VOLUME THREE | ISSUE ONE | FREE
The Equinox Edition A celebration of new beginnings, for the mind, body, house and garden. Featuring an extended travel section, and an interview with Helen Lederer.
Worldwide Live presents
“It’s musical gold” Stewart Collins
Sinatra and the Hollywood String Quartet This reinvention of CLOSE TO YOU, one of the great Sinatra recordings, features an ensemble of handpicked musicians, including John Wilson Orchestra / BBC Big Band vocalist MATT FORD, acclaimed chamber ensemble the TIPPETT QUARTET and Ronnie Scott’s artistic director JAMES PEARSON. In the year of Sinatra’s centenary, the group celebrates the genius of Sinatra’s performances and the artistry of Nelson Riddle, the Hollywood String Quartet and the extraordinary studio musicians who so skilfully brought this music to life.
Saturday 16 May 2015, 7:30pm Tickets: £28, £22, £16 Box Office: 020 7730 4500 or book online at www.cadoganhall.com Box Office opening hours: 10am – 6pm Monday – Saturday; booking fees apply Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London, SW1X 9DQ
Editor’s letter T.S Eliot said that April was the cruellest month, and while I am sure he wasn’t referring to the inde cisive we ather we’re being subje cte d to, he summe d it up quite brilliantly. In April, the mind turns to the summer months; it remembers the fe eling of warmth on your skin and the thirst for more be gins to grow. It is for this re ason, our latest e dition has an extende d travel theme – more destination and luxur y hotel fo cuse d travel content, but also a touch of the worldly in other se ctions. From riding in the restaurant car t down to Exeter, to exploring the British dining scene via St.Morit z, there is plent y to get you inspire d for a trip abro ad, or to enhance your leisure time at home. In ar ts, we review the Alexander McQue en ‘Savage Be aut y’ exhibition at V&A –an exhibition that sold out before it had even opene d—and in b o oks we catch up with Helen Le derer of Absolutely Fabulous fame. For more info, you can find us on Twit ter at @KCReview.
PUBLISHER Talismanic Me dia FOUNDER AND M ANAGING DIREC TOR Sid Raghava
EDITOR COCO KHAN
EDITOR IN CHIEF Co co Khan
NEW BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Gre g Holmes
EDITOR AT L ARGE Stephen Slo combe
The Pullman Unlimited
OFFICE M ANAGER Le e Marrero
CONTRIBUTORS Holly Baxter, Holly Black, Nic McElhat ton, Claire Coveney, David Hillier, Rashid Meer, Mark Southern, Ruper t Parker
ART DIREC TOR Harriet Be dder MOTORING EDITOR Lisa Cur tiss
All material in Kensington and Chelsea Review is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system without prior permission of the publishers. Colour transparencies and photographs submitted for publication are sent at the owners’ risk and while every care is taken, neither the publisher nor their agents accept liability for loss or damage however caused. The publishers can accept no liability whatsoeverof nature arising out of nor in connection with the contents of this publication. Opinions expressed within the articles are not necessarily those of Kensington and Chelsea Review and any issues arising therefore should be taken up directly with the contributor.
