/


Chef David Chang foraging in Lapland

Sep 27, 2010

Anish Kapoor at Kensington Gardens

Cute little picture gallery from The Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2010/sep/27/anish-kapoor-kensington-gardens-sculpture

Bordelique fantastique, Les Ballets Trockadero sont magnifiques!

Had a right old ball at the Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at the Peacock Theatre last friday. The all male cast of classically trained dancers is spectacular, and they actually stayed en pointe the whole show. Incredible.

The big star is certainly Robert Carter, or "Olga Supphozova", who can bring the audience to hysterics with just the flicker of a false lash. Her rendition of the white swan in Swan Lake was unforgettable.


But perhaps my favourite thing about the evening was that I left really wanting to go the ballet again. This is a respectful spoof, one that honours the tradition while taking its jabs. I leave you the hilarious "Dying Swan".



The fall programme at the Sadler's Well/Peacock Theatre promise a few other good shows. I am particularly looking forward to Mathew Bourne's reworking of Cinderella:

http://www.sadlerswells.com/show/Matthew-Bourne-Cinderella

There is also a major exhibition at the V&A on the "Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes", which I'm really not going to miss.

http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/theatre_performance/diaghilev-ballet-russes/

The Royal Ballet will also be performing Gisele and Swan Lake come winter time at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, which is great, considering I now can't WAIT to see Swan Lake again....

http://www.roh.org.uk/whatson/index.aspx?eventType=3&period=2&page=0

Sep 22, 2010

No love for Loungelover

So I began my explorative forray into London cocktail joints last night, with a rather disappointing visit to Loungelover. Part of the Les Trois Garcons conglomerate, it shares that little corner with the Boundary, and Shoreditch House.



Now I guess the perfect expression to sum up the place is, as my lovely germanic friend Regina likes to say, "Möchtegern". Wannabe. It's a super hyped, overly decorated ambience, "sleek hostess" and all.

The decoration is a pimped up asian affair, an ecletic extravaganza, which doesn't really survive a closer inspection. Lots of mismatched objects, in bright colours, splattered all over the space, mish mash, haphazard. But all in all, it's a nice enough space. The crowd on tuesday was a bit more burly banker than I would have preferred, but it's very close to the city, and rather inevitable.

The menu here consists of a large selection of cocktails, and a selection of sushi dishes. I diligently tasted three cocktails, and my date had another few, so all in all we sampled about six cocktails.

The Long Island Ice Tea was lovely, on a tall glass, well mixed, not too strong. I started off with a champagne cocktail, the Loungelover, to get the ball rolling, you know. A soft, well-balanced mix of "fig liqueur, sweet vanilla and zesty lemon oil finished with Loungelover Champagne".



I then had two cocktails mixed with egg whites, which sounds perhaps a bit odd, but i love the frothy effect. They do them marvelously at Milk and Honey. First, the Noblesse Oblige, pink grapefruit juice, gin, egg white and lemon. The flavours were lovely, tart, not too acidic. But the frothy delight, nowhere to be found. A waste of a perfectly good egg white. Somewhere, a sad hen sobs the waste of her hopeful albumen. Huh, sorry, poetic license.

I then moved on to a Goose Berry, "Raspberries shaken with Snow Queen vodka, Framboise and orange liqueur with cranberry, egg white and lime juices". Once again, nice flavours, though a bit muddled, bit sweet. But our hen cried another bitter tear, no frothy fanfarre.

We also sampled "a star is born", and an impeccable daiquiri. But all in all, I found the menu a bit convoluted, and the drinks always on the sweet side. Like fancy jello shots.

Maybe my idea of a cocktail bar is outdated, more speakeasy than loungey, but I found the whole experience a bit cheesy and forced.

The quest continues!

Infos

Loungelover
No. 1 Whitby Street
London E1 6JU
www.loungelover.co.uk

Sep 21, 2010

London Film Festival

Ooooh! London Film Festival is coming up. The bonanza is set to begin October 13th. Best to start booking the hot tickets, you know how tickets fly for these things in this city.

Here is the official link: http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff/, and here is a cheat sheet from Time Out:

http://tinyurl.com/35fx5nr


Official poster, Image courtesy of http://www.bfi.org.uk/lff/


Ready, set, go!

Firezza - Best Delivery Pizza in London

I confess I was a bit embarrased by how high brow the blog was looking, and wanted to get down and dirty a bit. So I'm going to write about the best, ever, by a longshot delivery pizza in London.


Firezza makes a fine looking, by the meter, authentic Italian pizza, and delivers to your door with a smile. This is one deluxe delivery pizza, even Harden's raves about it. A true lifesaver, and if you live in London, you know how hard it is to escape the crummy pizza delivery joints.



Yum, Spinaci.


Check out the website, you can order online. Now avoiding unnecessary human interaction, that's what I'm ALL about: http://www.firezza.com/

You will thank me forever for this one, believe me.

New Autumn Menu at Ducasse!

