OnForm Autumn 2012
“My skin still crawls if you call me a movie star”
Road testing the Ferrari California
On the slopes of Zermatt
China, the Sleeping Giant Inside the world’s newest superpower
Admiral Sir George Zambellas
A passion for your craft
Every Overfinch is a personal creation, designed to the most exacting standards. Yours.
LUXURY, REDEFINED. FOR OVER THIRTY YEARS, WE’VE BEEN SETTING NEW STANDARDS IN LUXURY, PERFORMANCE AND VISUAL STYLING FOR THE RANGE ROVER. THE OVERFINCH VOGUE GT IS NO EXCEPTION.
Editorial Right: Kate Winslet in a backless number having just popped out for a pint at the local.
Editor In case you missed the news, the world is about to end. That’s right, you heard me: the world is going to end on December 21. Don’t ask how or why, it just is, so deal with it. Christmas is cancelled; our days are officially numbered. Forget your plans, your worries, that juicy bonus, the national debt, poverty, world peace, forget everything – it’s over. Instead, walk up to that office intern you’ve had your eye on and say “How about it, love – fancy one for the road?” So, why exactly is the world going to end? It depends on who you talk to. The Mayan calendar, on which mainstream conspiracy is based, inexplicably stops on that day. New Agers predict a transcendence of consciousness, a neo-enlightenment. Pseudo-scientists anticipate a polar shift. Geeks reckon an asteroid is headed towards Earth. Survivalists are preparing for governments to turn against us. Fundamentalists want to usher in Armageddon. Paranoids think sudden thermonuclear warfare will obliterate everything. And you can just tell they’re all waiting to say “I told you so” with incontinent glee. Shame we won’t be around to hear it. I used to love a good conspiracy. That was until I met conspiracy theorists, who, on the whole, are insufferable wretches. But everyone, theorist or not, has a Watergate. Most of us have heard whispers from a friend whose uncle was there when it happened. “Yeah, he was a maintenance man at the underground base where they brought the alien.” Each one of us has a suspicion, an inkling, an Illuminati-sized hole in our lives, whether it’s climate change, JFK, Elvis, Bohemian Grove, 9/11, false flag attacks, chemtrails, that deathly smell coming from the house next door. The reason I bring this up is because I watched one of Kate Winslet’s latest film, Contagion, the other day. It reminded me of the theory surrounding avian flu, which claims that the virus was created in a laboratory and released on purpose, so that governments could vaccinate nations en masse. This stuff writes itself. Even the eponymous ship of Winslet’s breakthrough film, Titanic, is tangled in conspiracy – the most enduring of which purports that the real Titanic never sank
and was part an elaborate insurance scam. You just can’t trust those pesky industrialists. But it’s Winslet who provides ONFORM with a coup this issue (and my favourite front cover too). Emily Bowers traces Winslet’s journey, from bit-parts in BBC dramas to leading roles in Hollywood. Bowers captures Winslet at her most candid, discussing the surrealism of Hollywood, the media’s glare, her professional relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio, and everything in between.
“Bowers captures Winslet at her most candid, discussing the surrealism of Hollywood, the media’s glare, her professional relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio, and everything in between” Elsewhere, you can read about my visit to China, where I take an eyeopening tour of Beijing and Xian; Peter Robinson reports from the slopes of Zermatt; Ed Holder talks us through investment risk; Elly Burke delivers her verdict on Novikov; Graeme Morpeth takes the Ferrari California for a ride through France; David Minns delivers his sartorial insight; and we talk to Dolf de Borst, frontman of New Zealand rockers The Datsuns. A damn fine issue, indeed. Until next time – apocalypse pending – stay on form. Laith Al-Kaisy Editor-in-Chief
4 Autumn 2012
Contributors David Minns Something of a renaissance man, Minns loves nothing more than dressing for an occasion, and encouraging others to do the same. In his capacity as Senior Style Advisor for A Suit That Fits, he literally dresses the nation.
Graeme Morpeth Morpeth is an engineer with a love of all things mechanical and automotive. His motoring articles reflect this, as well as a profound knowledge of the oily bits that make them work. A recent move into travel writing has seen even flashier prose.
Eleanor Burke Burke is our London darling, flitting from casting to club, shoot to show. When she isn’t on film, she is very much ONFORM. Burke pens her first piece for us with a review of London’s preeminent eatery, The Goring.
Peter J. Robinson Robinson is our Publishing Director by day and socialite by night. Continually picking the short straw means regular travel to places like New York and Zermatt. His occupation appears to be general jet setting and interviewing the glitterati.
Ben Brundell Brundell is a cinephile and writes on all matters film. He will put pen to paper on other subjects in the near future too. In addition to fulfilling his duties as a film critic, Brundell has produced his own short films and worked as an editor.
Brett Hirt Hirt is the man behind the Rummer Hotel in Bristol. He is also our resident expert on all matters booze. With characteristic charm and wit, Hirt guides us through some of the finest whiskies known to man, all hailing from Japan.
Emily Bowers Bowers is one of those staff writers who you rarely meet. She swans into the office, coated in the scent of Chanel, carrying another A-list scalp. When she reported in from the Paris bureau that she had secured Winslet, we carved another notch on her desk leg in honour.
The Usual Suspects Laith Al-Kaisy – Editor-in-Chief – email@example.com Andrew Hobson – Art Director – firstname.lastname@example.org Peter Robinson – Publishing Director – email@example.com Adam Wood – Director – firstname.lastname@example.org
Model: Alex Geerman Photographers: Ty Mecham, William Soragna Creative Director: Kai Waterton
GMM Publishing First Floor, Prudential Buildings, 11-19 Wine Street, Bristol, UK BS1 2PH | +44 (0)117 3702 471 | gmmpublishing.com GMM Publishing is a trading name of Get Media Management LTD registered in England at 1st Floor, Prudential Buildings, 11-19 Wine Street, Bristol, BS1 2PH, Company Registration Number; 07663086. All content Copyright © 2012, Get Media Management Ltd ONF ORM Magazine’s content (including any information we publish regarding Third Party Products) is only for your general information and entertainment purposes and is not intended to address your particular requirements. In particular, any content publishing within this magazine, or on onformmagazine.com, does not constitute any form of advice, recommendation, representation, endorsement or arrangement by ONF ORM Magazine. It is not intended to be and should not be relied upon by readers in making (or refraining from making) any specific investment, purchase, sale or other decisions. Appropriate independent advice should be obtained before making any such decision, such as from a qualified financial adviser. Any agreements, transactions or other arrangements made between you and any third party named within ONF ORM Magazine are at your own responsibility and entered into at your own risk. Any information that you receive via ONF ORM Magazine, whether or not it is classified as ”real time”, may have stopped being current by the time it reaches you. Share price information may be rounded up/down and therefore may not be entirely accurate.
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21 Cover Story 29. Kate Winslet
Money & Business 48. Investment Risk 76. Stressed Out Air, Land & Sea 09. Ferrari California 17. Admiral Zambellas 49. Spitfire. Achtung POA! 52. Watkins Superyachts Food & Drink 14. Pierre Koffmann 56. The Rib Room 57. Japanese Whisky 59. Gerard Bassett 58. Novikov 60. Andoni Luis Aduriz
“The Cali excelerates at roughly the same speed as Mjölnir, when released by Thor”
6 Autumn 2012
“According to the Hindu religion, the world is just a dream. As soon as Shiva wakes up, we all vanish. If that is true, it’s all the more reason to go big”
Style 35. The Advisory 38. New York with Love 54. Interior Motive 72. Objets du Désir Travel 21. China 26. China Hotels 44. Zermatt 79. Country Castle Culture 63. Reel Talk 64. Film Poster Art 66. The Thick of It 69. The Datsuns ONF ORM 7
errari taken over to Europe to make sure that the natives are not ‘too restless’. Speed essential to report from the ground, so the latest Ferrari California 30 was chosen for the journey. It was to take four days, 1605 miles, and visits to Paris, Bordeaux, and Le Mans to confirm that the bad weather had not unsettled the natives, and that the entente was still cordiale. ‘Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough! It isn’t fit for humans now’, opined John Betjeman in his famous ten-stanza poem of 1937. Fast forward 75 years, and ‘we are fortunate now’ that the majority of the 850 factories that incurred his wrath have disappeared, replaced with shining structures of steel and glass, altars to electronic gallimaufry. Oh, and most importantly, the headquarters of Cavallino Rampante, otherwise known as Ferrari (North Europe), from whence we collected the California 30, to carry us on our trip to France and back. The California is a model which scored a number of firsts for Ferra-
ri: a front mounted V8; direct fuel injection; seven-speed double clutch gearbox (with super-fast gear changes); folding steel roof; stop-start system; magnetorheological dampers, and a multi-link rear suspension system. In addition the car is fitted with an F1-inspired traction control system, which includes launch control. This latter feature disables the traction control system, and allows the car to accelerate at roughly the same speed as Mjölnir, when released by Thor. Designed for the track and the road, let there be no doubt that this car has racing in its DNA, as has every Ferrari road car since the 1947 125 S, powered by a 1.5 L V12 engine, Enzo Ferrari’s first road car. Our California was (still is, I imagine) fitted with the latest 490 bhp/505 Nm engine, and an astonishing £106,000 worth of factory fit accessories, which brought its total value to just over £258,000. I had expected the standard red paint, cream leather interior mix; I was delighted with a beautiful Bianco Fuji pearlescent exterior complete with a Nero Opaco roof, and a cabin lined with grey leather and alcantara. Our progress was also made
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easier with air-conditioning and cruise control, though the extras I was especially grateful for were the carbon fibre framed racing seats; without doubt, the most comfortable car seats I have practised posterior placement upon. We stopped every 260 miles or so to refuel, and just jumped out, no squeaks or creaks, aches or pains; we were fine as well. It is a magnificent drive. Most cars have some slop somewhere in the drive-train, steering, brakes or suspension. This one doesn’t. The gear changes are completed so fast that there is virtually no interruption to the car’s progress, with no hesitation at the point of changing gear. Turn the steering wheel and the response is direct and linear; the car moves immediately, the feedback is precise. The carbon ceramic brakes, originally launched on the Enzo, are immensely powerful and easy to modulate, do not fade, and save approximately 4kg per wheel, so the un-sprung weight is reduced and the suspension benefits accordingly. The steering wheel, a £4231 extra, fitted with the now-obligatory manettino, and a bright red engine start button, was a delight to hold; a beautifully finished creation of leather and aluminium. It was like holding the helm of a rocket-ship. The first stage of our French odyssey took us anti-clockwise around London’s largest multi-lane car-park, complete with optimistic and varied speed limit signs, and eventually on to the M20 and Dover, home to P&O Ferries with whom we completed the trans-channel part of the trip. The journey to Paris was uneventful, the E15 proving to be billiard table smooth and ‘swift’ to drive. Negotiating the Peripherique, in a city known for audible driving was always going to a trial, but, without
so much as a petite craquement to interrupt our progress, we arrived at the magnificence that is the Saint James Paris, the only chateau in Paris; the rest, we were later assured by the Countess de la Barre, are only hotels. How right she was! The chateau was originally commissioned in the mid-1890s by Madame Thiers, in memory of her husband and former President of the Republic, Adolphe Thiers, as the Thiers Foundation. From that time until 1985 it served as a boarding school, offering scholarships for gifted but penniless undergraduates. Between ‘85 and ‘91, the chateau was turned into a private club, and was also used as asset for a number of TV chat shows. Salvation from the tawdry shackles of the media came in the form of the Bertrand family, who already owned the four-star Relais Christine Hotel in Saint Germain. They acquired the Saint James Club and proceeded to develop its hotel business. 2008 was the year that marked the most extraordinary event in the chateau’s history. The Bertrand family commissioned Bambi Sloan, a poetic, wild-eyed FrancoAmerican visionary of unorthodox interior design, and give her carte blanche to turn the chateau into an extravagant family townhouse. The result blends fictional, factual, historical, cinematographical and literary references, as diverse Napoleon III, The Avengers, My Fair Lady, Ascot races and Josephine de Beauharnais, to produce an extravagant interior, rich in trompe l’oeil details. Bambi Sloan’s interpretation of the spa area is as avant-garde as the rest of the building. She has used a subtle blend of oriental and western
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themes for the decoration: tiling featuring arabesque patterns, like a
“The Cali excelerates at roughly the same speed as Mjölnir, when released by Thor” carpet, leading to the changing rooms and hammams; and for the fitness room, she chose the shock of contrasting antique chandeliers and Versailles floorboards, with state-of-the-art exercise machines. The spa also hosts Gemology, founded by Chrystelle Lannoy. It is the first comprehensive range of cosmetics to use precious and semi-precious stones, to take full advantage of the very high trace element content of the minerals in the stones. The heart of the chateau is undoubtedly the kitchen where Virginie Basselot has just settled in, after a nine year stint at the Bristol, where she ascended the ranks to become Premier Sous Chef and gain her third Michelin star. Her dishes reflect this background: they are thoughtful, bright, and her clever play of flavours preserves the taste of each product used. For the summer she has created: bass tartare; wasabi root and herbs crumpets; quail stuffed with foie gras; raspberries with white chocolate emulsion and caramelized pistachios, to name a few. Her expertise and craftsmanship makes the Saint James the place to go. After a typical, but beautifully presented French breakfast (café, croissants, jambon, fromage et confiture), we set off to face the capital’s manic traffic, in search of the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame, for some photography. After a couple of hours, our job
was done, and we set off for Bordeaux; ‘only’ 585 kilometres to go. Despite the pleasure of driving a thoroughbred Cavallino Rampante, 585 kilometres is a long haul, even on the excellent, though expensive, peages, and with cruise control set at Warp 6, we proceeded apace. We were mightily pleased to see Bordeaux. Bordeaux is often referred to as Le Petit Paris, and such is the magnificence of the architecture that more than half the ground area of the city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and described as ‘an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble of the 18th century’. This would not surprise Victor Hugo, who once stated ‘take Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux.’ The Grand Hotel De Bordeaux and Spa reflects this: it is a mighty edifice, an architectural masterpiece, built in the style of the Grand Theatre de Bordeaux, under the guidance of Victor Louis, one of France’s most renowned architects. To see both buildings facing each other across the Place de la Comedie is to understand the splendour of France’s baroque epoch. The interior is equally opulent: Jacques Garcia, the renowned interior designer, has created an atmosphere that showcases this pomp and grandeur, and creates a superb space for guests and staff alike. Within a few seconds of arriving at the edge of the great square, a concierge had appeared to unload the car, and whisk it off to the underground car park. We retired to the bar for several well-earned bières seize cent soixante-quatre. Dinner was ordered through the Brasserie l’Europe, which is watched over by Pascal Nibaudeau, who also runs the hotel’s
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The entrance hall of the Saint James Paris
The view from the Grand Hôtel Bordeaux across the square to the Grand Théâtre
The rooftop terrace offered a magnificent view at the Grand Hotel
restaurant, the one-Michelin-star Le Pressoir d’Argent. Pascal’s excellence was reflected in the dishes we ordered: Peter’s foie gras risotto, candied tomatoes, pesto and brown jus was a masterpiece, and my own roasted sea bass with thyme and grilled vegetables was delicate, bursting with flavour and beautifully moist. After a typical café and croissant breakfast taken outside on the Brasserie L’Europe terrace, in the warm early morning sunshine, it was time for photography, with the 21st century bodywork of the Ferrari, and the 18th century architecture of the hotel providing a wonderful juxtaposition of styles and timeframes. We were then given a tour of the hotel by Gregory Vacca, the Head Concierge. It is a remarkable building, combining the original façade and four other buildings to give it a huge internal space. We saw the splendour of the three wining and dining areas within the hotel, each a place to enjoy sweet and savoury palates of taste and colour. L’Orangerie was a further contrast to these areas, designed as a winter garden, under a glass roof, and set in the centre of the hotel; a place for afternoon tea, or relaxed business meetings. There is more though, from meeting rooms decorated in the style of Napoleon III, to the Private Member’s Club, adjacent to the hotel, where one might have discrete conversations with one’s mistress before retiring for further intimacy, or heaven forbid, one’s own wife, though someone else’s would probably be preferable. Discretion we were assured comes as second nature to all the staff. The spa, set on the fifth and sixth floors, is a place for relaxation and pampering, boasting an array of state-of-the-art devices, aimed at exercising the flesh and soothing the spirit. The whole spa is decorated in the style of a Patrician villa, with many motifs depicting Apollo and Aphrodite: marble, Roman beds and rich hanging fabrics round off the effect. A quick photo-shoot at the blackened and brooding WW11 submarine pens, and then on to the Château de la Barre; a quick and
easy journey. The chateau, set in a gentle hollow in the countryside outside Saint Calais, has been in the Vanssay family since around 1400, and has been added to at regular intervals since that time. In its latest iteration,
“Ghosts of drivers and cars lurk in the background, the whoosh and roar of engines seems imminent” the old and new sit wonderfully well together, with the interior décor, supervised by Countess Marnie Vanssay, reflecting this. We were warmly welcomed and ushered to our rooms to freshen up, before setting off to Le Relais d’Antan for dinner. Le Relais d’Antan is owned by one of France’s top celebrity chefs, Paul Van Gessel, who began his career with Mr Charles Barrier at his eponymous three-Michelin-star restaurant in Tours. Paul won the Prix Taittinger in 1976 for his turban lobster, before moving to direct the kitchens of Petit Nice in Marseille, where he earned two Michelin stars. His career was then guided to the Champs Elysees in Paris, to the Crown Restaurant in the Hotel Warwick, where he received a Michelin star, which he held for 14 years. In 1999, he bought the Relais d’Antan, in Lavardin, and effectively turned his back on the world of Monsieur Bibendum and his stars, to settle down and run the restaurant just the way he wants. We both tried his signature hors d’oeuvre dish of lasagne de langoustine: delicate wafer thin sheets of pasta interspersed with
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Kakou the parrot sits atop the £258’000 Ferrai with Comtesse Marnie de Vanssay
Bordeaux’s impressive u-boat bunker
thin slivers langoustine, covered in a subtle sauce; melt in the mouth. The next day, after another simple petit déjeuner, we set off with two objectives in mind: a visit to the Jasnieres winery, and thereafter to Le Mans, to pay homage to the brave, fast and furious men and machines involved in Le Vingt – quatre heures du Mans. The Jasnieres vineyard is on one side of the road, and the winery, set into caves in the hillside, keeping the bottles cool and dry, on the other. Entranced by the owner’s daughter, a subtly-curved brunette, we bought eighteen bottles of her finest reds and whites, before setting off for The Circuit. A request to the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) to photograph the Ferrari both on the starting grid of the circuit and in the pit lane was swiftly agreed to. Access was allowed at 18:00. About two hours remained, so we toured the museum, wherein lay some of the most iconic Le Mans winning cars of all time: magnificent Jaguars, Porsches, Fords, Ferraris, and Audis – too many to take in all at once. The surprise was the number of grand pre and post war Renaults, Peugeots, Panhards, Voisins and Hispano Suizas on display. The latter three luxury marques ended production some decades ago; the former produced beautiful grand tourers, and limousines far removed from the proletarian tinboxes they churn out today. The empty circuit is an eerie place. Ghosts of drivers and cars lurk in the background, the whoosh and roar of engines seems imminent, and the stands redolent of the crowds sharing the triumphs and disasters of the teams: from the nadir of the 1955 tragedy to the zenith of the 1995 race, in which McLaren entered three F1 GTR cars, which came in first, second and third, a feat never before achieved, in a first race by a new entrant. To park in pole position, in a Ferrari, was, for your scribe, an extra-ordinary experience; it completed our homage to this greatest of motor racing circuits. We left and floated back to the chateau, heady on scent of high octane fuels and burnt rubber, courtesy of the circuit,
Greme Morpeth, alone but on track
The King of Cool
and anticipating the formal dinner that was to come. Dinner at the château, in the formal dining room, with the Count and Countess de Vanssay in attendance, was a splendid affair. After champagne cocktails in the Salon Rosé, we moved to the dining room, with the table set using the Vanssay family’s centuries-old silver service, porcelain and glassware. We started with a soufflé made from Le Petit Troo, a local cheese, followed by tournedos fillet de boeuf with tarragon sauce, medallion potatoes and courgettes, all from the châteaux gardens. A cheese dish, containing a selection of cheeses from the across the region, along with a superb Jasniéres red followed. Coffee and a mouth-watering chocolate mousse were served in the Grand Salon, which was last decorated in 1778. The cuisine was superb, the wines eminently palatable and the company humorous; wine, and words flowed in equal measure! Our return to Calais and Slough the next day involved an early start, blasting through misty roads around Le Mans, helped by the Ferrari’s intuitive and user-friendly sat-nav system. The Cali once again impressing us with its ‘bahn-storming performance, and relatively parsimonious fuel consumption: about 20 mpg over the whole trip; astonishing really, given the levels of performance available. We arrived in Calais in plenty of time for the 15:30 ferry. Our trip across the Channel was uneventful, marked by sour-looking black clouds scudding across the sky, dropping the occasional spot of rain. The journey back to Slough took longer than expected, despite a lax interpretation of the national speed limit, whilst keeping up with the flow of traffic. The folk at Ferrari were very pleased to see us return their mighty machine, even more so when it proved to be unscathed, after our many miles and tight parking places. And it is a mighty machine: scary fast if required, unexpectedly modest with its precious fuel, and subtly curved for cleaving the air at improbably high speeds.