News curated from the worlds of art, culture and intrigue
We meet Helen Lederer of Absolutely Fabulous fame; review in-depth the new Alexander McQueen exhibition at V and A, Savage Beauty; profile upcoming artist Irina Starkova; and find out what’s happening at Christie’s We dine in the restaurant car on the train to Exeter, catered for by a Michelin starred chef Maldives to Muscat, Beirut, Florida Keys, Iceland, Marrakech, Thessaloniki, and the best UK hotels to get on one knee at Susie Pringle explains exactly what we should be looking for in cashmere The Rich brothers tell us how to be more daring and create risks, and talk about their work for New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay at the upcoming Chelsea Flower Show Restaurant reviews alongside a visit to the St. Moritz Food Festival Test-driving the new Ferrari and a rundown of the best cars out now by category
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READ ALL ABOUT IT A rundown of news from the worlds of art, culture and the plain intriguing, all handpicked for the Royal Borough resident. WORDS: HOLLY BAXTER and COCO KHAN BRITISH AIRWAYS FLIGHTS CAN NOW BE HELD FOR AS LIT TLE AS £5 Anyone searching for the best airline deals will now be able to hold their British Airways flight for up to 72 hours for as little as £5 through the company’s website. This will give customers the time to make sure they’re happy with their flight choices before paying for them. If within 72 hours customers want to pay for their flights, the hold deposit is refunded and the ticket can be bought. This takes away the worry of losing a great flight price while shopping around for better deals - although, with the newly designed seats and cabin interiors just making their experience in the BA fleet, you probably won’t want to go elsewhere. www.ba.com
GRADE II LISTED IV Y CHELSEA GARDEN OPENS ON THE KING’S ROAD Long-awaited destination restaurant The Ivy Chelsea Garden opened at the end of March at 197 King’s Road, combining vintage and luxury in an iconic restored Grade II listed building. The Ivy Chelsea Garden serves an all-encompassing and international menu, including a modern British range, and offers bold yet comforting flavours (chopped lobster rigatoni bake with Amalfi lemon and zucchini is a stand-out dish.) Weekend brunch and afternoon tea are also well catered for. Comprising a bar and bar lounge, cafe, restaurant, orangery, terrace and garden, the choice is yours whether to settle in for breakfast in a corner by one of the sympathetically restored antique mirrors or to enjoy the cocktail list al fresco among the lanterns in the evening. www.theivychelseagarden.com
Garden of Eden erotic art, antiques and collectables
Heavenly Bodies in Chelsea Where East meets West in the world of erotic art
THE D ORCHESTER CELEBRATES CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW WITH UNIQUE ‘LUNCH FLOWER’ MENU To celebrate the opening of the Chelsea Flower Show 2015, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester has created a tantalisingly beautiful ‘lunch flower’ menu which will be served during the week of 19th to the 22nd, and promises to taste as good as it looks. Offerings include the Pistachio and Strawberry Field dessert, an artistic pudding that includes a sculpted brick wall, turf and garden rake, complete with miniature flowers in chocolate flower pots. An unmissable opportunity to play with your food. www.alainducasse-dorchester.com
“Erotica is not a dirty word”, says Olivia Eden, owner of aptly named erotica art gallery Garden of Eden based on the Kings Road in Chelsea. “Appreciating the human body is not something we should be ashamed about”, she continues, “it’s something that should be celebrated and adored, a prime reason behind my desire to open a gallery that does just that.”
533 Kings Road, London SW10 0TZ +44(0)7502 225690
NOBU CREATES LIMITED EDITION COCK TAIL INSPIRED BY ALEX ANDER MCQUEEN To coincide with the Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A, Nobu Berkeley ST has created a limited edition cocktail inspired by the design genius of Alexander McQueen. In celebration of the mastermind renowned for his beautiful and provocative designs, their bar team have fashioned a cocktail to mirror the dark and macabre style that McQueen became notorious for. Using the iconic skull motif that also encapsulates the image of the Dia de la Muerte celebration in Mexico, bar manager Flavio Carenzi has developed a ‘twisted margarita’ which comprises a hedonistic mix of Blanco tequila, matcha tea and Maraschino, topped off with black volcanic salt. Available until the end of the Savage Beauty exhibition. Find out more information visit: www.noburestaurants.com/london-berkeley-st
THE STROKES REUNITE AT HYDE PARK FOR BRITISH SUM MER TIME HYDE PARK West is best, there is no doubt about that but the thing we lack here is a good alternative music festival. The closest space we have for that kind of thing is Hyde Park and it seems like the good people at Barclaycard’s British Summer Time are filling that gap. The Strokes have been announced as the fifth headliner at the festival and will be playing their first London show in five years on the Great Oak Stage on Thursday 18th June They have sold over 5 million albums. The Strokes’ debut album, Is This It, met wide critical acclaim, and was ranked #5 on NME's 500 greatest albums of all time, #8 on Rolling Stone's 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time, and #2 on Rolling Stone's 100 Best Albums of the 2000s. Joining them is Grammy Award winning Beck, and Future Islands www.bst-hydepark.com/
CHELSEA GALLERY PORTRAYS 25 YEARS OF INSPIRING WOMEN The International Women’s Forum UK will be commemorating its 25th Anniversary with a portrait exhibition at The Chelsea Gallery of 16 of its most inspiring women – its 4 founders and first 12 chairs. The portraits have been created by artists in the Lots Road Group: artists who all studied at The Heatherley School of Fine Art in Chelsea. Together they have captured in oils, acrylics, pastel, and print the 16 women who founded or chaired IWF UK during its first 25 years. IWF UK is part of the International Women’s Forum, an organisation which advances leadership across careers, cultures and continents by connecting the world’s most pre-eminent women of significant and diverse achievement. www.rbkc.gov.uk PAGE 3
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G ORD ON RA MSAY GROUP TO OPEN M ANHAT TAN-INSPIRED
L AVENDER HILL CLOTHING L AUNCHES POP UP SHOP ON PORTOBELLO ROAD Portobello Road will see British luxury clothing brand Lavender Hill Clothing grace its shop windows this spring - but only temporarily. The pop up will appear on 27th April to 10th May, and then again on 25th-31st May, and will showcase clothes and accessories from the labels Ville&campagne and Divine Cashmere at the same time. Founded by Isobel Ridley, Lavender Hill Clothing focuses on beautifully made ‘raw essentials’: timeless pieces of high quality that remain affordable and able to be worn every day. Strong ethics are at the core of the business, which works with a family-run factory in Leicester and the best knitting factories in Europe to create its signature pieces.