I'm a sucker for any foie gras dish by Alain Ducasse. Now foie gras is not the easiest thing to pull off, the high fatty content and delicate flavours require careful cooking and expert pairing.

The winter menu is chocked full of the stuff, and I can't wait to taste the"Seared duck FOIE GRAS, potato gnocchi, cep mushrooms and fresh almonds" on the new menu.

Image courtesy of http://www.thedorchester.com/alain-ducasse

The full menu further includes a roasted scottish lobster, scallops and caviar. Classic, luxurious, no bullshit french fare, just how I like it.

The full autumn menu will indeed set you back a luxurious, no bullshit, £180 pounds per head, plus £90 for the wine pairing.

Steep, yes. But very well worth it. I'll report back as soon as I make my way there....

London's best cocktail bars

I find myself emboldened by this whole blogging thing to go on a journey that may result in the loss of my cash, my liver, and whatever shred is left of my dignity. I m going to explore the best cocktail joints in London. There’s very many to choose from, The Connaught, The Floridita, Milk and Honey. Time Out has a top fifty. I don t think I can survive trying out 50 cocktail bars. I m likely to get hammered at each one I walk through.

Image courtesy of www.visitbritain.com

After some debate with the experts, I ve narrowed it down to about nine:

Mark’s bar at Hix
The Connaught
Floridita
The Milk and Honey
Lounge Lover
Portobello Star
Purl
69 Colebrook Rowe
Trailer Happiness

I m going to try and make it to two at a time, but I make no guarantees. I m getting my debonair couture on and heading to the Lounge Lover. Please ignore any slurred middle of the night posts.

Sep 16, 2010

Heston Blumenthal's London restaurant opens December at the Mandarin Oriental

by Alexandra Forbes, special contributor


When I attended the 2-day long festivities that surrounded the announcement of The World's 50 Best Restaurants, in London, I was lucky enough to attend the luncheon in honor of the winners, at Bar Boulud restaurant, in the Mandarin Oriental hotel (pictured above).

Even better, I sat to the left of chef  Ashley Palmer-Watts (below). For those who don't know him, he's been Heston Blumenthal's right-hand man at The Fat Duck for years. Now, he's been named Executive Chef of Heston's upcoming restaurant, also located at London's Mandarin Oriental hotel, and slated to open December 1 late January.




It's not a stretch to say that this will be THE restaurant opening of 2011, here are the first images showing what it will look like:





Needless to say I was thrilled to be able to ask chef Palmer-Watts what the place - called Dinner by Heston Blumenthal - would be like.

Palmer-Watts said: “We'll base the menu on the extensive research we did of the last 500 or 600 years in the history of British gastronomy, we came up with contemporary versions of very ancient dishes. We discovered recipes from the 16th and the 17th centuries that still today seem relevant and right, it was fascinating".


He also told me they've got a full-time food researcher on staff.
The 158-seat brasserie-type restaurant, one floor above Daniel Boulud's Bar Boulud, where we were lunching, will feature several meats roasted on the spit, as was done centuries ago.
The décor will incorporate elements that allude to the passing of time, and will be heavy on leather and dark wood (even the walls will have leather coverings!). A contraption made to resemble the mechanism of an oversize clock will be the centerpiece, while framed antique recipes will line the bar walls.
Here's what the private dining room will look like:






And he's the architectural layout of the place:





Dinner by Heston Blumenthal will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and - of course! - afternoon tea. All inspired by 16th Century England. Bookings will be taken starting in mid-November.

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge,
Tel: +44 (0)20 7235 2000
molon-info@mohg.com


Published by Alexandra Forbes, a Brazilian food and travel writer and restaurant critic. Alexandra Forbes writes for the site Brazil for Insiders, and can be followed on Twitter by clicking on this link.

Sep 14, 2010

Fortnum & Mason, "High Tea" indeed

Fortnum & Mason is one of those “favourite place on earth” spots for me in London. Quintessentially English, yes, best place to stock up on tea, yes, beautiful preserves, yes. But I think what really does it for me is the light teal colour that decorates the facade, and peppers all the packaging and displays. It’s like a glam Willie Wonka, a confectionery high of majestic proportions. They have indeed amassed a series of Royal Warrants, starting, surprisingly, with candles.



The history of this English institution harks back to 1705, when:

“Hugh Mason had a small shop in St James’s Market and a spare room in his house. The Fortnum family had come to London from Oxford as high-class builders in the wake of the Great Fire, helping to establish the St James’s and Mayfair areas as the most fashionable in London. William climbed another rung by taking a post as footman in Queen Anne’s household - and the room at Mr Mason’s.”

Now a footman, that’s a big effin deal in Britain. Anywho, these folks went on to ride the wave of British imperialism with bravado, and set themselves up as THE place to go for unfair trade tea. But that is all in the past now, and the blue packaging is truly delightful.