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Cuisine: Pierre koffmann
“People will remember me for the pig’s trotters. It will be on my tombstone” Pierre Koffmann was born in Tarbes, France, in 1948. After working the kitchens in Strasbourg and Toulon, he relocated to London in 1970, working with Michel Roux and Albert Roux at Le Gavroche. He soon took the role of head chef at the Roux’s Waterside Inn in Bray, in 1972, before finally opening his own restaurant, La Tante Claire, in 1977. Koffmann won much acclaim and many accolades during this time, not least three Michelin stars. After a brief hiatus, Koffmann returned to cooking in 2010, opening the eponymous Koffmann’s at The Berkeley – a far more informal affair, focusing less on Michelin stars and more on the chef’s culinary heritage. We met with Koffmann to discuss the ethos behind his new restaurant, and why he is no longer driven by those prized Michelin stars. What is the philosophy behind Koffmann’s? I like to cook the kind of food I like to eat. Koffmann’s at The Berkeley is a more relaxed, informal style, while still embracing my classic, provincial, French culinary roots. What are the key factors to running a successful restaurant? I think it is important to work hard, have drive and be passionate. What is the dish you are most proud of and why? People will remember me for the pig’s trotters. It will be on my tombstone, but I feel I’ve done so much more. In your opinion, how has food in the UK evolved over the years? It has evolved tremendously. There are better ingredients, and restaurants are becoming more open minded of their customers.
Who influenced you to become a chef, and how did you train? I was influenced by grandmother, Camille. I went to cooking school in Tarbes, and the rest is history! You opened at The Berkeley in 2010. What has the response been like? The response has been wonderful. I’m just happy to be back behind the stove, cooking for people who love to eat. You have been quoted as saying you are no longer concerned with Michelin stars. Why is this? For a long while, I had three. Now, I cook from the heart and don’t think about getting Michelin stars. What was your favourite meal as a child? My favourite meal as a child was one my grandmother cooked so well: ragout d’abattis. Do you have a favourite restaurant? My favourite restaurant is the Bacon at Cap d’Antibes. Do you have any favourite English restaurants or chefs? There are so many to choose. It depends on my mood. But I really enjoy Bistro Bruno Loubet. For further information, please refer to The Directory on page 83
14 Autumn 2012
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I N T E R V I E W: A D M I R A L S I R G E O R G E Z A M B E L L A S
Peter Robinson semaphores Admiral Sir George Zambellas about the Royal Navy’s future afloat.
dmiral Sir George Zambellas is a man who has to think big. As the Royal Navy’s “Fleet Commander” his responsibilities include not only getting the Royal Navy’s ships, submarines, aircraft, sailors and Royal Marines to sea, worldwide; he also commands major NATO maritime operations from NATO’s UK-based Headquarters in Northwood, London. Since joining the Royal Navy in 1980, he has been constantly challenged, initially as a helicopter pilot in the Fleet Air Arm, subsequently commanding a mine hunter, HMS CATTISTOCK (each of these ships is named after an English county hunt) the frigate HMS ARGYLL and, during the conflict in Sierra Leone, taking HMS CHATHAM upriver to support jungle-based UK forces. As Chief of Staff at the UK’s Joint Headquaters, he supported operations in Afghanistan between 2007
and 2009, and was appointed to the rank of full Admiral earlier this year. When we meet at his office in the NATO HQ, he is in expansive mood and starts by describing what the Royal Navy is doing round the world; from their supporting role in Afghanistan (“too often overlooked, but then, people tend to view Afghanistan as an exclusively landbased campaign – our Royal Marines, Harrier and helicopter pilots, observers and aircrewmen, medical, logistics experts have been there throughout”), through the Navy’s stewardship of the UK’s submarinebased nuclear deterrent (“365 days a year, non-stop, for over 40 years – part of the grown-up insurance policy ”) to the work of the surface fleet (“everywhere from the South Atlantic to the Gulf, protecting the UK’s strategic interests – security and stability in everything; including counter-piracy, counter-narcotics and policing the international straits through which the trade and goods on which we depend flow.”) But what about the Admiral himself? How does he see his role and
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that of the Royal Navy? What the Navy does has evolved throughout our history. It’s a history which is closely and fundamentally connected to Britain’s identity as a maritime nation, but the key characteristics remain pretty constant. At the individual level, it has always been about strong leadership, tied in with an understanding of what it means to operate in a unique and dangerous environment – the oceans. When I think about what access to the sea means in military terms, I must consider the totality – the sea’s relationship with the land that borders it, how we exploit the air above and the waters beneath. It is the Navy’s ability to conduct operations at sea, in the air and – with our amphibious commandos, the Royal Marines – on the land, which gives UK defence the greatest possible choice in meeting the Government’s needs. We saw last year in Libya how that flexibility can bring results, but it also means we are equally professionally comfortable contributing to operations in Afghanistan. How is all of that achieved from a Navy which is now the smallest of the Armed Forces? Isn’t there a concern, for example, that the Navy is becoming too small to meet its commitments? If anything, the demand for what we do is on the increase, and I’m not surprised about the growing strategic focus on maritime issues. If you look at the Government’s stated priorities in their National Security Strategy, these reflect the enduring maritime aspects of what matters for Britain’s place in the world. Given the range and complexity of our strategic interests, the requirement to be able to project power around the world isn’t about to go away. But that doesn’t mean Defence gets a blank cheque, nor should it. The UK can only have the Armed Forces
it can afford. That’s nothing new. The real issue is how best to maintain the balance within the golf bag of military capabilities we are using today and also be ready for tomorrow. It’s not as simple as saying “if we invest in more tanks, it will mean less aircraft; the complexity lies in how we generate those forces, how we sustain them in the right place, at the right state of readiness, and how we develop their ability to operate together and with allies or in coalition. It is about professional partnership, in the strategic context. So, my job is to ensure that the Royal Navy works well – together, and with others. A warship is an inherently flexible asset, whether acting alone or as part of a larger task group – it can do war fighting if need be, but its mere presence off a potentially hostile coast can work wonders in terms of deterring potential aggressors, evacuating our nationals from hot spots overseas or delivering humanitarian aid. That is an immensely valuable tool for those who dictate policy. No footprint ashore – no embroilment – unless you choose to. But being good enough calls for hard, realistic training, operational expertise in the maritime environment, and above all, high quality people – my responsibility is to pull together that collective effort, but also to give those under my command the confidence to innovate, to try new ways of doing things. It is our willingness to experiment, and our ability to manage risk intelligently, which can really make the difference. Talking of risk, where does the Fleet Commander see risks to UK security in the coming years? You won’t be surprised to hear that my primary focus – for the Royal Navy – remains the Gulf region. It’s where so many of the UK’s
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HMS DARING sails through the Gibraltar Strait on her maiden deployment to the Middle East
national interests converge; not just the energy supplies, gas as well as oil, but the UK’s collective security arrangements through NATO, the threat of instability across the Middle East and of course the very many thousands of UK citizens and their families who live and work there. The Navy has been operating there for over 30 years and we have forged close links within the region which work to mutual advantage, reassuring our friends and contributing to stability. The challenge is to ensure that our particular skills and experience remain sharpened and ready to respond. On the future, much has been made in recent months of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. How does the Admiral see the longterm prospects for these vessels? Do they still matter? Yes, I am absolutely clear that both are central to the security posture for this island nation. The policy case for having them has long been established and subsequent reviews keep coming to the same conclusion – carriers and the aircraft and vehicles that will fly from them will be central to the UK’s strategic ambition for years to come. For the price we are paying, we must get every ounce of value out of them during their 50 years or so of service. Substantial progress in their build is being made – I’m not just talking about the fact that there are tens of thousands of tonnes of steel already being formed into the building blocks of the Queen Elizabeth Class at Rosyth dockyard, you also have to look at the political reality. Maritime effect fits comfortably across strategic boundaries. Carrier operations are something not many nations can do, and which few do well or efficiently, but the Royal Navy has a track record of success in this area. It’s a strategic issue and
it needs to be approached from that perspective. Finally, a moment for personal reflection: how has the Navy changed in the 32 years since Sub Lieutenant Zambellas began flying training?We’ve come a long, long way since the symmetry and tensions of the Cold War, but we’re not complacent. Any organisation above a certain size has to remain wary of the risk of becoming hidebound, stuck in the past and so on. Equally, we don’t want to fall into the trap of changing things for change’s sake, because a lot of what we do reflects hard-won experience and makes sense. There are two things I think: first, the equipment that is being procured for us is extraordinary compared to what once was. Early on, I remember the Captain in my ship being reprimanded for saying that the most powerful computer he had on board was his pocket calculator. Compare that to today’s investment in carriers, Type 45 destroyers, Astute Class attack subs, jets and helicopters. We have much to look forward to – never mind the Type 26 Global Combat Ships to replace the Type 23 frigates. This is an ambition that speaks volumes for the relevance and authority which the Nation seeks from the Navy. But, even though that is extraordinary in tough times, the ‘sailor story’ is even more fundamental. The spirit, humour and professionalism of our sailors and Royal Marines are as recognisable today as they ever were. It is much the same Navy as before, but re-cast for the future. The quality of our people – judged by others, as well by me – is fantastic. The youngsters are our future and I have never been more confident that they will easily match and exceed what my generation has achieved.
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T R AV E L : C H I N A
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE
As we coast through a jigsaw of traffic, my guide points out the sights. “On the left, there’s a new office building. On the right, there’s a government office building. Up ahead, that’s one of the city’s first five-star hotels”. For a country so staunchly proud of its politics, China is overtly obsessed with the superficialities of capitalism. Only here could a bland office block be of any interest, yet there is something forgivably earnest about it. I ask the driver to put some music on, and in the spirit of no-nonsense socialism, he produces a CD, simply called ‘Disco’. Welcome to China, where irony just shrivels up and dies. Laith Al-Kaisy makes his first visit to the world’s newest superpower.