M A ZE GRILL IN CHELSEA This May will see the launch of the Gordon Ramsay Group’s third maze Grill at 79 Royal Hospital Road, originally the site of Ramsay’s Foxtrot Oscar. The vibrant 55-cover restaurant, inspired by the grillrooms of Manhattan, will offer the concept’s signature rare breed steaks, fish and poultry from the grill alongside an extensive selection of small plates, salads, sushi and sashimi. After the celebrated success of the flagship maze Grill in Mayfair, Stuart Gillies, managing director of the group, told us that Ramsayites have decided to extend their influence into cosmopolitan neighbourhood locations. www.mazegrill.co.uk
STUNNING RARE PHOTO GRAPHS G O ON DISPL AY FOR THE FIRST TIME AT THE SCIENCE MUSEUM Rare early scientific photographs are to go on display for the first time alongside significant works they inspired by some of the 20th century’s pre-eminent art photographers in a major exhibition at Media Space at the Science Museum. The Revelations exhibition explores how early scientific photography has inspired generations of art photographers, including ground-breaking work from the likes of William Henry Fox Talbot. For those who enjoy their science with a side of creativity, a la the Wellcome Collection, this exhibition co-curated by Greg Hobson (the National Media Museum) and Dr Ben Burbridge (University of Sussex) couldn’t make for a better day out. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/revelations AHOY BOURBON L ANDERS Woodford Reserve Double Oaked has landed in the UK Now continuing the small-batch Kentucky bourbon’s tradition of creating rare whiskeys in UK. Carrying a delicious full-bodied flavour of dark fruits, caramel and hazelnut, Double Oaked is packed with flavour, yet is as smooth and balanced as its original counterpart. Created by Master Distiller Chris Morris and hand-crafted at America’s oldest operating distillery, it is the perfect whiskey for the modern discerning drinker and a must have for all whiskey connoisseurs. www.woodfordreserve.com
HIGH FASHION BOUTIQUE WITH A CONSCIENCE L AUNCHES IN NOT TING HILL Fertha, a socially conscious boutique stocking clothes and accessories for men and women alongside trinkets for the home, has opened its doors in the heart of Notting Hill. Aiming to reroute the supply chain of the clothing industry by utilising garments that already exist, Fertha makes use of designer and vintage pieces personally hand-picked by the owner, Jade Alice Galston, a luxury marketer and London College of Fashion alumni. What really makes the enterprise special, however, is how it supports multiple leading UK charities under one roof: currently, Barnardo’s, children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent, hospice care charity Rennie Grove and deafblind organisation Sense all benefit from the unique enterprise. www.fertha.com
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BREAST CANCER CARE PROMISES TO TURN LOND ON PINK AF TER DARK Breast Cancer Care is urging London and Home Counties residents to join the charity and a sea of pink-clad walkers on Saturday 4 July 2015 for the first ever London at Night Pink Ribbonwalk. The walk will take in the iconic landmarks of the capital from the Royal Festival Hall, to Tower Bridge, St Pauls, the West End, Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Harrods and beyond. There are options to walk a five, 10 mile or 20 mile routes. The shorter route will be open to families; children over the age of eight will be able to take part and the age limit for the 10 and 20 mile routes has been lowered to 14, so the whole family can enjoy the walk and support the very worthy cause together.
