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
E. info@coxcookiesandcake.com

Frieze Art Fair

It's a bit of a late post, I guess I needed a bit of time to digest all the information, and figure out exactly what I was going to say. Contemporary art fairs are a tricky one for me, at least. There is all the excitement, the people flying into town, the parallel events, the whole fanfare. There are myriad well clad hip and intellectual people frolicking amidst some of the best art works of our time. But the whole spectacle left me a bit depressed. I know, it's a cliché. But is this really art? And if so, what does it say about our times? The endless rows of paraphernalia, each a concept, an idea, an ethereal vision, but also an object, a thing, traded like all other things. Stacks and stacks, row after row, of things. Of stuff, really. Defeated by its own mercantile futility.

That’s just me, being a party pooper, I know. An inarticulate one at that, so many more well versed and competent people before me have dwelled on these questions with greater propriety and depth. The fair was wonderful, and everyone was raving about how this year had been much better than the last, and lots of great deals were being made, and how wonderful it was for the city to have such a lively art fair.

This year, as opposed to other years, there was a great deal more figurative painting being shown. Lots of objects and sculpture. And very little video. Perhaps these are trends that are rooted in a natural transition in the history of our art and society, or perhaps curators were just playing it safe because of the economic crisis. I admit I’m too ignorant to know.

But hey, I had a good time, took some cute pics for the blog, and had a beautiful stroll around Regent’s Park in its full autumnal grandeur.

Oct 16, 2010

Bistrot Bruno Loubet

Bruno Loubet, a boy wonder of London cuisine in the nineties, has rather recently returned from his exile in Australia to give us Bistrot Bruno Loubet. This is a welcoming, unpretentious space, with a real warm and convivial bistrot feeling. No shenanigans.

The wine list is perhaps one of the best I have seen in London. The prices are far from exhorbitant, and at £26,00 pounds, my Costières de Nîmes felt like a designer bag at outlet prices. Strong and yet so beautifully round.

The bread was freshly cooked and warm, the olives perfect and juicy. Yes, I was famished and devoured everything in sight except perhaps my napkin until the food arrived.

Once again, I decided on the festival menu, and started off with a simple mozzarela salad, a creamy joy of a dish.

As a main, I opted for the wild rabbit fricasse with English penny bun barley. The rabbit was a bit dry, unfortunately. But the barley risotto and the seasoning were hearty and full of flavour.

My friend had the mackerel, in a spotless beurre blanc.

Desert was unfortunately a bit of a disappointment, a "brioche" like torte, with blackberry jam, which was marred by an overpowering citric flavour,like panettone with a vengeance.

But despite a few minor glitches, this is a great restaurant. The atmosphere is envelopping and lively, the food satistying, fresh and somewhat wholesome, as a Bistrot should be. I spied other tables having lovely little paninis, and pots of foie as well. Everything looked delicious and relaxed, and the prices are reasonable. Somewhere to come break bread with good friends, and linger on with yet another bottle of that great red.

Bistrot Bruno Loubet
88 Clerkenwell Rd.

Maze by Gordon Ramsay

Mmmm. Pardon the pun. Maze was great, but not yet quite "amazing". But what a palate cleanser after the Rambling debacle!

Following the gravy train (oh no pun again!) of London Restaurant Festival, I went recently to have a girly lunch at Maze. The decor here seems best suited to a business lunch, strict, beige, and not particularly charming.

But the festival menu was a delight, and with four minidishes to taste from, enough to get a real sense of what this kitchen has to offer.

I began with a hearty plate of ham hock rilletes,accompanied by a cress and green apple salad, red onions and quail eggs. Delicious.

This was then followed by a roast poussin breast and leg, maple jelly and sweetcorn risotto. The meat was perfectly cooked, the flavours understated, and the risotto so creamy and sweet I could have gorged on bucketfulls.

I then moved on to a rump of salt marsh lamb, fennel, samphire and sorrel cress. Salty and sweet in just the right measure.
This was all concluded with a pistachio cake, kentish raspberries, pistachio crumble.

Overall, the food was impeccably prepared, the staff courteous, and the wine list comprehensive. The restaurant seems to truly value local and seasonal ingredients, and the preparation is restrained. But perhaps also a bit too safe, the combinations always classic, if a bit unoriginal. I would have appreciated a touch of recklessness.


Maze Gordon Ramsay
10 - 13 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 6JP

Oct 15, 2010

The Anti-Hispter Backlash

This is a link to a piece regarding "the anti-hipster backlash".


I guess people are just a wee bit tired of all the posing, all the attitude. But in all honesty, aren't all youth movements like this? Weren't the hippies so much more about long hair than big ideas? What right do past generations to criticize this movement for its pretentious, superficial esthetic, when they have left us this messed up world to contend with?

I've lived in Hoxton, and Newington Green is quite close to hipster central, and so I truly understand how annoying this all can be. But so is the twin-set crowd. All forced labels and tribal associations are stupid by definition.

But can't we just let kids be kids?

Oct 14, 2010

Ramblers Schramblers

Sometimes, thing don’t go to well for this here blogger. On Saturday night, I went to a pop-up dinner by the Ramblers group, in an industrial location in Southwark. The hide and seek location, quirky decoration and hip crowd seemed to foreshadow an interesting night.

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. The promised Jerusalem artichoke soup was substituted by a rather plain carrot soup, served with a poorly leavened homemade bread. Dishes came out irregularly out of the kitchen, with half the table waiting for the other half to be served. The soup was accompanied by a singer playing guitar and screetching his way through some rather insipid ballads. My friends were already sending me crossed looks at this point, and I was praying for things to improve from there.