Father and son in Tiananmen Square
Chinaâ€™s impressive nightscape
Third wonder of the world
Lion in the Forbidden City
22 Autumn 2012
Italian wine bar Cambulac in Beijing
Whatever you do, don’t tell anyone that you’re going to China. Not unless you want reaming lists of names, addresses, hints, tips, shortcuts, scenic routes, back roads and warnings. This never happens anywhere else you go, but with China, everyone thinks themselves a Michael Palin, offering itineraries, memos and maps, and saying things like “Well, if you don’t stop in Tongli, you may as well not go at all.” But no single experience can do a location justice. People often say that a country is two places: the place in your mind and the place on the map. However, because so little is ever advertised about China, nothing quite prepares you for it. The China of my mind was a delicate balance between graceful aesthetics and vast traditionalism; obscurity and otherness. But for every perceived truth, there’s an ugly dichotomy. When I first make landfall, it’s in Xian, 550 miles south of Beijing. The city holds the distinction of being the country’s first capital and is therefore steeped in the kinds of feudal stories that make China so tirelessly compelling. The one thing people have here, apart from a militant stoicism, is history. The Chinese cling onto history for dear life. It defines the culture and binds communities. The first local I meet is lady called Penny, who starts a trend that continues throughout the trip: offering mythology as fact. People talk of spectres and spirits with deadpan sobriety, as if they’re telling the world’s oldest joke. Anywhere else, this would be laughable, utter lunacy, but in China, it’s accepted, even believable. Smog enshrouds Xian like smoke in a dragon’s lungs. Everything has a hoary, socialist haze, both pallid and indifferent, and the sky hangs, burdened and tense, like the city’s dirty laundry. It all feels on the brink of chaos; a peaceful schizophrenia that’s about to erupt. The only discernible colour belongs to the radioactive slogans on billboards, all of which advertise exclamation-point cures to untranslatable ills. Driving from the airport, the roads are a struggle between traditional values and imported wonder, and you’re confronted with juxtapositions of poverty and wealth; power and hopelessness; of natural beauty and striving progressionism. I’m told that Xian is turning into an economic hub, yet the divide between prosperity and abjection remains desperately stark, with proud monuments to business overshadowing dilapidated estates. Everywhere you look, there is binary metaphor, pitiless irony and political contradiction. My hotel is adjacent to the technology zone, which sounds a bit like the Crystal Maze, but with all the industriousness of a Rampant Rabbit: bright, fast, self-satisfying, but ultimately onanistic. Gentrified places such as these shaft the common person, a corridor of corruption and avarice. An article I read on the plane reported how university students are being forced to work as interns at an iPhone factory, on the production line, due to a shortage of labour. Even in the land of dualism, Apple is still the antichrist. My first stop is the world’s unofficial Eighth Wonder, the terracotta
“China wears its tea ceremony with simpering pride”
The Terracotta Army, Xian
army, which is the one story that China wants to tell more than any other. Xian has more historical sites than you can shake a chopstick at, but it’s this army of the afterlife that put the city on the map. The surrounding gardens of the excavation pits show the country at its supernal best, lending credence to all the mythology and magic expounded by the locals. It’s all dewy flora, balmy mist, gloating crickets, and haunting tranquility. The breeze kisses your ear, as faint as a Chinese whisper. This was the China of my mind; it actually exists. A short, dainty walk leads to the 8,000-strong clay army, which was commissioned in 209 BC by China’s unifying emperor, Qin Shi Huang, to guard his tomb. However, no news story or travel piece can ever prepare you for the magnitude of seeing the warriors for the first time. There’s no warm-up act, no curtain that comes up, and once you’ve fought past the gaggles of domestic tourists, you’re suddenly there, staring at 8,000 pugnacious men with fragmented souls. It’s not starting at the statues that leaves your heart in your mouth, but having the statues stare back at you. They’re as grim, grey and deeply ethereal as everything else in Xian. The pits smell as old and storied as a childhood book. And the more you stare, the more you wonder, not just about the powerful vastness of it all, but the seeming impossibility of it too. What kind of early civilisation could achieve such complexity? You realise that no view of human history can ever be accurate without an understanding of what happened in Xian 2,200 years ago. There is a traditional tearoom here too. China wears its tea ceremony with simpering pride. This is a country that spits on the floor and pisses in a hole, but drinks a cuppa with complete balletic propriety. The hostess hands me a menu that reads like an alchemist’s delivery note. I thumb through the runic incantations, made from flower petals, leaves, barks and herbs; brews that will make you younger, happier, healthier and hornier. With Zen diligence, she makes the ONF ORM 23
Xian at dusk
tea, all splashing, spilling and sieving. I can’t remember what I order, something with dragon’s dung perhaps, but it makes my cheeks wince and my lips curl. I finish up, say my zài-jiàns, and walk to the gift shop. Here you can meet Yang Zhifa, the chap who found the terracotta army, who is paid around $200 a month to sign memorabilia. His story is heartbreakingly tragic. This genial octogenarian – weathered and skeletal – whose discovery generates millions of dollars, much of which lines the pockets of officials and businessmen, has never seen a cent. It says more about the relationship between the state and the body politic than anything else I see on the trip. Back in the city centre, I stop at a family-run diner with some fellow hacks from the UK. This place is heaving with locals, all enunciating through gobfuls of food. So-called experts always say that you should experience a city as the locals do. Well, put it this way, if you’d visited Bristol last week and experienced what I do in my city, it would have put you off travelling for life. You would have skipped between a flat, an office, a cafe, a few bars, a restaurant and M&S. The idea that there are real and unreal experiences is both duplicitous and pretentious, and recommending someone to eat here is the cultural equivalent of sending Mr Chang to a greasy spoon in Milton Keynes. Yes, it’s popular with the locals, not because it serves the best food in town, but because the produce is cheap, the production is cheap, and the prices are cheap. The food is typically Chinese: noodle soups, pork ribs, stirfried vegetables, and sautéed meats. It’s all edible, just not memorable. When people say “Chinese takeaway isn’t the same as food in China,” I can see why. I’m not trying to put the little man out of business, but for gastronomic food in Xian, go to a proper restaurant or a hotel. Siam Garden Terrace is a good start. We talk with two Chinese women and the conversation turns to history – again – only this time, an international dispute: what was invented first, noodles or pasta? Surely noodles have been around much longer? Being no historian, I tell the women to leave a hundred monkeys in a room with some eggs and flour, and see which dish they come up with first. The locals will tell you that Xian is the real China, where all the history and authenticity lies, but I get the feeling that every community, however big or small, says the same thing. No one seems to think in modern terms, and people are obsessed with rolling and folding centuries of history into dim-sum-sized mouthfuls. Except the kids, of course. I’m told that, due to the one-child policy, there is a generation of spoilt children who have lost the Chinese identity, the work ethic, the political respect, and who would rather pick up a KFC bucket than a pair of chopsticks. Despite this, Xian is a font of erudition and interest, relentlessly absorbing, both aesthetically and intellectually. The history here may be impossible to deny, yet the future is endlessly uncertain. The visit is fleeting, but worth every second. “It’s forbidden to talk about what happened here in 1989,” says Angela, my Beijing guide, in hushed shorthand. I believe her too. I have never been to a place as intimidating as Tiananmen Square, not
because you can see the oppression, but because you can’t. This was the site of the ‘89 protests, where the Chinese military opened fire on activists, and you can still feel the anguish in the air. China’s government, its collective fear, looms menacingly on the horizon, spreading its shadowy tentacles, like an omniscient octopus, throughout the national psyche. There is a heightened awareness to everything, and the Stalinist architecture serves as a physical reminder of a subjugated people. A giant picture of Chairman Mao hangs on the Gate of Heavenly Peace – it’s a cruel joke, a painful irony, but one the majority of Chinese, many of whom still revere the man, seem oblivious to. Looking around, eighty percent of the people are domestic tourists, all heading to the Forbidden City, a citadel where emperors lived gilded lives for generations, completely shut off from the public they ruled. The stories are of combat, carnality and deception; of unmerciful emperors who had armies in the thousands and equally large numbers of concubines, which is far too much posse for any man. The complex is vast: 720,000 square metres, 9000 rooms. The hundreds of classical structures are punctuated by the symbolism of colours and numbers, while the positioning of everything is dictated by feng shui and yinyang; flow and balance. Entranceways are guarded by two lions, male and female, with ornate cedar walls that ascend to arching rooftops overseen by dragons, and every detail is examined by the Chinese visitors with forensic care. Most of it only dates back to the eighteenth century, due to fires and restoration, but don’t tell them that. Despite being a vast sprawl of samenessness and repetition, the Forbidden City is impressive, and I understand why the Chinese enjoy it too – for a moment, their cultural legends become tangible. But it also affirms why the country is so crippled. China’s leaders, including Mao, have always been elevated to the status of gods, and the Forbidden City is proof of this. Men lived as untouchable deities, mainly because China’s religions and philosophies are so passive and fluffy. Everything is entwined with animism, ancestor worship, folklore, ghosts, anthropomorphism, therianthropy, bestial guardians and vegetative remedies, giving exceptionalism to all but the human being. There’s no salvation, no hope, no sense of individuality, and people are marginal to a higher nature. Throw in communism and it just becomes a depressing round of social responsibility and civic duty. Outside the city walls, a teenager jogs up and asks if his father can have a photograph taken with me. Perhaps he’s read a copy of ONFORM and seen my photograph. Maybe he’s my first Chinese fan. Nope, he just wants his photo taken with a white man. “Ahh, Engerish” he says through a transnational smile. Though flattering and baffling, I realise that this isn’t China, not even Beijing. It’s where simple folk come to gawp and fawn. And while endlessly fascinating, the Forbidden City is a museum, a place of the past, and cities should never allow the past to dominate the present. I needed to find the new Beijing. I meet with Alice McInerney, the fashion editor of Time Out, and we saunter around the hutongs of Dongcheng. This is proletariat country, chaotically ordered and cacophonous. Vendors bark for cus-
24 Autumn 2012
tom, children occupy the streets, scooters weave with sanctimonious disregard, and tourists walk with bug-eyed intrigue. There is a rawness here, one that is missing in Xian. Hutongs are the cogs and wheels of the Chinese culture; the country with its lid off. The men are uniformly cold and completely indistinguishable, sporting short-back-and-sides, and the nondescript fashion sense of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The girls are feline-pretty and doe-eyed, with cheekbones that arc like the Soviet sickle. Modern Chinese women put their intellect before their ego, which explains how they pull off geek-chic with such impossible cool. The trade is mostly souvenir tat and street food – fatty, fishy and frugal – and the smell is of rancid oil, exhaust pipes and Marlboros. The Chinese pride themselves on serving dishes that are light, but there’s enough grease here to host an orgy. The few art and textile shops seem disconnected, but there’s a reason for this. Alice says that the area was slowly becoming a bohemian centre, until the government realised what was happening and began to commercialise. Alice arrived in Beijing, as so many expats did, during the 2008 Olympics, working as a fixer for the BBC. It’s not hard to understand why westerners never leave; if you know where to go and who to do it with, Beijing is a hub of high living. I’m led down a back alley where Chinese men sit outside their houses, all histrionic, playing board games, drinking tea, admonishing children, and watching us with hankering curiosity. We arrive at what appears to be an abandoned building and Alice makes a telephone call to say we’re outside. This is Wuhao Curated Shop, a huge design space selling furniture, clothes and trinkets by domestic and international artisans. I did not expect to find an entire subculture here; a cabal of creative people working furtively under the government’s radar. This refined subversion is happening everywhere. Nearby is Cambulac, an appointment-only enoteca, tucked away in a back street, which has a gorgeous rooftop terrace, traditional courtyard and ornate Shanghainese furniture. Bottles of wine cost a month’s wage for the man on the street, so there is a cutting sense of regret, as sharp as a Chinese burn, which eventually lessens as my glass does. That evening, a group of us head to Atmosphere, the highest bar in Beijing, on the eightieth floor of the World Summit Wing. Finding money is the curse of the modern city. Everything has to be bigger, better, more popular, more fashionable, and more expensive. Beijing is an architectural cold war, a luxury arms race, a short-term exploitation. No one ever dreamed of this; Beijing isn’t by design. It’s a jungle of best laid plans, conquering egos and penis envy. Products and services are a transient novelty, as in Dubai and Moscow, where contemporary is always temporary. When I speak to one to the staff, she says that Atmosphere can only do so well for so long, before a bar is built on the eighty-first floor of another building. From the ground, Beijing is a wholly impressive and functioning city, yet from here, it’s a science-fiction dystopia: a mix of Blade Runner and Metropolis, with noisy lights, dense pollution, and people going nowhere quickly. But at least, for now, they flock to Atmosphere, which, novelty aside, is sheer indulgence. As with all of modern China, everything’s been imported from the west, including Charly, the head mixologist, who brings us a stunning selection of his signature cocktails. Soon enough, we’re in a cataract of champagne and I’m chewing on the tarry end of a Cohiba. If you find yourself in Beijing, I couldn’t recommend this bar enough. “How was the Great Wall?” is the first question that everyone asks about China. And when I answer, I feel a bit boorish. Hangover or not, I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it. I wasn’t even going to write about it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Great Wall, in fact the Chinese did a good job at keeping those pesky Mongolians out. They blocked, chiselled and grouted their way to thirteen miles of impenetrable protection. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the fascination:
the Wall is nice, in a maudlin, I’m-standing-on-the-Wall kind of way. And I won’t deny that it’s deeply aesthetic – at least from afar – but I could have told you that from a picture. Instead, I have to admit to not having the subtle sensibility to appreciate such a construction, nor the imagination to comprehend its size and significance. But it’s still just a wall, and walls have never really been my bag. That said, the surrounding views are utterly affecting: teeming miles of thickset forest and uninhabited vastness, which cracks and creeps like a Macbethian nightmare. I approach a woman who looks and smells about 130 years old, all toothless and crumpled. She yelps and yaps at me, though I have no idea why. I pick up a snow globe about the size of a golf ball and ask how much. She takes out a piece of paper and scribbles 150, which is about £15. For a communist country, this old-timer’s got capitalism nailed. The one thing about Chinese traders is that they won’t let you leave without a sale – a game I am always happy to play. So, we go back and forth, to and fro, up and down, until she finally sells at £1.50, which is the best haggle of my life. Welcome to the free market, grandma. If it seems as though I didn’t warm to China, something’s gone wrong, because I really did. I loved it more than words can do justice. Was it the China of my mind? In flashes, yes, but that doesn’t matter, because the China I now know is the place on the map and the place on these pages. I wrote a similar article for an international newspaper. My editor said “Your criticisms of the Chinese government jar,” to which I replied “Great, job done, here’s my invoice.” “No,” she said, “I want you to edit it.” This put me in an awkward position, because I couldn’t change my experience, my perception, what I saw, what I felt, or who I spoke to. I couldn’t change my truth. There’s a reason I decided not to concentrate on such things as the cuisine – because it’s not important. Food may be the great metaphor for life, but China is blessed with having bottomless metaphor everywhere you turn. And if you’re the type of person who finds interest in great walls, not in the psychological nuances of a nation, that’s fine, you’ll love China too, because it’s a Lazy Susan of choice and depth and sweet and sour. The drive to the airport is marked by deafening silence. Even the stasis of millions stuck in traffic somehow has meaning here. China’s past and present is a cautionary tale, a parable of how not to run a country. You only have to open a newspaper to see what’s going on. Corruption is rife, mainly because capitalism is the still the country’s dirty secret. China is a nation in the closet. There is money, fathomless money, but it’s traded in bribes, blackmail and backhanders. China may appear to have a communist government that preaches the tenets Maoism, but it is more capitalistic than you or I will ever be. In fact, the only western pretension that China hasn’t seemed to adopt is charity. The bourgeoisie has found the monkey’s paw, but the proletariat are too faithful to their past, their ideals, to rock the corporate boat. They fear change and officialdom. Theirs is a world where a dead man is still in power; where people are privately well-read, but publicly well-Red; and where questioning authority besmirches filial values and face. And this tragic complexity is what makes the country so damn beautiful. An old woman sweeps the road with a brush made of twig. Her pace is painful, going nowhere, just like the traffic. The sight is oddly bizarre, as unremarkable and mundane as the grey office buildings, but it sums up the China of my mind. As the car coasts past, I can see she looks frail, almost ghostlike, dressed in traditional garb and a conical hat. This woman personifies the Chinese struggle; her life has no doubt been spent doing the same Sisyphean task. And though she looks trapped, destined to eke out her days retreading the same steps, you sense she knows the entire story of China as well as she knows that road. And I can’t wait to go down it again.
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T R AV E L : H O T E L S
The sleeping giant China might pride itself on understatement, but that doesn’t mean your holiday or business trip needs to. There are plenty of excellent hotels to choose from, and here are two personal recommendations from the team at ONFORM. Shangri-La Hotel, Xian Located on Keji Road in the city centre, this stunning hotel encompasses everything required from high-end hospitality, and is perfect for whiling away the hours, or recharging after a day’s sightseeing. Idiomatic of Shangri-La, this hotel strikes a unique balance between functionality and aesthetic – we wouldn’t want it any other way. Bedrooms Intelligently laid out, opulently designed, and with breathtaking views, the bedrooms here are something of a retreat: somewhere to work, relax and sleep. Available in Deluxe, Executive and Premier, as well as a range of indulgent suites, all rooms are amply spaced, with modern bathrooms, and those little features that will make you smile. Food Siam Garden serves some of the best food in the city. Head chef Fabrizio Aceti has brought his years of experience to create a menu that truly reflects Asia, all with a contemporary twist. Standout dishes include deep-fried pork spare ribs with garlic and chilli, and braised fish maw. For a proper taste of China, Tian Xiang Ge offers authentic Cantonese cuisine, and beats anything you’ll find walking down the street. The truly epicurean menu features such delicacies as bitter gourd, wok-fried abalone with chilli, as well as favourites like braised beef with vermicelli noodles. Facilities & Services Whatever you do, don’t leave this hotel without experiencing its first-class health and spa facilities. Choose from a range of holistic and rejuvenating massages and treatments, work up a sweat in the state-of-the-art gymnasium, or take a dip in the indoor pool.
China World Summit Wing, Beijing Wow. China World Summit Wing is a huge building, and offers the best panoramic views in Beijing. Situated in the heart of the capital, the hotel takes Chinese decor and gives it a modern spin; a marriage of east and west. Everything here is the tallest and most hi-tech in the city, from the seventy-seventh floor spa to the eightieth-floor bar. Hospitality at its finest. Bedrooms From the Presidential Suite to the Deluxe, each of the World Summit Wing’s bedrooms feature floor to ceiling windows, and even the bathtubs overlook the city. Modernity and traditionalism is subtly entwined, and everything comes as you’d expect: intelligent spacing, stunning pieces of Chinese art, inspiring city views, and ornate desks to do business from. Food Grill 79 is frankly spectacular. The choice of dishes and the quality of ingredients is overwhelming, but head chef Ryan Sablan Dadufalza pulls it off effortlessly. Highlights are the blue lobster and Wagyu beef. For a more traditional experience, Fook Lam Moon serves up authentic Cantonese with gastronomic flair. Do not miss out on Atmosphere, Beijing’s highest bar, and ask Charly to mix you one of his signature cocktails. Facilities & Services The interiors of the indoor pool are completely ethereal, all dark azure, with the sound of cascading water. A classic and contemporary spa menu is delivered by Chinese professionals, including aromatherapies and beauty treatments, and a gymnasium featuring world-class equipment and gadgetry – perfect for sweating out any overindulgence. For further information, please refer to The Directory on page 83
26 Autumn 2012
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Dedicated to you every step of the way
I n t e r v i e w : K a t e Wi n s l e t
Tip of the Iceberg Kate Winslet is one of Hollywoodâ€™s most revered stars. But it hasnâ€™t been plain sailing for the Reading-born actress, as Emily Bowers
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eavenly Creatures was a fantastic film. Aside from being Peter Jackson’s first foray into proper drama, it was the debut of a 19-year-old Kate Winslet. A fantastic mix of downbeat reality and touching fantasy, Heavenly Creatures told the story of two teens attending Christchurch girls’ school, bound by their shared alienation. Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) assumes Juliet (Winslet) is intelligent and elegant; Juliet thinks Pauline represents nononsense authenticity. They bond over Mario Lanza and Orson Welles, and create a fantasy world that becomes increasingly more insular when Juliet is bed ridden, due to a bout of tuberculosis. The couple share their feelings through evocative epistles, getting closer and closer, until their parents and teachers, quietly against the love that seems to be blossoming, attempt to separate them – with fatal consequences. The film was a huge success and garnered much critical acclaim, with Peter Jackson nominated for a Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars. Winslet also received much praise for won her excellent performance as Juliet Hulme; playing the character with a delicate balance of cleverness and verging hysteria. “I was reading the script in the back of the car and I turned to my dad and yelled, ‘I’ve got to get this!’ And he replied, ‘Then you will.’ And I thought, ‘Yep, that’s it. I’m bloody well going to.’ And that was it. I was
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so determined. It was something crucial to my life. I just communicated with her, the story and their relationship. And when I found out, I just couldn’t believe it. I was so happy, I cried. I was working part-time at a deli at the time, because I didn’t have any money. I was in the middle of making a sandwich when they phoned and said I’d got the job. I burst into tears and had to leave work, because I couldn’t control myself. It was absolutely brilliant.” Little did Winslet know that she’d be winning an Oscar and nominated for five others before the age of 34. Even at the tender age of 10, she considered acting to be her career, seizing stage parts wherever she could. She once cried when she won the part of Mary in a school nativity play “because it was so important to me”. Winslet was born on October 5th, 1975, in Reading, Berkshire, to father Roger and mother Sally. She has two sisters, Anna and Beth, and a brother named Joss. Acting ran in the family. Two of her father’s twin relatives starred in vaudeville. Her grandparents on her mother’s side once headed the Reading Repertory Theatre, and her uncle appeared in many stage productions, most memorably as Mr Bumble in the original West End version of Oliver! Her father was also an actor by trade, not only performing onstage, but on a couple of episodes of Casualty; a programme which Winslet would later feature in too. Heavenly Creatures led Winslet to start in a series of six consecutive period dramas, providing a pleasant breather, before a run of demanding literary adaptations. Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet was another critical triumph for Winslet, who played Ophelia. It was upon filming the scene where Ophelia descends into madness that she received a call that would
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change her career forever. After weeks and months of auditioning and hankering, she was offered the lead in James Cameron’s Titanic, after Gwyneth Paltrow had turned it down. At the time, it was the most expensive film ever made. Alongside DiCaprio, she played Rose De Witt Bukater; engaged to the malevolent and snobbish Billy Zane, but finding love with DiCaprio, a street urchin living on the ship. On reflecting back on the time, she says “Things happened in quick succession between the ages of 19 and 22. No wonder I blew up like a balloon. Remember those days? I think it was the Golden Globe year for Titanic, and I was on a red carpet and somebody showed me a picture and I was like, ‘F**k, I was enormous’. I don’t particularly remember sitting at home crying and eating endless packets of HobNobs. I don’t remember doing that at all. Honestly, I think it was a stress thing or something. I don’t know.” Winslet recalls her relationship with Titanic co-star DiCaprio fondly, saying they spent the entire time filming “In each other’s pockets. It wasn’t a very big budget film, so we couldn’t afford to shoot in a studio, and we were in this house which was tiny, oppressive, claustrophobic, sweaty, boiling hot, with a whole crew of people. It was like a pressure cooker every single day. And so we were physically close together and able to have a constant dialogue about the scenes – running lines, sharing ideas. He knows my buttons, and I know his, and we know how to push them in very specific ways.” “After Titanic, it would have been completely foolish for me to go and try and top that. I’m an English girl, I’ve always loved England. I’ve never felt the desire to leave it for any particular reason. And whilst I’m ambitious and care very much about what I do, I’m not competitive. I also don’t want to act every day of my life. So it was important to me after
Titanic to just remind myself of why it was that I was acting in the first place, which is of course because I love it.” Not wanting to be typecast in period dramas, Winslet refused some high-profile roles, including those taken by Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love, and Jodie Foster in Anna & the King. Instead, she turned to smaller productions and independent films, which she found more interesting. Her next was Hideous Kinky, based on an autobiographical novel by Esther Freud, and funded by a lottery grant. It couldn’t have been a bigger shift for Winslet, playing a single mother in 1972 Morocco, seeking Sufi enlightenment with her two daughters. It was another out-
“I was reading the script in the back of the car and I turned to my dad and yelled ‘I’ve got to get this!’ standing performance, but sadly the film was a box office flop. It wasn’t all bad for Winslet, though, who met and fell for 3rd Assistant Director Jim Threapleton on the set. The two were married soon afterwards and had a daughter, Mia (born 12 October, 2000). They’d divorce in December, 2001, with Threapleton’s “unreasonable behaviour” cited as the reason. In 2007, Winslet reunited with DiCaprio to film Revolutionary Road. “Leo and I were always aware that if we were going to do something together again that there would be a sense of expectation,” she reflects.