The store is now a major affair, with a little gourmet supermarket on the lower ground that is well worth the detour. On the ground floor you will find a massive catalogue of teas, herbals, green, white, oolong, you name it. These folks are suppliers to the Royal Family, so you will find a Royal Blend, and a Queen Anne blend, and you can feel all regal while you sip your cuppa.


Being partial to Earl Grey blends, always, my personal favourites are the Green Earl Grey and the Smoky Earl Grey (yes, how creative). The Smoky Earl Grey is, as the name suggests, a dense, smoky take on the classic blend. It will set you back £7.75 a tin with 250g. There is also a luxurious White Yunnan (at about four times that price). White teas are the most precious and delicately flavoured infusions, made from handpicked buds, steeped for a minute or two, just so...



The preserves and jams are also wonderful, as are the chocolates and biscuits. This is a great place to get a hamper made, and they also make the most perfect picnic baskets. The store is spread out over several stories, and you can find everything from fashion accessories to stationery, as well as a couple of restaurants. But the beautiful British fare is really the star of the show here, a true gastronomic journey. Between the infinte jars of pickles and chutney, this is a place to come and understand what British elegance and tradition really mean.

My suggestion is that you go for afternoon tea, upstairs, and sample all the goodies. That way you will get to try out the tea blends, and gorge on the scones and the clotted cream (which is churned by cherubs, I’m sure).

The shop is in Piccadilly, so if you find yourself stranded in one of the most demonic parts of town (after Oxford Street), escape the chaos and have a cuppa.


All images courtesy of http://www.fortnumandmason.com/


Oh, breaking news flash! They have just started selling their blend of London honey, which they make from the beehives they placed on the roof of the building. Now that is the ultimate chic souvenir.

You can catch up with latest London food news on my new blog, www.thenoshdiaries.com


The store is still at its address in Piccadilly, where it has been for the last 300 years:

181 Piccadilly
London
W1A 1ER
United Kingdom

Sep 12, 2010

Shoreditch hipsters



this is hysterical.

Sep 3, 2010

Sally Mann at the Photographer's Gallery

If you're looking for a bit of a breather from the crowd in Oxford Street, the Photographer's Gallery is a fantastic place to visit. It's also a great place to visit per se, in which case you can just skip the madness on the High Street. It's 16 Ramillies Street, to be exact.

This is the main UK space dedicated to photography, and has hosted exhibitions by big shots like Juergen Teller (fashion), Robert Capa (photojournalism), Sebastião Salgado (documentary) and Andreas Gursky (contemporary art).



In addition to the exhibition space, there is also a cute cafe, a bookshop, and a place where you can buy prints, from the couple of hundred quid to the couple of thousand quid.

I popped in the other day to catch the Sally Mann exhibition, called "The Family and the Land". This is a collection of pictures of her family, landscapes, and corpses (sic!...or sick!!). A bit of a pell mell job, but her technique is positively stunning. She uses antique cameras and a wet-plate collodion process. I m not good at explaining the details, but this results in images that are extremly detailed, and with almost material luminosity. The effect is eerie, poetic.

Images courtesy of http://www.photonet.org.uk/

You MUST run to see this, as the exhibition ends on September 19th, and the gallery is set to close for quite a while for a major revamp.

Fashion's Night Out

September 8th, is Fashion's Night Out. Bit of a PR fabrication from the fashion houses, but could be good fun anyway. The event was created by US Vogue, and has been moved across the pond to benefit Kids Company, one of the coolest charities in the UK.

I'm looking forward to the Manolo Blahnik pop-up store at Liberty, my favourite place on earth. Yasmin Le Bon is said to do the honors.



Alice Dellal, the badass socialite, is playing a two-hour set at the Louis Vuitton flagship store, to be decorated with origami accessories created by artist Fiona Lee. Rupert Sanderson is having cha cha lessons, and Giorgio Armani is hosting a cocktail party (yawn).


Oh, and they'll be karaoke at Mullbery. Erdem, Christopher Kane and Martin Grant will be customise the Fashion’s Night Out charity T-shirts and tote bags at Harvey Nick's. And Artic Monkeys are playing a gig at Urban Outfitters.



So it's for charity and you can shop and not feel guilty for once. Free booze an added bonus, of course.

Images all courtesy of http://fashions-night-out.vogue.co.uk/, where you can find further info on the event, and a map of all the participating shops, except for Alice Dellal image, courtesy of http://www.dazeddigital.com/

Strolling down the Southbank

The Southbank is London's beach. Not a feet in the sand, balmy ocean breeze kind of way. More in a flat stretch along a waterway where you bring a date if you're having a hard time getting her/him to snog you.


It's also a great place to come for a stroll on weekends. London is a very flat city, and you don't get to see a lot of open spaces and good views when you're downtown. The Southbank just gives you that breathing room, an expanded horizon of sorts.


It's also full of attractions, from the Tate Modern to the BFI, the London Eye and even an Aquarium (waiting to procreate before hitting the latter, thank you very much).


This is also where them young'uns come to skate, or break dance, or even do ballet.



A good place to come and chill, a final tryst with the summer breeze...