But it was with utter disappointment that I tasted the main dish, a sloppy concoction of lumpy celearic mash and cold, dry pigeon. Barely edible. Something that would get points for effort if home cooked at a friend’s dinner party. But unacceptable for a £40,00 a head event.

Desert was even ghastlier. A mess of cream, jam and a biscuit shell.

But nothing could have prepared us for the vacuous and pretentious interactive theatre performance that followed.

Uh yes, buddy, my sentiments exactly. Get me out of here!

Oct 6, 2010

Random Art - Euston

"Paaapa can you heeear meeee..."

London's best cocktail bars: Purl

And so the intrepid blogger continues to booze her way through the Capital! And may have to soon quit her day job to stay home all day sucking on ibuprofen like they're tic tacs while watching reruns of House with a drip feeding diet coke into her coronary artery.

But I digress. Last night I made my way to Marylebone, in the heart of twin-set land, to go check out Purl, another top rated cocktail bar from the list. It's a basement, so right off the bat kudos for cosy (i have to stop saying kudos, btw). This is by far the suavest of the places I've visited, with tables set in individual little coves, though I realize that the ambience that I've been missing in all these visits is really just cigarette smoke. Damned smoking ban. The air is offputtingly transparent, so thankfully the lights are dim enough to create a mood. In fact, the lights are so soft, yellow and beautiful that I may cancel my next micropeel appointment and just hold court here for the remainder of the decade before I hit the knife.

But I digress. The cocktails here are more of a "molecular mixology" kind of affair, with emulsions, caviars and smoke. I had several cocktails, starting with a champagne cocktail (I always ease myself into alcoholic dementia gently, beginning with le bubbly). It's called Champagne and Caviar, and basically consists of a glass of bubbly accompanied by "mango/pine" caviar. Now if you've never had these little caviar-like balls, that are basically starchy/gelatin skins filled with a juicy liquid, you will be most impressed. But to my taste, and this is the thing with these caviars, the shell was a bit too rubbery and thick, and it just did not taste good. So I just downed the bubbly and got on with it, as you do.

I then had a Mr. Hyde's Fixer Upper, which is an interpretation of a rum and coke, consisting of rum, cola reduction and orange bitters, served in a smoke injected, wax-sealed potion bottle. Major visual impact, a stainless steel bucket arrives in a cloud of smoke. Inside lies the bottle, also filled with smoke, and the drink. Now because everything else is reduced, this is basically pure rum. But the smoke makes it taste perfectly smooth, and it goes down a velvety charm. It feels a bit like cognac.

Finally, I tried the Little Moscow, an interpretation of the Moscow Mule. Smirnoff Black, lime bitters and ginger beer. Unlike the last ginger beer drink I had at 69 Colebrooke Row, this tastes beautiful, fresh, balanced, and not at all like washing-up liquid. It also came in a pretty copper tumbler that I kind of wanted to nick.

Overall, I would give this the highest marks so far, though the bar area is very detached from the seating area, and I would enjoy a better view of the show. And the crowd, a bit on the twin-set side, but this is West London. The cocktails here are all fun, and interesting, a very contemporary take on what food/drink should be, a puzzling little journey...

50/54 Blandford Street
reservations (recommended): info@purl-london
Website and all images courtesy of: http://www.purl-london.com/

PS: there is the most goooorgeous little vintage shop, called Catwalk right next door, with some serious Missoni on the window....

PPS: I have bought a nifty little camera and will be uploading proper pictures of things in the future.

Oct 5, 2010

London Restaurant Festival

the interior at Petrus

It's on! I apologize for missing the mark on this one, it was my birthday yesterday and I found myself a bit frazzled by all the attention and champagne.
Anyway, London Restaurant Festival is officially on! Run and reserve your table at some of London's most exclusive restaurants for a super friendly price, at less than £30 pounds for set menus. The event runs from October 4 to 18.

I've already booked Maze, Petru, Babylon and Pearl. I'm going to stuff myself silly. And blog all about it, promised.

There are also plenty running, extraordinary events, such as "cook-offs" between renowned chefs, walking tours, and cinema events. A true gastronomical feast!

For more information on the event, visit the official website:
There aren't that many slots left, so RUN!

Oct 2, 2010

London's best cocktail bars: 69 Colebrooke row

And so I tread on, searching for the ultimate cocktail joint in London. Last night I went to 69 Colebrooke Row, in Angel.

Right off the bat, this was very much more my idea of what a cocktail joint should look like. Small, dark, clubby vibe, and the pianist de rigueur, plowing through some lively jazz piece.

The space is quite tiny, black and white checkered flours, a small bar at the end, an old school look, black and red satin uniforms for the ladies. I crawl into a little place in the back, and begin exploring the menu.

Thankfully, this one doesn't read like a an overstuffed address book full of Thai hookers, like Loungelover. Concise and classy is how we like it. There are a total of twelve drinks on the menu, from a classic Dry Martini to a jazzed up Apple Bellini.

Being the dilligent blogger that I have grown to be, I sampled a total of four cocktails. On average, I found them quite nice, not overly sweet or fussy, served in the right glass, and carefully prepared. I particularly liked the Spitfire, cognac, creme de peche, white wine, lemon juice and sugar. Perfectly balanced, not sweet, not too strong, just right. The serafin, a tequila/pear/ginger beer type thing, was a bit on too much on the wrong side of washing-up liquid for my taste, though.

This place gets props for creating an environment where the focus is on the drinks, and where the barman really is the centre of attention. Upon closer inspection, it felt like something was still a bit off, the furnishings a bit cheap, the white tile floor a bit more bodega than speakeasy.But the vibe is laid back, the cocktails overall are good, and the crowd young, rowdy, and unpretentious. Definitely a go.


69 Colebrooke Row


Tel. 07540528593