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“It was going to have to be the right thing. We could see ourselves playing that married couple. The friendship that we have and the solidity of that was something we would be able to use. There’s an emotional shorthand that Leo and I have and a physical ease because we’ve known each other so long. Leo and I, you know, are sort of kindred spirits – we’re cut from the same cloth. Both of us just got lucky young, started working, and kind of learned on the job. We’re self-educated actors in a way, and we’ve just been lucky to work with unbelievable directors and actors who have taught us so much. It’s been spectacular.” On working with Winslet, DiCaprio has says “We both knew if we were to work together again we couldn’t tread on the kind of similar territory as Titanic. The characters in Revolutionary Road were a departure from what we did together before, and we knew we could push each other as actors to get some interesting performances out of each other.” He also speaks warmly of her approach of each role, stating “Her working script is riddled with notes, with different coloured bookmarks; every page has detailed reference points for her to infuse her role. She takes on her characters like a detective might survey a crime scene. Kate is the most talented actress of her generation.” Revolutionary Road was filmed by Winslet’s former husband Sam Mendes, whom she married in 2003. “We hadn’t been planning to do it, but we thought it was rather a good idea, so we just did it.” After a secret wedding in the West Indies in May 2003, she gave birth to son Joe Alfie, in December that same year. The couple split amicably after seven years of marriage – which was scrutinised by the media’s glare. But has the media always had an impact on Winslet, either mentally or physically? “No. If anything Hollywood has made me more defiant, and made me want to be more comfortable in my own skin. It’s made me less inclined to want to change myself. I think there are a lot of myths and a lot of pressure on women these days to look good. A lot of that does
come from Hollywood, and it does come from the media. I do feel very lucky to be in a position where I am working as an actress today and get to play very, very interesting roles. And to be recognised for those things is, you know, very rare. It’s a real blessing and I don’t take any of it lightly. But because I am in that position, I do feel that it’s important to stand up there and say ‘Guess what everybody, this isn’t real – we don’t all really look like this. We’ve been in hair and makeup for two hours’, or ‘Magazine covers do get retouched’. That’s the way it’s been for a very long time, and no one really talks about that. I really don’t think it should be a secret.” Being ONFORM, it wouldn’t be right of us to not mention style. So, does Winslet have any style icons? “I don’t particularly have any style icons. I just really admire women who dress appropriately, who don’t try and cover themselves up, and women who look the age that they are. I really admire Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Vanessa Redgrave, Judi Dench – you know, these wonderful, powerful women who are brilliant at what they do, and who are aging naturally and gracefully, and look absolutely incredible. Those are the types of women that I really admire. I would hope to be like that, giving out that type of message, when I’m older.” Winslet has just finished filming Labor Day, in which a depressed single mother, Adele (Winslet), and her son Henry offer a wounded, shady man a lift. As police search for the escaped convict, the mother and son begin to learn his true story, and their options for escape become increasingly limited. It’s roles like these that continue to cement Winslet as one of the most admired and lauded film stars in the world – though don’t say it to her face. “My skin still crawls if you call me a movie star. I get embarrassed. I think, don’t be ridiculous. Maybe it’s because I’m British. To me, Julia Roberts, that’s a movie star. When people do call me one, I think it’s an enormous compliment. But my God, is it a responsibility.”
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To Gatsby, or not to Gatsby Sartorial style with David Minns.
s surprising as this may sound, I have only just borne witness to the sensational film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. It would appear the film eluded me as a young man, as I recognised nothing of the romantic tail which unfolded before me. That is probably the reason why it escaped my attention – or rather, failed to draw my attention. But, upon being commissioned to assist a friend (who, interestingly enough is also called Jay) in designing his new suit, which was to incorporate a wider lapel, but not circa 1970s, I chanced upon The Great Gatsby. Gatsby’s style was, indeed, of-the-day, but he owed it to the tailors of Europe, who would send him new clothes at the beginning of each season (lucky man!). Three-piece suits; high-waisted trousers; flat-bottomed, doublebreasted waistcoats (with fob, naturally); single-breasted jackets, cut slightly longer, but not quite frock-coat length; Gatsby’s sartorial
elegance was second-to-none. But, in spite of all this – and not to mention the desire to cut myself a suit in the style of Gatsby himself – my sartorial hero was none
“He seems too elegant in his white linen three-piece suit” other than its narrator, Nick Carraway. From our first introduction to the unsung hero, Carraway’s style is beyond reproach. He carries himself well: he is a gentleman and scholar, a stark contrast to the arrogance and excesses of his peers. And though he may be a man of humble means, in comparison to his wealthy and extravagant neighbour, Carraway has a casual sartorial elegance that, in my mind, is the most convincing of all the characters. Even after fishing his sodden Panama hat from the drink (at the film’s start), he seems too elegant in his white linen three-piece suit.
And even though I thought that ‘summer cool’ would be hard to beat, he pulls yet another linen gem from his wardrobe, this time in a solid camel-colour, and worn with a vivid midblue shirt – knock-out! But Carraway not only does ‘casual cool’, he also dresses to impress, and proves this when dressing for his first Gatsby black-tie ball – his bond salesman suit is probably the only one he owns, but he clearly knows how to look after his garments and leaves his colleagues in the recycling bin with his striped shirt, patterned tie and gold fob. What a guy! With one Gatsby-inspired tailored suit under my belt, it will only be a matter of time before my sartorially-enlightened clientele here in the south-west are considering how their tailor might assist them in achieving such sartorial eccentricity (given that it’s the Noughties, not the roaring Twenties) and shipshape and Bristol fashion. If you have any sartorial travel dilemmas, or are concerned about a fashion faux pas, please turn to The Directory on page 83.
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03/12/2012 11:00 13/11/2012 16:09
Creative Director- Kai Waterton Photographer- Ty Mecham - tymecham.com Model - Alex Geerman - Soul Artist Management
New York Love W
e shot this on the Upper West Side of New York, with only one thing on our minds: trying to ‘airbend’ the cold morning winds,
the concept. The themes
the photographer had in mind were “morning lines, a love letter, a requiem to love, a story told in hushed innuendo.” The stylist chose mild colours, yet heavy fabrics, to reflect these ideas. The contrasts complement this, too, through the use of two opposite labels from opposite seasons. No matter the distance, the change of time, or the turmoil, when all seemed lost, our hope was still there.
This page: shirt from NINH Menswear. ONF ORM 39
40 Summer 2012
This page: jacket and trousers from NINH; sweater from Ralph Lauren. Opposite: jacket also from NINH.
This page: jacket and trousers from NINH; sweater from Ralph Lauren. Opposite: jacket also from NINH.
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as good T R AV E L : Z E R M A T T
The Heinz Julen Loft
it gets The view from the Gallery
Room with a view
The Loft at night
44 Autumn 2012
y name is Peter Robinson – and I’m an addict. I don’t know where to start. It creeps up on me. I could be placating my way through a board meeting, or having drinks with friends, and then I just lose all interest. The situation, whatever it is, completely ceases to amaze me. Life just loses its colour. I try to reassure myself, whilst hopelessly attempting to coax the addiction monkey off my shoulder and back into its bloody cage. I just can’t get enough powder. Before we go any further, and I get a call from my mother (probably to enquire into the quality, rather than express concern) I want to make it clear that I’m talking about snow. I know you are all thinking ‘skiing is so mainstream’, but the fact is, the ski-bum trades security for face-shots; the future for the moment. Considering how hollow the promise of a corporate career has become, who can say the ski-bum is not the wiser investor in his or her life. Maybe you manage to squeeze in one yearly trip to the slopes. Perhaps that’s enough. Well, I’m afraid that once isn’t sufficient for me to get my Trainspotting-sized fix. No, I need the whole Cohiba and a magnum of champagne to be truly complete. So, as I coast through the off-season, working out plans for the on-season, and desperately trying to asses an angle that keeps the satisfying crunch under my feet, I’m reassured when I realise that there are off-season options. Earlier in the year, when we had taken our last run into the village of Verbier, nursing sore shins and sipping piping gluvine, the topic turned to the next trip. We are never content; we always want to know that another trip is booked. And as we tend to take trips in packs, it usually takes a good few months of planning. I came to skiing late in life. For me, it was just something to tick off the bucket list, and I didn’t quite realise the hold it would take. The team that came on the first trip promised me that this inaugural
adventure would mark an end to all beach holidays. It’s not the destination; it’s the adventure along the way. It seems cliché, but that’s really how it is. My first run was like a new state of being, a happy trance, time in motion and elation, reckless in vitality. Skiing is a physical necessity. I have a need for risk. Skiing is complete outdoor fun and knocking down trees with your face. I developed my taste for tackling perilous pistes in Zermatt, just over a year ago. If you’ve never been to Zermatt, here are some bullet points for you: its runs are the highest in Europe, aside from Montblanc itself; the lifts are open from around 8am until 6pm in April; and it has the longest winter season in the Alps, from November to May. So, having taken the rat-pack out last year, I asked my local alpine sherpa, Karin Kunz, hotel direktorin of the Zermatt icon, the Mont Cervin Palace, if she knew of any chalets in the region that might fit the bill. Had the Mont Cervin not been undergoing a refurbishment, there is no doubt that our first stop in town would have been the grill for a welcome lunch. Alas, it was not to be. Karin asked me if I had ever heard of an artist called Heinz Julen. Having not, I asked for a bio. It would appear that young Heinz’s father was a mountain guide and restaurant owner. Heinz has designed internationally-renowned furniture, exhibited art work at some of the world’s most sought-after galleries, and also created one of Zermatt’s most stunning chalets, high atop the town. The Heinz Julen Loft is managed by Mountain Exposure, a boutique holiday company with offices in Zermatt, boasting seventeen of the top luxury properties in both the town and Saas Fee. When I put my trip in the hands of a virtual manager, I take a few key things into consideration beforehand: do they have a local footing? How experienced are they? And do I like them as people? It seems, these days, a drift of new ski holiday brokers open every season, acting as little more than middlemen. Mountain Exposure is run by two kings among men, who run an experienced management team comprising Lausanne
Dining area come Dance Floor
Stunning views over the village below
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Hotel School and Oxford and Cambridge alumni, not to mention a team of more than twenty. They have assembled some of Zermatt’s most experienced Michelin-starred chefs, ski guides, chalet hosts and hostesses, to create bespoke holidays that require the lifting of only an occasional finger. Usually, it’s lifted to swipe a key card to gain access to a private lift that takes you high above the village, where the Heinz Julen Loft is perched, overlooking the snow-coated rooftops far below. The Heinz Julen Loft is one of the finest designer chalets in the region. Sprawling some 300 square-metres, this Manhattan-style loft is incomparable. It combines acres of glass, steel, textured concrete and wood in a unique symphony of fusion architecture. The Loft was formerly Julen’s private home, where he hosted many legendary parties. When you enter the loft from the private elevator, you’re faced with an overwhelming sense of light and space, not to mention a suspended, illuminated table, which can be raised and lowered as required, or lifted completely out of the way to ceiling height. “Can it take a person’s weight?” I hear you ask. (Coughs loudly) I’m advised to maintain plausible deniability here. There is a baby grand Steinway piano in one corner, but sadly our usual maestro, Jason Shankey, couldn’t join us, so there was no late-night renditions of Tiny Dancer (though knowing the Loft’s previous guests, something by a certain Robbie Williams would probably be more fitting). Other furniture, all designed by Julen himself, included two beautiful desks, jack-in-the-box armchairs, and a rather handsome chandelier, which at closer inspection included old spoons – life imitating art, anyone for fruit tart. Staying at the Loft is very much like sleeping in an eclectic art exhibition, whilst testing ones limits to consume the finest Swiss wines – yes, that’s right, and they happen to be fantastic. A metal staircase leads up to the mezzanine level, which has a chillout area, kitchen and breakfast nook. Oh yes, next to the free-standing Jacuzzi bath. That’s right, no cold runs from the outside tub to the chalet. The third master bedroom is very private, with its own landing and features an island bed on a rotating floor, sofa and TV, a walk-in wardrobe, a free-standing bath with wood-slatted massage cover, his and her sinks, separate shower and a tactical nuclear missile. See, sometimes if I stop, suddenly you just fly right past! You would have thought that my star of the show would be the Vegas-style revolving baby-maker, but I’m afraid not. The stone bath was definitely the highlight: after a long day pounding the powder, you just can’t beat a long soak. The next morning, feeling amped to get on the slopes, we headed over to Bayard Sport, opposite the train station. Let’s not kid ourselves: skiing fashion is a serious business. The sheer amount of equipment required to accurately carve your way from mountain piste to village pub would stop a herd of bison in its tracks. If you’re going to pick up some new shades, goggles, socks, or are perhaps thinking, very sensibly, of hiring, rather than paying the haulage fee to fly with your own, look no further than the team at Bayard. Although I should mention, SWISS lets your skis travel free. Bayard’s shopping experience covers two floors and is like Alton Towers: every time you turn another corner, there appears to be an additional football field of toys. If you’re thinking about what you might need to ensure you’re kitted up with this season’s bragging toys, I suggest you read the Objets du Desir in this issue of the magazine. Skis, boots, poles – all brand new. I wondered if we were early in the season, because we were using new equipment. Apparently not; the gear is just kept to an uber-high standard. It was also well priced. Remember skiing is free. It’s the lifts that cost money. When we finally got to the lift, it was nearing 10am – skiing sacrilege, I know. But with a team to get kitted, it was going to take time. I sat there, grinding my teeth and staring at them. “YES, IT FITS YOU, YOU DONT NEED A SMALLER SIZE”. My temper tends to fray when I’m asked to wait patiently, instead of ‘going big’. Last year, in Flims,
I made some pretty key steps in going big (taking jumps). It is not as easy as it sounds. The takeoff is simple; it’s the inevitable landing that’s the problem. And if you’re not on powder, well, just maintain a decent insurance policy. According to the Hindu religion, the world is just a dream. As soon as Shiva wakes up we all vanish. If that is true, it’s all the more reason to go big. Once the team were expertly geared up, we headed through town to the lift in a lovely little electric taxi. Zermatt is car free – delightful, right? Despite my urbanite tendencies to drive, well, just about anywhere, it has to be said that we were about to go glacial skiing. CO2 levels are destroying the glacier and so I must buck up my ideas. The lift ride to the Trockener Steg took about fifteen minutes, and if you ski often, you will know that the anticipation just amps faster and faster. The first runs were awesome, if not a little icey. As the sun came through the clouds, it was summer skiing weather. Higher up the pistes, near the Klein Matterhorn, conditions were much better. This was probably due to a sprinkling of powder the night before. I was honestly quite taken aback when I realised that conditions up there were so good: “Walk? No we shall ski to Mordor.” Luckily, the conditions were perfect and, as it was off-season, there were a lot less kids and families on-piste. I’m always fond of skiing past shocked-looking families, stuck in places they shouldn’t belong, shouting “It’s not going to get any greener.” Speaking of les enfants and the semi-experienced, we had Dr. Farrow and Taya Pang with us on this occasion, and so were joined by
“There’s no waiting for friends on a powder day” James Puckett from the Summit Ski School. I have always wondered how instructors feel about taking lessons with more than one person, but Summit offers group lessons geared for up to six people. They are also based, conveniently, next to Bayard. Unlike other schools, they don’t charge more if you choose to add a few more people to the lesson. I gave them a little advice: if you get scared, go faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death. Also, some basics when it comes to stopping. Traverse: one of two ways to stop while skiing; the other method: a tree. After what seemed like a minute, Taya came flying past me at lightspeed. I shouted “Where’s the doctor?” She replied “There’s no waiting for friends on a powder day.” I waited for Paul, all the same. Eventually, he made it down, looking totally immersed and very pleased with himself. “The way to ski these things, Pete, is to go to total panic, then back off.” I couldn’t agree more. Taya had skied before, though, albeit some eight years ago. This was Paul’s second time skiing. My patience level isn’t great; patience is passion tamed. James, however, was as calm as a Hindu cow. Paul really seemed to improve and was genuinely getting better and better under James’ tutelage. This was good, because my suggestions were being met by visceral responses. We finished up the hard day’s carve with a cold beer in The Bubble, and caught up with Andres and Glenn, the little Après bar owners. Zermatt is one of skiing’s most beautiful resorts. The restaurants garner more Gault Millau points every year; the bars are first class; the accommodation from Mountain Exposure is breathtaking; and the guiding and lessons from the team at Summitt are tip-top. If you’ve never skied Zermatt’s peaks and pistes, what are you waiting for? You can always get a job, but you can’t make it snow. For further information, please refer to The Directory on page 83
46 Autumn 2012
Donald Scott - Mountain Exposure and Peter Robinsoin from GMM
James from the Summit Ski School
A perfect fit at Bayard
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Risky Business Cash deposits currently provide poor value for money and with inflation hovering at 3%, many people are quite rightly assessing their actual need for instant access cash, and allocating more capital to purchase ‘real assets’ that have a fighting chance of keeping up. Investing in the current environment, though, presents a number of challenges. The choice of retail investment options is mind-blowing, with new ways and routes to invest seemingly springing up every day. Ed Holder explains more.
nline stock brokerage services provide an easy way to purchase everything from shares in FTSE100 companies to derivatives and CFDs to buying an index through ETFs. The thrill of watching the daily price swings is attractive to some, and a small portfolio of handpicked shares can, in the right circumstances, produce stellar returns. Stock broker charges and their often limited research capabilities also increase the risk of lower total returns. Other investors prefer the relative safety of open-ended collective investment funds, such as unit trusts and open-ended investment companies (OEICs) that also provide access to real assets, but have large professional fund management teams making the daily buy-sell decisions. From low-cost passive funds to more expensive, high-octane UCITSIII absolute return funds, there are literally thousands of retail collectives to choose from, most with daily liquidity. Another big consideration is whether to appoint an adviser, and if so, whether the adviser should have discretionary powers or maintain a consulting advisory relationship and include the investor in changes to investment strategy or assets. A good adviser comes with years of experience and specialist knowledge, while taking liability
for the advice. However, advice comes at an additional cost, so regular assessment of the value added should be undertaken to see if a change or removal of this ‘outsourced specialist’ is warranted. Before appointing an adviser, it is essential to check technical qualifications and FSA permissions. Even today, many so-called investment advisers or wealth managers are trading off the back of tick-box qualifications from decades ago. Entrusting your cash with a safe pair of hands might sound obvious, but many people fail to properly investigate the qualifications of a potential adviser. Finding a chartered financial planner is a good starting point in this respect. Regardless of your chosen route to investing, understanding and taking into account the risk of your chosen assets is essential.
Systematic and non-systematic risk Unsystematic risk can be thought of as the risk generated by factors specific to the stock or share, such as a poor management team, changes to regulation or other event-driven risks. By investing in a number of different companies, this ‘specific risk’ can be significantly diversified away. Increasing the number of holdings reduces risk only so far. Studies have shown that there is little to no additional benefit in holding more than 35 companies
48 Autumn 2012
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in different sectors. Systematic risk, often called market risk, is deemed undiversifiable, as it pertains to the financial system as a whole. Sentiment will drive markets up or down, as measured by changes to an index. The change in price to an individual equity on any given day will, in part, be a reflection of these market fluctuations. Professional investors measure market risk using beta (β) – a share with a beta of 1.0 is expected to move exactly in line with the market.
Risk Adjusted Performance Measures Considering outright performance in isolation is a common but dangerous behaviour. Provide most novice investors with a list of investments with the attaching performance figures for each, and ask them to select their top-ten picks. Most would select the investments that have performed the best over the previous one, three or five years, without taking care to analyse and assess the varying aspects of risk taken to achieve those returns. Risk adjusted measures factor in both the performance and the relative risk of an investment to give a more useful value with which to make buying decisions. The share of a company that marginally outperformed over the past three years, but whose management team took huge gambles to deliver profits, is unlikely to be able to continue to outperform. Conversely, an investment that has marginally lower risk characteristics than its sector average but delivers consistently high returns indicates a sustainable process, and is perhaps a safer bet. Sharpe Ratio shows the excess return per unit of risk associated with the excess return. The benchmark used is the ‘risk free’ rate of return. The higher the ratio, the better the risk adjusted performance – a useful ratio for investors comparing the relative returns of an asset over cash. Another useful ratio when looking at investment funds is the Information Ratio (IR) which factors in the outperformance of a portfolio and the tracking error (how ‘off-piste’ the manager skied from the benchmark). A high IR indicates the manager used the information about markets to identify prices anomalies better than his peers.
Quantifying and understanding ‘total risk’ A measure commonly used to quantify the volatility of returns an investment is the standard deviation (SD) of its returns around its ‘mean’ or expected return. SD gives us a feel for the ‘total risk’ of an investment (systematic risk plus non-systematic risk equals total risk). If an investment behaves ‘as expected’ producing returns, year on year, close to the average return of the investment, then we consider this low risk. Conversely, if the returns fluctuate widely around the average return the investment can be considered as higher risk. If a given investment has a high expected return, then it usually carries a higher than average degree of risk, rendering it inappropriate for people wanting to take a cautious stance. By the same token, if two potential investments have the same expected return, but one is half as volatile, then this lower risk investment is perhaps more attractive. If your time horizon is short for a given investment and the standard deviation value is high, then the risk of having to crystallise a loss at the point of encashment is elevated.
Reducing Investment Risk There are broadly three ways to reduce the total risk of a portfolio: hedging out the risk; simply buy only low risk assets; diversify the portfolio holdings (different assets, sectors, geographies etc.) Hedging usually involves using financial instruments such as derivatives to take opposing positions on actual assets within the portfolio that increase in value if the values fall. For example, a degree of hedged protection can be achieved for a portfolio of FTSE100 equities by buying a FTSE100 ‘put option’. However purchasing and dealing in derivatives is a complex and potentially expensive business and is perhaps not suitable for a non-professional or retail investor without professional advice. Purchasing low risk assets inherently means expecting low returns, so unsurprisingly, this route is not always attractive to the investor. Diversification allows the investor to hold a portfolio of risk assets with desirable expected return characteristics while reducing
“Another big consideration is whether to appoint an adviser, and if so, whether the adviser should have discretionary powers or maintain a consulting advisory relationship and include the investor in changes to investment strategy or assets.” the overall risk to less than the average risk of the individual investments/securities. Diversification works best if the investor can identify stocks or shares that negatively correlate, i.e. they move in opposite directions under the same market conditions. Therefore only non-systematic risk can be effectively removed through diversification of assets. Finding two assets that negatively correlate in the ever converging global economy is no mean feat. In conclusion, a good advisory firm can assist in assessing the risk of a current portfolio and advise on restructuring, or simply provide expert knowledge on how best to invest new capital for the best risk-adjusted returns. Technically minded advisory firms can also carefully introduce alternative strategies and assets such as venture capital, derivatives, hedge funds and commodities. Risk is only one factor that needs to be carefully considered when swapping your hard-earned cash for real assets. Investors of course need to equally consider inflation, taxation, charges, timing, holding structure, access requirements, inheritance, reliefs and allowances to name but a few other important influencing factors. Understanding the known risk characteristics and the expected returns of potential investments, investors can assess if a given security is suitable for their needs and is likely to perform as required. Knowing the likely maximum potential for loss over a given timeframe before you buy an asset should help avoid nasty surprises. Equally, knowing the likely possible upside of an investment gives valuable insight as to whether an investment objective is possible to be hit. Considering risk adjusted return measures further narrows down the selection process by weeding out securities that carry unnecessary amounts of risk relative to others available. Ed Holder is a chartered financial planner at Holder & Combes, a Citybased firm of independent financial advisers, specialising in investment planning, risk management and tax efficiency. For further information, please refer to The Directory on page 83 ONF ORM 49
Risky Business.indd 49
For the majority of people involved in the large yacht business who have neither intention nor desire to pass anywhere east of Suez, the main security issues are rather more commonplace. Theft or trespass can be planned or opportunist. We are aware of a boarder gaining access to a yacht during a fire drill when all the door alarms were off. The first the crew were aware of his presence was his arrival in the wheelhouse wearing the owner’s dressing gown. Timing was a fantastic coincidence. He had no malicious intent. Like the Blues Brothers, he was on a mission from God and was gently escorted away by Florida’s finest. How do we stop that? Risk assessment should be a routine part of security management. It doesn’t need to be complex. Are security threats, like piracy, being taken seriously by yachters? And if not, why should people take heed? In broad terms, people are listening, but there is always a minority who believe that their right to freedom of the seas will be honoured by pirates, or that cruising the world distributing religious documents provides some kind of immunity. It doesn’t. It doesn’t help that the boarding parties are often illiterate and will speak almost no English anyway. If the voyage really is necessary and there is not a large dry transport ship available, then transiting the high risk area should be subject to risk assessment. In any event, compliance with BMP4 and observing reporting requirements should be an absolute minimum, and will be a condition of insurance cover anyway. We appreciate that complete adherence may not be practical and this should be raised in the course of an effective risk assessment and raised with the insurance broker. It is also important that the boat reports in to the appropriate organisation such as MSC(HoA). Yachts have been taken and the stories are not pleasant. How do the services Watkins offer differentiate from other service providers? Through our origins as a daughter company of a leading Lloyd’s marine underwriter, and the experiences and continued relationships of some of our staff with commercial shipowners, underwriters, insurance brokers and a large number of security providers, Watkins’ insight and experience are unique. Indeed, one of our staff was involved in the post-hijack recovery of a disabled ship from the pirates’ holding anchorage. The ransom had been paid and the pirates had left but the ship was without power. Our guy met people he didn’t want to meet in places he didn’t want to go to, but after several weeks and many nights’ lost sleep, the crew was reunited with their families and a ship returned to her owner. During this operation, trustworthy armed protection teams to escort
supply vessels and of course to then put guards on board were needed in a hurry, and at one time 30 armed men at sea from four companies on board three vessels were involved. The companies used delivered splendidly. Those that responded immediately with ‘we can’t cover this operation’ also earned our praise and remain on our trusted service providers list. At times such as this, fast honest answers are a necessity. Some companies failed to perform with spectacular results and underlined the fundamental need for these to be some kind of reliable vetting system for private marine security companies. Such a system does not exist, and is unlikely to do so for some time, so we have produced our own points-based system. It was no surprise that Special Projects and Services Ltd (SPS) and Unity SPS both exceeded our vetting threshold by a wide margin and was the deciding factor in us engaging with them. Where yacht owners do not have their own dedicated security providers, we would appoint SPS, and with our non-yacht commercial shipping interests, recommend Unity SPS. We understand piracy and we also understand that the object of a yacht is to create pleasure for the owner. We do both. Outside of the hardening risk areas, security should be invisible to the owner. Nobody wishes to enjoy their precious down-time surrounded by armed guards. Is there anything else in the Watkins catalogue that yacht owners should know about? Security alone does not define us at Watkins, but is an important aspect of our duties as a responsible manager, and our clients expect to have a wide knowledge of this subject and robust policies and procedures in place for the protection of our clients, guests, crews and yachts. I was reluctant to talk at such length on security alone, but there is an important message here. The number of hijacks has fallen recently and some commercial operators are already considered lowering their guard. That is ill-advised. They are still there and they are hungry. Our favourite line ‘A passion for your craft’ applies to all areas of our services, whether it’s simple safety, payroll or purchasing full-blown management, build projects, charter or sale and purchase brokerage. As the majority of our directors are registered with the UK FSA, our management and brokerage clients have objective evidence that we will handle their financial affairs with transparency, confidentiality and integrity. And of course, not forgetting that yacht ownership is an emotional choice. It’s meant to be fun. And that’s a responsibility we take seriously too. For further information, please refer to The Directory on page 83
ONF ORM 53
Pirate Bay.indd 53
We visit a splendid four-bedroom flat on Davies Street, Mayfair, between Grosvenor Square and Bond Street, to see how an award-winning interior design company has transformed it into the highest calibre of living space.
here are times when one looks around their house or apartment and finds nothing but dissatisfaction. A home must inspire, as it does when you first move in. After a year, perhaps two, homes tends to languish under a general malaise. Properties, like people, must stay with the times, and reflect their ever-changing environments. Above all, properties must remain tidy, well-decorated, fashionable, valuable, and au courante. This stunning apartment is set across 260 square-metre of the third floor of a Georgian pottered building, appropriately called ‘The Manor’. Casa Forma has designed the architecture through an extensive amount of stripping, gutting and demolition work to create unique, lateral space with uninterrupted views. The entrance floor leading to the corridor consists of a natural rare off-white stone, with trims and details in bronze. The same concept runs throughout the property. Melted bronze and silver sheets of metal cladding work concertedly with the ebonised macassar panelling. Other walls are finished in polished plaster and upholstered with calf skin. The approach to the bedrooms has also been kept subtle; the tones of colour create a textured wall behind the beds. Traces of walnut and (again) ebonised macassar have been used to design the joinery.
54 Autumn 2012
Radiator cases are shrewdly concealed behind the panelling in all rooms. The floors feel sophisticated, employing an outstanding selection of natural materials, which appear to be a mixture of stained walnut, ebonised and ebony macassar timbers. Moon Onyx cladding to the entrance foyer walls, with back lighting, evokes a subtle glow. Bronze trims, frame the onyx, as if it were an artwork. The en suite bathrooms use the same tones of colour, with rare natural stone and antique gold ware. Free standing baths, wall-to-wall mirroring, and his and her basins, make this bathroom a retreat rather than a utility. Before we visited the property, Leo Bertacchini, Senior Interior Designer at Casa Forma, couldn’t have been more enthused. His gusto was justified. It is useless romanticising city-centre property, because most of the time, it never lives up to expectation. If location is one thing, then interior is everything else. Too many places favour function over form, overthrowing aesthetics for things like proximity. It’s a weird, British, utilitarian trait of settling for mediocrity – then paying a fortune to eventually solve the problem. This Davies Street property, however, shows how function, form and location can be balanced. It sets the bar for contemporary living and aesthetics. And it also proves why Casa Forma is one the leading interior design companies in Britain today.
Boom! 24/11/2012 16:15
ONF ORM 55
R e s ta u r a n t s : T H E R I B R O O M
The Rib Room London, SW1X
Institutional restaurants are institutional for a reason. But does the Rib Room still cut the mustard? Laith Al-Kaisy finds out.
here’s a school of thought that says not everyone can review food. That’s crap. If you put something in your mouth, I expect you to tell me what it tastes like. What people may have trouble doing, however, is summing up the entire restaurant experience in one neat, edible package, and that’s because restaurants aren’t just about the food, but the choice, the service, the decor, the clientele, the pricing, and the chance of getting the waitress’s number. There’s a hell of a lot of restaurants out there. On the surface that sounds like a good thing – a nice democratisation of choice – but it also means a lot of stinkers. Restaurants have become a part of the cultural one-infive theory. For every four hammy Hamlets, there’s a showstopper. For every four Coldplay albums, there’s one that doesn’t make me pray for a nuclear holocaust. Visiting two great restaurants in succession is rare, which is a shame, because the verve and skill is out there, but lost in a coven of middleclass mums who open cutesy, overpriced, organic bistro-things, with a silly names like ‘Quiche’ or ‘Merde!’ or ‘There’s A Fly In My Consommé’. Whilst overseas recently, I had a lovely chat with a PR girl called Louise, who asked what my favourite place to eat out in London was. Without much hesitation, I answered Le Caprice; and without much hesitation, she agreed. You may think that’s a funny coincidence, but it’s not, considering that institutional restaurants are institutional for a reason. The Rib Room would certainly like to think that it’s one of these places. Upon opening in 1961, the restaurant was supposedly the best place in London for a bit of beef. The room reeks of a warped Englishness, a reptilian complex, as if imagined by William Burroughs; an odd mix of grandeur and soullessness, the type of place where City boys come to have existential breakdowns, before realising that, indeed, there is nothing left to live for. The menu is divided into classic, seasonal and rib. We ordered from the seasonal, which stands at two courses for £48 or three courses for £55. Not badly priced for Knightsbridge. I started with scallops, which were like leftovers from the deck of a trawler. I am perfectly aware that the scallops were diver-caught, hugged just often enough as children, and had the best education money can buy; I don’t need a waiter to tell me this. The fault isn’t with the mollusc, but rather its unloving preparation. Either way, I find it hard to describe something that tasted of nothing. Matthew, my friend and former flatmate, had the foie gras with cider jelly and pear, which he seemed to enjoy, but
then I’ve seen him eat out-of-date meat with a smile. Crusted rack of lamb was joyless and overdone, and would have been better served by a priest at a funeral pyre. How someone can fumble sheep like that is beyond me. Duck with crispy drumstick was gorgeously presented and tasted like any memorable dish should do: as good as it looked. The skin was taut and brittle, the flesh pink and yielding, with just enough rendered fat to grease the palate. This may sound bad, but I can’t remember what I had for dessert. I checked the online menu, to no avail. What I can tell you, however, is that it was properly good. And yes, I do realise that the last three sentences are probably the worst piece of food journalism in history. Ultimately, the Rib Room suffers from complacency. Someone needs to tell the management we’re in 2012, not 1961. Everyone floats about the place acting like it’s still the best restaurant in town. Well, don’t shoot the messenger, but the Rib Room needs a rethink. It’s not my place to say how – I’m a hack, not a restaurateur, and I can barely do my own job properly. But the Rib Room needs a bit of soul, some joy, a modicum of personality, and the chefs need to assess the way they prepare and serve some of the dishes. I suppose tasting them would be a good start. It’s not that the Rib Room is terrible, just a terrible let down, and when you’re vying for custom in a city saturated with restaurants, you need to live up to reputation – or change your name to ‘Merde!’ so customers realise what they’re getting. For further information, please refer to The Directory on page 83.
56 Autumn 2012
The Rib Room.indd 56
D R I N K : J A PA N E S E W H I S K Y
Ring-a-Ding-Ding! Many years ago I enjoyed a bottle of Suntory Whisky Royal. All of it. Brett Hirt talks Torii and Taketsuru
“The nation that gave us the Tamagotchi has also produced the world’s best whisky”
When sipping a dram of a whisky that has just won the title of ‘World’s Best Single Malt Whisky’ at the 2012 World Whisky Awards, you may be forgiven for closing your eyes and picturing the mountains and rough seas of Scotland, as the 25-year-old whisky dances over your taste-buds. The image may be relatively accurate, but the location would be nearly 8,000 miles to the east, in Japan. It may be hard to believe, but the nation that gave us the bukkake warrior, the Tamagotchi, Isoroku Yamamoto, shochu, and the daikon radish has also produced the world’s best whisky. The history of whisky production is Japan is reasonably short, and can be attributed to two great men: Shinjiro Torii and Masataka Taketsuru. Torii was a pharmaceutical merchant who embarked on a mission to create Japan’s first whisky distillery, which was to become his life’s work. He hired Taketsuru in the early 1920s. Taketsuru had studied organic chemistry in Glasgow, and learned the secrets of scotch production whilst working in a number of distilleries. Taketsuru was instrumental
in helping Torii set up the Yamazaki distillery for his company, which would later become Suntory. He left the Yamazaki distillery to set up his own company, which would become Nikka, establishing the Yoichi distillery. As you would expect, the style of Japanese whisky follows that of the Scottish, as does the spelling. And the naming of the whiskies follows the distilleries.
benefits from a rough and humid climate, with local peat bogs and a sea breeze that leaves an imprint on the whisky. The pot stills are heated by coal, a process that has been abandoned by the Scots, due to the difficulty in controlling the temperature. Whiskies from Yoichi are typically bold with a rich spicy character. The one to try: Taketsuru 17 years old
Yamazaki Distillery – Suntory The Yamazaki distillery is located at the base of Mount Tennozan, at the convergence of three rivers. The moist, humid climate causes frequent fogs and is well suited to the aging of whiskey. The distillery also uses mineral water from a natural spring designated as one of the best in the country by Japan’s Ministry of Environment. Traditional pot stills, heated by fire and steam, are used in the distillation. The one to try: Yamazaki 25 Years Old
Hanyu Distillery & Chichibu Distillery Ichiro Established in 1980, but now closed, the Hanyu distillery was at the forefront of single malt production in Japan; unfortunately, at the time, consumer demand was for blended whisky. The grandson of the founder, Ichiro, purchased the mature distillates and distilling facilities and opened the Chichibu distillery. The one to try: Ichiro’s Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve
Yoichi Distillery – Nikka Established in 1934, the Yoichi distillery
For further information, please refer to The Directory on page 83 ONF ORM 57
Jap Whiskey.indd 57
R e s ta u r a n t s : N o v i k o v
Novikov London, W1J
Elly Burke tries out the capital’s most extravagant eatery.
Nestled within the old-fashioned glamour of Mayfair, Novikov sits, cushioned by London’s largest concentration of luxury hotels and exclusive hangouts. With the explosion of Pan-Asian cuisine onto the culinary market, and the increase in demand for more choice eateries for discerning debutantes and their swells, Novikov emerges as the new place to go for all sushi socialites and edamame girls. Entering the grand establishment that is Novikov is as if stepping out from a cardboard box into a velvet purse. The staff have a kind of efficiency and manner that wouldn’t be out of place on Concorde; I’m not sure if I’m intimidated or welcomed as we gradually move to the front of the queue waiting for tables. It’s busy and we’re early, but no matter. I fancy myself a bit of a Marco Polo, so explore we shall. It’s a classy affair, make no mistake about that. Glamazonian women adorn tables with gargantuan handbags, serious looking City chaps confidently poise chopsticks mid-meeting. The wine is flowing in abundance, the atmosphere is ambient. The place is positively pulsing with prosperity, Prada and promise. I’m on the prosecco. We’re dining at the Asian wing of Novikov this evening – though, in fact, Novikov sprawls itself over two restaurants – one Asian, one Italian – and we’re quick to find the downstairs bar with its encyclopaedia of cocktails, cosy corners, handsome furniture, low lighting and vibrating floor boards. In the spirit of things (quite literally), we got settled into cocktails: for me, a Shogun (naturally), whilst my companion went for a Marisha, which apparently strengthens your immune system. I was especially pleased to find a cocktail containing Hibiki seventeen-year-old whiskey. In fact, I was rather pleased with the whole thing: served short, finished fast. Good stuff. Fifteen minutes or so had past and it was time for our table. We were swiftly seated. Crudités were presented and replenished, while we mused over the menu. A selection of Asian food was offered. I consider dim sum, sushi, et cetera. The seafood here is plentiful, which is easy pickings for this seafood enthusiast, but across the table, my date seems somewhat
perturbed, as it turns out he is averse to all things aquatic. Fortunately, after the initial knockback, he is eventually enticed by some things less exotic and more familiar. I’m intrigued to see what comes out, the reputation of this place is sterling, and my pal, Pete, tells me that reservations here are like gold dust; perhaps a ploy to persuade me to saunter across from my regular haunts in Soho, but I’ll admit once again, I’m intrigued. I’ve been to Tokyo and explored authentic Japanese cuisine with my brother and Japanese in-laws, so proffer to know my asari from my ebi. The head chef does, too, it would seem. Resident chef Jeff Tyler is well-trained in Pan Asian cuisine, having cut his teeth at the Mandarin Oriental, and in Japan, where he worked as the only westerner in a solely Japanese environment, honing his sashimi, tempura, sushi and whole tuna cutting skills. I’ve read the blurb. Talking of the chef, I’m sure it’s not the norm, but the man himself popped up at our table to see how we were getting on and suggested some dishes. Naturally, we obliged. He’s clearly passionate about his food and keen to impress, so we gave him carte blanche. I selected various choice cuts of sashimi and other seafood samples, while my dapper dinner date does dude-food – mostly meat. The dishes began to arrive: octopus sashimi served elegantly over ice. It’s good. Meanwhile, my date is getting involved with Chinese dumpling: pork siu mai with truffle, which he doesn’t seem keen on. It’s all gone very quiet. More food arrives, this time unagi sashimi (Japanese eel), duck and mango rolls, then Scottish diver scallops with yuzu mayo. The banquet ensues with each dish beautifully presented, and a real delight of complex and bold decisions. Meanwhile, at the next table, Donald Trump and Natalia Vodianova (okay, it’s not them, but the resemblance was uncanny) had just acquired a magnificent theatre of a dessert. We wanted one. It’s unanimous. We were delivered our very own dessert platter; the diva of all desserts. A giant plate arrived, streaming with dry ice and splayed with sweet offerings: kiwi, passion fruit and mango brulee, Japanese macho and strawberry cheesecake. All divine. Think prat in club with champagne fireworks, and then think again: glamour with dessert, darling! It’s no wonder that many of the customers drop in for lunch daily. Rihanna dropped her favourite of chips and curry sauce and ate here twice the other week, and Harry has popped in for his fix. This restaurant aims to please – and please it does. I am hoping for an invite to the Italian bit: fussy fashionistas on wheat-free diets, carb-free cuisine for those imminently visiting Marbella (no carbs before Marbs, apparently) are all catered for, making this is a perfect place to take a contentious date; not only is the food appropriate, but the staff really understand how to be attentive without being invasive. Likewise, the opulent surroundings and standards positively encourage impressive client meetings. All of that aside, the food is really rather good. This isn’t a sushi restaurant; this is an Asian exploration that isn’t limited. If you can get a table, get one. It’ll cost you a pretty bob, but you’ll be well looked after. Politics and Putin aside, it’s an extravagance.
58 Autumn 2012
DRINK: GERARD BASSET
Cellar Dweller Gerard Basset is, without question, one of the greatest wine professionals of his generation. He is the first and only individual to hold the Master of Wine qualification, alongside the Master Sommelier and MBA Wine Business accolades – an achievement that is unlikely to be repeated for years to come. His crowning glory came in April 2010, when he won the World Sommelier Championship, cementing his extraordinary domination of the industry.
ow did you get started in wine? By luck really. I was a waiter in a restaurant in the South of England. A new restaurant manager came to work there and, because I was French, he put me on wine service, even though I knew very little about wine at the time. I very much enjoyed serving wine and knew it was where I wanted to focus my career, so began learning more about it. You won ‘Best Sommelier in the World’ in 2010. What did this mean to you, and what has it led to? It meant a lot to me. The Best Sommelier in the World takes place every three years and I entered six times in total, finishing in second place three times [1992 in Rio de Janeiro, 2004 in Athens, and 2007 in Rhodes]. All the years of planning and preparation felt rewarded. It has led to me being approached more regularly to attend and speak at wine events in Asia and other international markets. In addition, a year later, I was privileged to be awarded an OBE in Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List. I have dual nationality, born and raised in France. It was a phenomenal moment for me and my family. What makes a good sommelier? Loving people – having the desire to ensure your customers have a great experience.A great Sommelier must understand that each customer is different and requires a bespoke approach. Some are adventurous, some are traditional; some may be uncomfortable with wines, whereas others will know a lot about it. Therefore, the sommelier needs to understand a customer and suggest the wines that suit their preferences and budget. Of course, he or she needs to know a lot about wine, and be a good taster, not just of wine but of food too. A sommelier must also have the ability to buy and sell well, and control his or her wine stock. They must also inspire their teams and be a great ambassador for wine producers. Does culture or nationality ever have an impact on a sommelier? The sommelier must respect local traditions, but without being prisoner of them.
For you, how important is wine to food? Very important, like Tom to Jerry! Of course, wine can be had by itself, but wine is a symbol of conviviality. Conviviality around the table, sharing food – wine is difficult to beat! Also, simple food made from great ingredients is the perfect way to experience fine wines. What has changed in the world of wine since you started out? Many more regions around the world produce great wines, and it is now much easier for consumers to purchase a wider variety of wines from new and emerging markets. Overall, wine quality has improved – even in the classic regions. Supposing wine is your favourite drink – what is your second favourite? After wine, I like so many beverages: a great coffee, a fine sake, a superb beer. I don’t mind, but it needs to be of excellent quality. Do you have a favourite wine? I have many favourite wines, so this question is virtually impossible to answer! Of course, I love great Burgundy wines – Romanée-Conti is just unique – but I also love old Madeira vintages, a superb Cabernet from the Napa Valley. But really it depends on the mood. I love the wines from so many regions of the world. And a favourite restaurant? Very difficult. The best food I have had was at The French Laundry in Napa Valley, and the best service was at The Waterside Inn in Bray. I really like Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir too. And for a simple, relaxing and delicious meal, I would say The Riverside Restaurant in West Bay Bridport. They serve great fish and are very friendly. What is next for you? I have some exciting projects ahead, including working with La Verrerie de La Marne glassware designers, in support of its Oenomust wine glass.
ONF ORM 59
Cuisine: Andoni Luis aduriz
“I fell into cooking. It was my mother’s decision” Mugaritz takes every preconception you ever had about food and turns it on its head. The team of chefs, led by Andoni Luis Aduriz, tell stories with their dished, aiming to provoke an emotional response. Earlier this year, Mugaritz, which is based in Gipuzkoa, Spain, was named the world’s third best restaurant. We sat down with Andoni Luis Aduriz to discuss Spanish food and what it takes to produce such creative dishes.
What is the philosophy behind Mugaritz? Mugaritz is a restaurant run and led by food enthusiasts. It has been developed for other enthusiasts, who open to new experiences and want a unique experience. What are the key factors to running a successful restaurant? What I look for in great restaurants is sincerity, authenticity and excellence. What is the dish you are most proud of and why? We produce about one hundred new dishes each year. They are all important for me and special; they each hide a story. It is very difficult for me to choose just one. How important is wine in your restaurant, and do you have a favourite? Obviously we pay significant attention to the world of wine. In the team, we have three fantastic and enthusiastic sommeliers. For me, wines are bottled culture. My personal choice of wine depends on the time, the circumstance, and of course, my mood. How would you describe the cuisine of Spain - and how do you incorporate it into your dishes? Our cuisine is creative, but it does not forget the environment – where we come from and our experiences. Basque cuisine is present, in one form or another, in our all our food. How has the food of Spain evolved over the years? We have been fortunate to have the vision of Ferran Adria, as well as the talent of Spain’s most experienced chefs. All this effort and intergenerational convergence has allowed the ‘art kitchen’ to reach an important level in Spain. It has even spread to other countries.
Who influenced you to become a chef, and how did you train? I fell into cooking – it was my mother’s decision. She saw that I had no talent for studying and showed no interest in any particular vocation. She thought a manual career could be for me, so I attended cooking school in San Sebastian. Eventually, the hunger for learning came to me – and it’s still here today. How does it feel to be ranked as the world’s third best restaurant? I have to admit that I like it – but I try to relativise it. My efforts are focused on providing a unique and singular proposition – though we recognise that awards like this help. What was your favourite meal as a child? I liked the traditional dishes cooked by my mother: in-season vegetables from the Ribera de Navarra, peas from Gipuzkoa, fishes and meats from the Basque country. All those aromas are from my childhood. Do you have a favourite restaurant? I have many favourite restaurants all over the world. Memorable dining experiences can be found in both sophisticated restaurants and simple restaurants. Do you have any favourite English restaurants or chefs? I will always remember the meals at The Fat Duck, Dabbous, El Viajante, Dinners, Hibiscus and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. All are great restaurants, with very good chefs, and they hold very pleasant memories for me. Are there any other projects you are currently working on? We are spending some time working on the gastronomic Le Domaine Hotel, on the Ribera del Duero. It is a unique place, offering a unique experience, in an environment full of culture and sensitivity, which fits well with our values.
60 Autumn 2012
Andoni Luis.indd 60
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Reel Talk Ben Brundell looks at the latest cinema and DVD releases. Argo In 1979, it all kicks off in Iran. Mounting tension over the US support of the former Shah reaches boiling point as furious Islamist students and militants protest outside the American embassy. The bolder revolutionaries start scaling the railings, smashing down doors and taking fifty-two American hostages. During the frenzy, six of the embassy workers manage to escape through a back exit, eventually taking refuge at the house of the Canadian ambassador. Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA Operations Officer and ‘exfiltration’ specialist, must smuggle the escapees out of the country. He’s going to fly into Iran with seven counterfeit Canadian passports and make contact with the six political refugees. If Mendez and his new gang can take on the guise of a Canadian film crew scouting locations for their science fiction epic (think Star Wars meets Planet of the Apes), could they all flee Iran undetected? Ben Affleck both stars in and directs this tense thriller. After receiving high praise for his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone and the follow up The Town, Affleck has acquired the nickname ‘The Comeback Kid’, and seems to have access to better scripts as a director than as an actor; hard to believe this is the same man who starred in Pearl Harbour, Daredevil and Gigli, which were all turds. Argo is another demonstration of Affleck’s considerable directing talents, and his best film to date. The true story (based on Mendez’s book The Master of Disguise and recently declassified CIA documentation) is told with the necessary subtlety to sustain authenticity against the outlandish set-up. And there’s even a healthy dose humour. Truly absorbing stuff. Go see it.
Amour Amour is the second Palme D’Or winning film by hard-hitting Austrian film-maker Michael Haneke. With films such as the darkly unsettling The White Ribbon (Haneke’s other Palme D’Or winner) and 1997’s Funny Games under his belt, he’s built a reputation for creating work of a brutally-bleak, almost punishing nature. His message seems to be: this is real life, and real life can be really horrible. Funny Games was about a family being tortured. No belly-laughs in sight. Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are retired music teachers. They’re octogenarians now, living a happy existence in their spacious Parisian apartment, complete with grand piano and expansive book collection. They enjoy attending piano recitals in the evenings, and spending relaxed mornings together, chatting over a soft-boiled egg and a cup of tea. They are very much in love. Pretty decent, eh? Please, pull the curtain down there. End of film. I’m happy. Unfortunately, from the opening scenes, in which a flash-forward is used, you know that life for the couple is going to take a turn for the worse. And you’ll have to wait over the subsequent one hundred and twenty six minutes to find out how. This is an equally gripping and depressing experience. One morning, during breakfast, Anne just freezes. Her eyes are open, but they stare out blankly from a face devoid of expression. She’s having a stroke. Georges cannot get a word out of her, his panic slowly building. Moments later Anne is fine again and cannot remember her episode. She doesn’t even seem to believe Georges when he explains what just happened. As the months pass, and Anne’s condition deteriorates, Georges becomes increasingly helpless and trapped as he cares for the love of his life (he’s promised never to take Anne back to the hospital). Amour examines love and death, and asks the question: is life always worth living? It’s a crushingly powerful film with superb performances from the French veteran leads. However, I’d only recommend this for Haneke enthusiasts and masochists, and I almost want to suggest a new film classification for material deemed too unflinching for sensitive souls. If you do decide to brave it, have a hot chocolate and cheese toasty ready to perk you up afterwards.
ONF ORM 63
The Art of Film Posters Despite being immersed in the digital age, Hollywood studios still rely on masterful film posters. Since the dawn of celluloid, poster art has been the backbone of movie marketing â€“ in some cases superseding the films themselves. The team at ONFORM have picked a selection of their favourites, from the silent era to now.
This page (clockwise): King Kong (1933); Gone With the Wind (1939); The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920); Jaws (1975); The Phantom Menace (1999); Chinatown (1974). Opposite (clockwise): Cloverfield (2008); V For Vendetta (2005); The Dark Knight (2008).
64 Autumn 2012
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and from b n w o n k n 2, an u s the a d e l l e b a l , Back in 200 s UK shore t i h d a lot d n n a a l , a n e o Z s r w a e e N roll. Ten y d n a released t k s c o u j r f e o v a e r h u s fut e Datsun h T , an ever. r e h t t a r l e t p t i e h b s d d r n of ha d they sou n a â€“ m u b l their fifth a lowdown. e h t s t e g M ONFOR Datsuns.indd 49
“All hail The Datsuns, heroes of the New Rock Revolution,” read the front cover of NME in October, 2002. “The Datsuns are what the world needs,” said Dave Grohl of Nirvana and The Foo Fighters. And so they descended, an antidote to a stagnating UK music scene, introducing a new generation of kids to no-nonsense rock and roll, alongside bands like The Strokes, The White Stripes, and The Libertines. After a ferocious battle between record labels, The Datsuns finally signed an exclusive licensing deal with Richard Branson’s V2 for an unprecedented six-figure sum, going on to collect numerous best-thing-since-sliced-bread awards, and promoted heavily by such deejays as John Peel and Zane Lowe. But it wasn’t the records that people craved; the band had built its reputation on one thing alone – live shows. There isn’t a high-energy band that The Datsuns haven’t been compared to – Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, T-Rex, The Stooges, AC/DC, The Ramones – and at the time, everybody wanted a piece of the action. One music executive went so far to say “I actually pity bands that have to support them or who they support. No one wants to go on before or after them”. In their own words, The Datsuns are “Country boys from Cambridge, New Zealand, and we’d be stupid to think anything else”. They spent their late teens playing small gigs in New Zealand and Australia, winning Battle of the Bands competitions, and selling records on their own Hellsquad label. But it wasn’t long before Dolf de Borst (lead vocals, bass guitar), Christian Livingstone (lead guitar), Phil Somervell (rhythm guitar) and Matt Osment (drums) were thrust into the media spotlight, unleashing their own brand of retro rock on the UK charts. But what goes up must come down. Their sophomore effort, Outta Sight/Outta Mind (produced by Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones) received a critical backlash – a reaction predicted by the band on the penultimate track of their self-titled debut. Indeed, the lyrics to You Build Me Up To Bring Me Down are a scathing reminder of a fickle music press: Everywhere, even your home town / Finally decides you’ve made a sound / They turn their heads and stare at everything you got / And make you something you are not. But The Datsuns were never in it for the fame: “We’re doing this because we love to do it; it’s what we get off on”. And ten years on, with new drummer Ben Cole in tow, they have just released their fifth album, Death Rattle Boogie, lauded for its idiomatic mix of heavy rock, psychedelia, guitar pop and blues. ONFORM sits down with frontman Dolf de Borst to find out more. How are you feeling about the new record? It always takes me a little time. I need to get some space from a record before I start to like it, and this one is no different. We spent a lot longer making this one, so all those little hang ups you have, the things that annoy you, we had a chance to iron those out. But I am pretty happy with this one. You’re all based across the world now. How long did the recording process take? It took maybe a year, but we were all writing on our own and it was recorded over three or four sessions. We started at the beginning of 2011 at my studio here in Stockholm and we recorded fifteen or sixteen ideas. The original idea was to just record an album, but then everyone went back to their respective corners of the world – Christian to London, Phil to Auckland, and Ben to Wellington – and with that little bit of distance and time, it made us think “We can do better than this”. We wanted to rerecord a few things and much of it was left half-finished, so it was up to me to finish on my own at my studio here – vocals, overdubs and things. I actually really hated doing that, because The Datsuns has always been a collective thing, a democracy,
so it was really hard working alone. I would do vocals, send them across, wait for feedback, it was just a really tedious process. I much prefer having everyone together and working straight on it. Later in the year, we got together in New Zealand for a short tour. Usually when we rehearse, we get really bored and have short attention spans, so we just start writing new things. And of course, everyone had been writing by themselves and new material had cropped up in the months in between, so we had a greater pool of songs to choose from in the end. I heard you had forty or fifty ideas? Yeah, basically, that’s why this record is the longest one. It’s fourteen songs, over fifty minutes, and that’s really because we couldn’t decide on what to choose. Everyone had their favourites and everyone had different favourites, so we all mutually agreed on seven or eight of the tracks, and the rest was “If you want that song, then I definitely want this song”. We just thought “f**k it” and threw it all on. Are songs that don’t make the final cut saved or forgotten about? Ideas definitely stay around. There are some things on the record that didn’t feel super-finished, but everyone else was saying “It’s ready now, you need to leave it”. There’s a song called Brain Tonic, which is a slow guitar number, and I was really happy with the lyrics, but thought it could have used another part or something, but everyone on was saying “Leave it”. We then sent the record to our publishers and a week later they said “We really like this song and MTV want to use it”. It’s nice to get other people’s perspective on things. You can really exist in your own little bubble of what you think is good. I really like that dynamic of The Datsuns. It can be really stressful when we’re in the studio, but at the same time, it’s always progressive. There’s the cliché that all songs are like children, but is there one song on the album that you’re particularly glad you made, or perhaps didn’t expect to make? There’s a song called Wander the Night. I never thought we would really do anything like that. It reminds me of The Doors. Yeah, a few people have said that. It’s not a super-conscious thing for me, because I don’t really listen to The Doors all that much, although I do have their records. That song was born maybe five years ago, just the basic idea on the organ and the chords. So, this demo had just been sitting around and I hadn’t shown it to anybody, and we had some free time at Roundhead Studios. We had worked on lots of different ideas and thought “We’ve got another three or four hours tonight, let’s just push record and see what happens”. So I said “I’ve got these chords, maybe we could try something in this vein. Just follow my voice like we do at rehearsals” – because at rehearsals we spend a lot of time jamming, adlibbing. We just played the demo once, and the second take is what you hear on the record. I really enjoy making records like that. I think the next one will be much more spontaneous and adlibbed – just push record and see what happens. Christian and Ben are really good musicians, it’s nice to let them fly and see what happens. People always compare you to bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, but are there any new influences that can be heard on the latest record? We have been listening to a lot of heavy 70s psych and heavy boogie, pretty obscure stuff like Elias Hulk and The Groundhogs. It’s a similar thing to the classic 70s bands, but just a little less well known. After self-producing your last two albums, what was it like working with a producer again? Nicke Andersson co-produced everything we did in Sweden. The other
70 Autumn 2012
Lead singer Dolf performing in France
Live from the living room
Left to Right: Christian Livingstone, Dolf de Borst, Ben Cole, Phil Somervell
stuff was just us. It was really fun. I mentioned before the dynamic of the four of us, and a lot of that is tension, compromising ideas, and we have to stand up to each other. It’s quite nice to have a fifth person to say “This is the best idea”, and they don’t really have a stake in it – they just want to make the best record that they can. John Paul Jones, who produced your second album, Outta Sight/ Outta Mind, must have been one of your heroes. What was it like to work with him? He’s a very genial, lovely fellow. We had a really good time. The whole thing was smooth, possibly too smooth. I could have been pushed a lot harder on a few things, but at the time it was enjoyable. What are your thoughts on Outta Sight/Outta Mind, considering the backlash it generated? It’s kind of a cliché. We were expecting something along those lines anyway. I don’t listen to any of our records, but I really like a lot of the songs on that one. I feel we made really expensive demos with that record. For myself anyway, I feel I should have been more aware of what key were doing some songs in, and been a bit more brutal about some of the things I was doing vocally. Once we’d finished the actual recording part, it was out of our hands, and we ended up remixing things quite a few times. The whole thing was like “Okay, it’s done now – let’s get on with the next one”. But are you happy with it still? I’m not happy with any record! I always think “We should have done this or that”. How has Ben’s drumming brought a new dynamic to the band? Would Death Rattle Boogie have been made without his influence? Definitely not. Matt’s drumming was always perfect for the songs we were making, but Ben’s drumming is a lot more versatile, so if we try something outside the box, he’s totally capable of doing it. He studied drums at jazz school and he can basically play anything. You can see with every record, it’s still very much The Datsuns, but we push it a little further, try new things here and there. Have you managed to gauge a reaction to the new album yet? It’s been really positive. We haven’t put out a record in four years, and it always helps when people miss hearing something, so when they finally hear it, they think “Wow, that’s the sound of the band I love”. The first two singles did that, but once you actually get into the record, there’s a lot more going on. The band has assumed responsibility for the corporate side of things now. Has that been harder or easier? There’s a lot less red tape and bulls**t to go through. It’s like “We want this to happen now” and it’s done. We have fewer resources to draw on, but at the same time it simplifies and streamlines the whole thing. We also don’t have to worry about stroking people’s egos to make them feel part of the project. Music is the same as business – you have business partners, for lack of a better term. A lot of the time, something will be the band’s idea, but you make it sound like it was this person’s idea, so they give one hundred percent to the project. It’s a bit unprofessional, but that’s just the way it is. If you’re doing it yourself, you know what the stakes are, and you know what the numbers are. It’s a lot more basic. Any favourite UK venues? We’ve played the Underworld about four or five times now. It’s not the biggest or smallest venue we’ve played in London, but every time we play there – there’s something about it, I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the way the stage and audience meet each other, it’s fantastic. Will there be a Death Rattle Boogie tour? Definitely, but we won’t be in the UK until the new year unfortunately. Death Rattle Boogie is available now on Hellsquad Records.
ONF ORM 71
D I S C E R N I N G TA S T E S
Objets du Désir
Ring a ding ding Emilio Pucci Crystal-embellished star ring £205 After-dark looks will instantly twinkle when you add Emilio Pucci’s crystal-embellished star ring. With its eye-catching celestial motif, this piece promises to make a statement whether worn with either monochrome or color-blocked outfits. net-a-porter.com
Crotch Rocket Agility Saietta R Bike £13,750
Top-end Tipple Bowmore 1957 £100,000 Bowmore has released its oldest ever expression, the exceptionally rare Bowmore 1957, 54 Years Old. Not only is this the oldest whisky the distillery has ever released, it is also the oldest Islay single malt ever released. Distilled in 1957 and bottled in 2011, this marvel has been lying in wait in the finest oak for over half a century in Bowmore’s legendary No. 1 Vaults, the oldest maturation warehouse in Scotland. With only twleve bottles in existence worldwide, this is the rarest Bowmore and will no doubt become one of the most sought-after and collectible single malt scotch whiskies in the world. bowmore.com
Facing another long traffic jam home tonight? Or will you be cramming yourself into a packed train carriage again? Well how about cutting through the traffic on an outstanding electric sports bike instead? Designed for urban living, the Agility Saietta R Bike combines powerful performance with Hollywood looks. As the specs show, this isn’t simply an exercise in style. Thanks to the Saietta R’s electric motor, the engineers have stripped out all of the bulk that once dictated how a bike should look – letting the design evolve beyond the traditional petrol-driven motorbike shape. agilitymotors.com
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NipTuck Rodial LA Face Lift Kit From £78 Loved by the likes of Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston, Rodial’s skincare kit is the favoured (and much less painful) alternative to facelift surgery. Containing five separate products, the makers claim the LA Facelift’s groundbreaking ingredients can turn back the hands of time by up to 10 years. rodial.co.uk
Viddy well Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess First Edition, 1962, Heinemann £5070 The author’s most famous book, a cornerstone of twentieth-century British fiction, celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year. A compelling and often comic vision of the way violence comes to dominate the mind, the novel is set in a future London and is told in a curious but readable Russified argot by a juvenile delinquent whose brainwashing by the authorities has destroyed not only his murderous aggression, but also a deeper-seated sense of humanity (typified by his compulsive love for the music of Beethoven). It is an ironic novel in the tradition of Yevgeny Zamiatin’s and George Orwell’s anti-utopias, and great investment or gift for any lover of literature. abebooks.com
Verner Panton System 1-2-3 1973 cool £1350 “I want to design furniture that grows up out of the floor,” said Verner Panton. “To turn the furniture into something organic. Which never has four legs.” Pushing materials to their limits was a passion of this Danish architect and designer, who always approached design challenges in unconventional ways. Panton spent three years developing his System 1-2-3 series (1973), which has been rescued from the Panton Estate archives and brought back into production. The 1-2-3 name originally referred to the fact that there were three ways to get it, from a chair without padding to a deluxe, tufted version. birgitisrael.com
ONF ORM 73
Objets du Désir
Flower power Powermonkey-eXtreme £119.99 The powermonkey-eXtreme is the more powerful and rugged big brother to the very successful powermonkeyeXplorer. With a massive 900mAh capacity lithium polymer battery, and IPX7 rated (meaning it is waterproof for 30 minutes up to one meter) the rugged powermonkey-eXtreme is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travellers. With both USB and DC port outputs, it can charge an Apple iPad and other tablet computers, as well as 5V devices. ellis-brigham.com
She wore blue Womens Fantasy II Jacket £229.99
This luxurious weather-beating insulated ski jacket fits really well, and delivers all-day comfort on and off the slopes. Fully-taped ClimaPro 10k/10k waterproof and breathable twill fabric with low bulk 100g ActiLoft insulation. Features removable performance hood, mesh-backed venting zips, chest pocket, stealth zipped hand pockets, wrist pass pocket, lycra inner cuffs, inner pockets for goggles and media, and stretch powderskirt with pants snaps. ellis-brigham.com
Heads up, HUDs up Recon Instruments Mod Live £319.99 Lock the MOD Live into a pair of Recon Ready alpine goggles and you’re good to go. Like a fighter pilot, the HUD will tell you how fast you’re going, how high you’re jumping and how much ground you’re covering. ellis-brigham.com
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Goggle ogle APX White £160 The APX White by Dragon is a very special google. APX stands for Advanced Performance X and it’s a design philosophy focused on technical innovation and smart design from start to finish. Every APX Google comes with a custom APX hard case and includes a lot of features for you. ellis-brigham.com
Lady in red Salomon Men’s Speed II Jacket £359.99 The ultimate jacket for fast, aggressive, front-of-the-mountain skiing. With an engineered athletic fit and highly breathable weatherbeating fabric, the Speed II is a serious piece of kit. In fully-taped ClimaPro Storm 20k/20k waterproof and breathable four-way-stretch fabric, with low-bulk Primaloft insulation. ellis-brigham.com
Packed lunch Dakine Heli Pro Backpack 20L £69.99 The trusted pack for the serious rider. Multiple board carry options and dedicated spots for backcountry gear. Created for charging any line, anytime, all day-long. Features include a vertical snowboard carry; diagonal ski carry; fleece-lined goggle pocket; hydration compatibility; non-padded sleeve that fits most 15-inch laptops; organiser pocket; and tactical nuclear missile (an optional extra for piste bashing). ellis-brigham.com
ONF ORM 75
Leadership: ten actions to help you manage stress Former GCHQ code-breaker and navigator of HMS Ark Royal William Montgomery is right when he claims that leadership impacts every single person – it’s in every facet of our lives, in every decision we make. William has worked with a who’s who of high-profile professionals, many of whom join him on his annual leadership cruises to participate in his acclaimed leadership development and mentoring programme. It was the late Steve Jobs of Apple who said “You are not going find anyone who will give you more practical advice and ongoing support, resulting in measurable improvements to your personal and business life, than William Montgomery”. Drawing on his experience and research, here are William’s top ten ways to manage stress.
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ou’ve just asked one of your teams to carry out a simple little task; one team member did an impression of the Large Hadron Collider and another burst into tears. In fact, quite of a few of your people look like they are close to breaking point. It is National Stress Awareness Day on 7 November, so perhaps it’s time to do something about it.
stressed, because they will feel vulnerable – so you will have to work harder. Get the measure of it. Call it a stress audit or risk assessment, but you must find out who is feeling stressed and whether they are clustered in a particular area. If you have more than five employees, health and safety regulations require you to assess the risk. This is usually a questionnaire asking a representative sample of staff for their views on stress and how it is handled in the organisation.
Identify the causes. Among the common causes of stress are: excessive workload; individual’s lack of control over their work; poor relationship with the boss; poor work/life balance; and the emphasis on fault-finding rather than encouragement. Bullying and organisational change are two more. HSE Management Standards for Work-related Understand what it is. It’s important to appreciate Stress provided a benchmark for best practices in the difference between stress and pressure. We all dealing with each. thrive on pressure, but only when the individual becomes unable to cope does it become stress. Blame the management. The biggest single source That’s when someone is no longer in personal of stress is incompetent, poorly trained and inappropriately promoted managers. A study commiscontrol and feels there is no way of regaining it. sioned by HSE and the CIPD indentifies the skills Spell it out. A written policy should tell your peo- line managers need to minimise the risk of stress ple what to do if they become stressed in the course developing. If in doubt, askten.co.uk. of their work, and what responsibility you’ll take Be attentive. Quick-fix managers may spot a probas an employer. lem but they simply refer it on to someone else, Watch your back. There’s no specific law on stress, such as occupational health. Good managers inbut under the Heal and Safety at Work Act 1974, tervene to establish trust and commitment. you must take measures to control the risk. Failure to do so could cost you dear in an employ- Do say: ‘People who suffer from stress are not going to perform at their best for us.’ ment tribunal.
“The biggest single source of stress is incompetent, poorly trained and inappropriately promoted managers”
Check the sick roll. A spike in sickness or absentee days is often the first indicator of stress in one part of the organisation. But, in the current downturn, people won’t stay away from work even if they feel
Don’t say: ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.’ For further information, please refer to The Directory on page 83
Roast on form 230x297 ad_. 14/09/2012 09:17 Page 1
The best of British at Roast “Great vibe & brilliant for breakfast” Square Meal
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For reservations please call 0845 034 7300 or book online at www.roast-restaurant.com Roast, The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, London SE1 1TL
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T R AV E L
A very big house in the country An Englishman’s home is his castle
ost big families face a recurring dilemma from time to time: a family gathering is approaching, but with new additions and new in-laws, the house just won’t accommodate everyone anymore. And let’s face it, we are all getting a bit too old and too cosseted to be bunking down on floors or putting up camp beds. At the same time, putting everyone up in various hotels and allocating drivers for pick-up and post-drink drop-offs always causes friction and, after all, a hotel just doesn’t feel the same, does it? So, what do you do? The house in rural Herefordshire is the perfect answer, where the entire extended family can relax together in real comfort. The house is a ten-bedroom country mansion with lots of sofas and comfortable corners to burrow into for those long catch ups in front of the fire with a glass of wine. Best of all, there is no sharing of bathrooms, no foregoing of the comforts of home, no taxi runs, and everyone gets time to relax together. We arrived after lunch on a sunny Friday afternoon in August. We were struck by how handsome the house is, full of character and aging gentility. The house sits within a small estate, with its beautiful gardens and grounds running to eight acres. There are lots of barns and buildings to take leisurely walks around and admire, and there is even a pre-Doomsday Book church at the bottom of the gardens next to a tranquil pond (complete with a giant key, much to our amusement). The setting for the house could not be more picturesque and private. The house itself is an H-shaped, red-stone building laid out over
three floors. We used the kitchen entrance mostly, as it was informal and nearest the car park. The old front door is at the other end of the building and there is a double-door entrance that leads directly into the principal drawing room from the front courtyard garden. The double doors can be left thrown open throughout the day to the garden, along with the conservatory doors at the other side of the house, which open onto an exquisite little knot garden at the rear. If you have flicked through Country Life over the years, you will know what to expect of country house decor and ambience. But this is not a formally laid out house, rather it has been adapted and changed over centuries. Originally built around 1642 for the Pearle family, it survived as part-house, part-granary until the 1980s when the current family of owners acquired it. The overall effect is comfortable living in a historic old house, where you are just that – comfortable, not petrified of breaking something or having to stop the kids running around. In short, it feels just like a grand family home, and we quickly adapted to space available to us. The bedrooms were all impressive and have en-suite bathrooms. We chose the house suite for ourselves: a super-king-size bed, acreage for a bedroom, and a natty pop-up TV. The en-suite was fantastic, with good water pressure from the drench showerhead. All of the bathrooms had gorgeous complimentary aromatherapy toiletries to indulge the senses, and plenty of fabulous soft fluffy towels, ticking both boxes at the top of my wife’s hotel must-haves. The teenagers had their pick from the other rooms. Our daughter chose a smaller, pretty four-poster room in the middle of the top floor, with an unusual bathtub in the en-suite. Our son picked a beautiful corner room on the same floor, which was
promptly renamed the Darcy room, after the Jane Austen character. Neither of them could be enticed into the haunted room on the first floor (is it really haunted – none of us were brave enough to find out and the door remained firmly closed throughout our stay), but that absolutely did not stop them playing snooker in the first floor library, or spending time reading on their own next door. I think most men would agree that the single greatest omission from any house, or indeed flat, is a full-sized snooker table. The table on the first floor had been well-used and was slightly faded, as it should be. We spent hours playing frame after frame, whilst the others read quietly from the extensive library, tucked away on comfortable window seats and winged chairs. A nice touch is the Aubusson rug underneath the table that has the family’s coat of arms woven into it. The same coat of arms, with three lions’ heads appears over the front door and in the graveyard of the church, and belongs to the Pearle family. We like to do our own thing when we are away together, so we catered for ourselves in the big country kitchen. At home, we have a very modern kitchen, so cooking on an AGA was a new experience for my wife, but she soon got the hang of it. There is a professional catering kitchen next door, but I only ventured in to reset a trip switch when a light blew before retreating to more familiar surroundings. It is set up to cater for 30 or more. A chef can be hired to prepare a banquet for you and your guests, or indeed to provide full catering for the entire stay. Similarly, you can have housekeeping daily, as you would in a hotel, or half weekly, which is the usual expectation if self-catering. For larger parties, there is an open barn with tabling for thirty, and a huge barbecue, which complements the large traditional conservatory, replete with hand-painted stuco, which is also set up for 30 people. We didn’t use either, as we would have felt a bit lost, but there was a more intimate formal dining room and a study. The house is used extensively for weddings, dining clubs, as a weekend country house (as we used it), and as a special event venue. The choice of large-scale and intimate areas in the house is the key to its flexible use. Now, the big question: what’s it like to live there for a few days? And that is the point, you don’t stay at the house, you really do live there. We settled into relaxed home living pretty much straight away. After the obligatory trek around the grounds to see what was there, the claiming of bedrooms and unpacking, everyone just relaxed and settled in. There is Wi-Fi and reasonably fast broadband, so the iPad users were happy. Bookworms read, chatterers nattered, and walkers, well, they put their boots on and walked. Of course, if the weather is bad and boredom sets in, there is a TV room in the basement with a PlayStation, but happily we didn’t need to resort to that, though I imagine with younger children, this could be a vital part of the house. The striking
thing is, it did rain some of the time, but when you are looking out of the stone mullions of old windows onto beautiful gardens and grounds, it seems to matter less than usual, and we just pulled in our sofas, made a cup of tea and relaxed. Archaeologists have found the remains of Roman buildings on the site and given its favourable position and proximity to so many important Roman sites, the house was probably a grand Roman villa at the start of its life. Many of the barns you see today are half-timbered, some are original, some sympathetically rebuilt to blend in with the environs, and the only slight intrusion to the sense of stately isolation is the owner’s cottage, which is just by the gate (although having someone on hand in an instant does have its advantages). We spent the days out exploring Hereford, Ross on Wye, Hay on Wye, Ludlow, Wroxeter Roman city and beyond. There is easily enough to occupy a week without being reliant on good weather. There are plenty of friendly pubs, restaurants, cafes, pizzerias and bistros in Hereford and the neighbouring towns. An absolute must-see is the Mappi Mundi exhibition at Hereford Cathedral with its fascinating displays and friendly guides to chat to. Beyond the house and grounds, short walks have been created and there are seating areas at strategic points where a quiet hour away from the family can be enjoyed whilst admiring the views. The land around is owned in part by the Duchy of Cornwall and there is a good network of paths over the fields. A word of warning, however: do bring boots with decent treads if it is wet, and don’t rely on photocopied maps. The paths on the Duchy land were clearly marked, signed and maintained, but elsewhere it takes Holmesian skills to discern the pathway and you will need a good orienteering map to help out. I would imagine that nature lovers would be hugely enthused by the diversity of flaura and fauna, as we townies had a much heated debate as to what the ‘velociraptor-chickens’ were that ran about everywhere with an amusing dinosaur-like gait. We thought they might be grouse – and we still aren’t sure! It struck me as we were leaving that it makes such more sense to rent a house like this for the weekend when you need it, rather than taking on the cost and worry of buying your own bolt-hole in the country. The thing that amazed us most, however, was the feedback from the teenagers, who stated quite categorically that they wished we had not left the house to explore so much, but would have preferred to just hang around its many corners and ‘chill-out’. It is so hard to please them at this age, but the house had everything they wanted; they loved it, as did we. We will return – only next time, we will bring the entire extended family to fill up every lovely nook and cranny at this wonderful old house. And we can’t wait.
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R e s t a u r a n t s : STU B L I
Stübli - Walliserhof Zermatt, 3920
“You’ve never tried Fondue, you haven’t lived”
ining at the Wall i s e rh o f H o t e l ’s Stübli restaurant in Zermatt is a very relaxed a f f a i r. Having spent a day on the slopes in near white-out conditions, the skiing was exceptionally hard and so rather than the usual pomp and ceremony we were hoping for something more traditional and typically Swiss. Having been born in the early 80’s, era of MTV, Billy Idol and Transformers, you would have thought that Fondue would have been a firm favourite. Sadly not. Well MTV is now a global brand, Billy Idol still rocks hard and Transformers is Hasbro’s biggest Christmas seller. I could see the shock on my friends faces and possibly even the Mediterranean waiter. “You’ve never tried Fondue”. OK, HOLD ON. It’s not like i wasn’t aware of the moon landing or handn’t seen the Berlin wall come down, i just hadn’t tried a glutinous cheese dish.
This was just too much for the team who insisted i order a tomates Käsefondue. I was allowed to order a small Caesar Salat starter however. Which was perfect if i must say so. Not shellacked in dressing and just the right amount of anchovies. My gastro chums ordered Walliser Teller, a local plate of beef and pork jerky and Ei im Töpfchen mit Steinpilzen und Rohschinken, egg in cocotte with porcini mushrooms and raw ham. Both seemed pretty pleased with their choices as silence fell amongst the group, we chewed contently like brown Swiss cattle on curd. The selection of beef and pork looked liked it had severely wounded Dr Farrow, he listed to one side with a look of great satisfaction and recalled that it was typical German fair. This wasn’t to suggest that the food was produced out of Swiss character but more that his adopted home of Heidelberg produced meals of similar punch. Hearty meat and potato dishes. The egg in cocotte with the mushrooms looked pretty delicious. So much so that i did ponder sending the lovely Taya out at one point on some fictitious errand. I feared for my wedding vegetables so decided to just accept the gracious invitation to ‘take a bite’. A ceaser salad is perfectly tasty but when your surrounded by raclette and Röschti it’s hard
to consider anything but glorious carbohydrates. I was to have the last Pavarotti sized laugh however. The Fondue arrived to anticipatory looks, along with a basket of bread. Not quite greedy enough on it’s own apparently. As i took grasp of the heavy iron lid, i lifted it aloft to reveal the molten muenster, the steaming Stilton, the boiling bavarian blue, (these cheese jokes doing anything for you?). It was quite a dish, obviously i accompanied it with a fair dose of Swiss wine. A must. For me, the dish was a revelation. Less Christian eschatology and more dairy prophecy of course. Like any true foodie, i like all fair and will give any cheese, now matter how long it appears to have been next to Dorian Gray’s portrait in the attic, a fair shout. It was simply put, delicious, a combination of sour and sweet notes that delivered instant gratification for the soul. This is in my humble opinion down to the fine work of Caroline and Sylvain Stefanazzi Ogi who show a real love for the food and curation of this classic hotel. Having slipped into a cheese induced coma, I’m told that my party also ate some fine fair, by this point i was too concerned with the desert menu. I exclaimed no less that ten minutes earlier that i would need to be ‘rolled back up the hill to the chalet’, i appeared to generate my own second wind however. This was just about the most delicious ice cream i have ever tasted. This coming from a man that has spent a fair amount of time in Italy. The Walliserhof has style, character and service to boot. An exceptionally traditional menu paired with some fantastic Swiss wine that makes up 80% of the list made this an outstanding meal. We just hope we will get the chance to visit again and try the hotel’s two other restaurants.
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R e s ta u r a n t s : S pa g h e t t i fa c t o r y
Spaghetti Factory - Hotel Post Zermatt, 3920
Its band of followers return year on year with Waco dedication
f you’ve travelled to Zermatt and not been to the Broken Bar Disco at the Unique Hotel Post, I’m afraid you’ll be up in front of the firing squad in the morning. Okay, I will avoid any more libellous Clarkson-esque diatribes, but to travel to Zermatt and miss the Broken Bar is heresy. For those of you that don’t know, The Broken Bar is situated in the sprawling underbelly of the Unique Hotel Post, built in the 1880s and host to some proper rock and roll, right royal knees-ups. Its band of followers return year on year with Waco dedication, civilian and celebrity alike. The Hotels hallowed halls have played host to Deep Purple’s Jon Lord, Tony Ashton, Geldof, Bowie and Branson, a cacophony of cover models and addled rock stars. Its clients tend to be the most iconoclastic in Zermatt. The hotel today sports four restaurants five bars/clubs, a number of rooms and suites, and a spa. Not bad for a hotel that, from the outside, looks like a traditional Swiss barn. So, enough of my pontificating, what of the food at the Hotel Post? Well, the first decision was to choose a restaurant. Its clientele is varied, but there is definitely
a strong Anglo influence to the place. My predication for haute cuisine usually means that restaurant choices involve white table clothes, doting waiters and several accompanying wines. I decided to go against my usual tastes and opt for the ‘Spaghetti and Pizza Factory’, the hotel’s newest offering. Before your mind conjures up images of screaming ski brats and families climbing over each other to the buffet, as if it were the
The Hotels hallowed halls have played host to Deep Purple’s Jon Lord, Tony Ashton, Geldof, Bowie and Branson last supper – stop. The Factory is as traditionally Italian as it is authentic: a modern but rustic space that occupies the Valaisian chalet that has stood there since 1772. But what of the food, Robinson? You know, the reason you are there. I opted for the tomato salad with buffalo mozzarella, basil and olive oil. The focus for Martin Perren and his team has clearly been to bring
Italian ingredients and cooking methods to the project, and I chose something classic to see if it would be prepared in true Italian style. It’s a classic dish that does, however, require perfect ingredients: sun-ripened tomatoes and basil, good mozzarella (from buffalo, not bison milk), and excellent olive oil. The head chef gets a formal thumbs up here. The onion soup was also a joy I’m told. Despite the fact that the menu and specials offered up venison, sea bass, and a whole host of other land based and aquatic fare, I ordered a pizza. I’m sensing your surprise as you read this. It’s an obvious choice if you want to properly assess a restaurant’s food and see how they cook the basics. I would imagine the wood burning stove helped, though. As always, my eyes were bigger than my toned, washboard belly (coughs loudly). I had clearly underestimated the size of the dish in hand. But with a full stomach and new memories, we headed out of the restaurant and upstairs to Papa Caesar’s lounge Bar, a laid back cigar bar atop the hotel. If you’re looking for Italian in the region and inevitably looking for a night out, you must come to the Unique Hotel Post, if not for the great food and fine wine, then to just walk in the footsteps of the good and the great that have given this modern day rock and roll deity its soul.
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R e s ta u r a n t s : C E R V O
Cervo Mountain Resort Zermatt, 3920
Hunt meets Hip
Hunt meets Hip at the Cervo Restaurant, despite having a herds worth of antlers adorning the walls of this strategically placed hotel, bar and restaurant, deer doesn’t appear on the menu. Or at least not when we stopped in for supper. Located a stones throw from the Sunnegga station, with panoramic views over the village below and the Matterhorn on-high, the Cervo occupies an envious location. Opened in December 2009 by Daniel and Seraina Lauber, like many of the hotels in Zermatt, the CERVO resort is a reclaimed building that was formally a Lauber family retreat. So what inspired them to open in the upper valais? “When I was about six or seven years old, someone asked me what I wanted to do. I remember it clearly: I said I wanted to own a hotel,” says Daniel. “Maybe it was in my bones—not my family’s, who are in a different trade altogether—but to me, being in a hotel feels right somehow. Like home, I suppose. People of the Upper Valais have a tendency to rebel. We consider ourselves the Scots of Switzerland. We can be a little bit edgier than the rest of the country.” If you’ve ever traveled to Switzerlands ski resorts you will find a dichotomy of hulking commercial hotels that seem somewhat cold despite having been there since the world was created and a selection of niche boutiques that still have the size and weight to offer
you that copy of Le Monde or the glass of wine with the flaws made by the indigenous peoples of, wherever. Zermatt’s scene is readily evolving, there are hotels on the ground that are breathtakingly fresh without losing their modernity. “I’m not saying we were the first to revitalize the town’s hotel scene,” he says. “But one needs to understand the context. There was change happening; in the 80s and 90s, Zermatt’s hotels were tending towards Alpine kitsch. By 2000, the town had begun to attract more glamour, responding to a shift in the changing demands of modern travellers. I’m talking about the people who don’t want to wear a suit and tie in a hotel, even though they’ve been wearing one all week. We wanted to create a hunting lodge that respected the roots of the region, but with a vitality that reflected our guests’ new style. Alpine chic, I suppose.” Now that we are all safe in knowledge that the hotels founders and owners are delightful people with the best intentions, What of the food! Well, i really didn’t know what to expect from CERVO. The reviews i had read were glowing. The appetiser was a selection of Home made bread, salted butter and white sausage meat. Luckily two of the party weren’t fans and so it was left to my comrade and i to dig in. The restaurant itself by the way, is very clas-
sic, lot’s of polished wood, beautiful aromas, candles and calories. We started with Wolfbarsch, sautiert an Olivenöl und Jungspinat mit Sardellen. (Sea bass sautéed on olive oil and baby spinach with anchovy). Also the sautierte Leber an Rösti und Apfelkompott mit Jus, (sautéed foie gras on Rösti and apple compote with jus). If your not a fan of Foie Gras, because of the taste, (if your ethically apposed, put the magazine down and walk away), you will have tried it in creamed form, try it cooked. The flavours are far more solid and a lot more game textured. If the antlers didn’t give it away, meat features heavily. I went with the Venison, Rare Hare, Garlic Ravioli and Lamb Ribs, i should say, we went with. Gone are the days of ordering two courses. The venison was packed with flavour, soft yet beautifully textured. The hare, also sublime. If there is one thing that the CERVO does well, it’s meat. Well marbled, aged and hung. Since Seraina gave birth to Theodor in April, she has taken a break from leadership in the kitchen, elevating Marco Drynda to position of executive chef. What a fine job he is doing if we do say so. One thing that the hotel has which pipped our interest, a gargantuan smoking area. Complete with walk in humidor. The perfect way to finish off a beautiful evening at the splendid CERVO Mountain Resort.
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