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THE MENTALISTS BAFTA winning writer, comedian and actor Stephen Merchant, wellknown for his roles in The Office, Extras, Life’s Too Short and An Idiot Abroad, is making his West End debut during a strictly limited season of The Mentalists this summer. Directed by Abbey Wright and featuring Steffan Rhodri - Gavin and Stacey’s Dave Coaches - alongside Merchant, the play promises to be a sell-out. Writer Richard Bean has seen huge West End successes with One Man, Two Guvnors and Great Britain, and a full house is expected at the launch of his latest masterpiece at Wyndham’s Theatre. Tickets are on sale now. www.thementaliststheplay.com
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Spray painted dress, Alexander McQueen, S/S 1999, Catwalking OPPOSITE: Duck feather dress, The Horn of Plenty, Alexander McQueen, A/W 2009-2010, FirstVIEW
SAVAGE BEAUTY With over 30,000 tickets sold before the doors even opened, it is no surprise that Savage Beauty is already set to be the most attended exhibition in the V&A’s history. Following from the original incarnation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2011, this astounding retrospective has been brought back to Alexander McQueen’s home city to retell the remarkable story of his journey from East End apprentice to master couturier. HOLLY BLACK reviews the show. Images courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London
At the age of 16 McQueen began the first of several tailor’s apprenticeships on Savile Row, voraciously studying the technical skills required to create some of the world’s finest suits. His progress was remarkable, his natural talent evident, and after applying for a position as a lecturer at Central Saint Martins – despite being distinctly unqualified – the selection panel were so impressed by his portfolio that he was invited to embark on the college’s prestigious Fashion Design MA. Thus began an unprecedented career that saw him head up Givenchy at the age of 27 and win the British Fashion Awards’ Designer of the Year four times. Savage Beauty begins with darkness, a suitable introduction to a creative whose entire career was based on revealing the allure of the macabre. A vast portrait of the man himself haunts this transitional hallway, gently morphing into a disquieting skull as the eyes flicker, and serving as a gentle reminder of his tragic suicide five years ago.
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This unsettling, melancholic preface makes the first gallery all the more impressive. The industrial space is akin to the unorthodox venues of some of his earliest shows, with a throbbing soundtrack and imposing catwalk footage assaulting the senses. Here some of McQueen’s earliest and most controversial designs are displayed. Torn and muddied dresses from Highland Rape are among the most wellknown, the title of which sealed his fate as a cause célèbre after he was accused of misogyny for celebrating violence against women. He has always ferociously contested the reading, claiming it alluded to England’s brutality against Scotland during the Jacobite rebellion. The ‘London’ room presents perhaps the most familiar view of McQueen, that of a defiant young designer whose unbridled creativity shocked and seduced the fashion world, but often fell victim to sensational misinterpretation. An incredible selection of work that shows off his fantastic tailoring follows, from exaggerated, PAGE 6
pincered jackets and frock coats to the infamous ‘bumster’ trousers. These first two galleries are the only examples that follow any real sense of chronology, and it is the wonderful thematic reenvisioning of McQueen’s work throughout the rest of the show that truly reveals the depth of his capacious talent and his ongoing affinity with Romanticism. ‘Romantic Gothic’ is an opulent, decaying palace filled with filigree mirrors that show exquisite and grotesquely beautiful gowns, including an entirely feathered, hooded dress of voluminous proportions and a heavilybound leather creation accessorised with avian skulls. These borderline sadistic garments from collections such as A Twisted Fantasy imbue a malevolent darkness that is wonderfully balanced by the lighter, reposeful creations of his posthumous collection Angels and Demons, found sealed in an enormous gilded cabinet at the other end of the space. Each of Savage Beauty’s ten rooms work
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as autonomous microcosms for McQueen’s boundless artistry. ‘Romantic Primitivism’ takes you to an exotic, underwater cave crowded with animal hide garments that are adorned with crocodile heads and antelope antlers, whilst ‘Romantic Nationalism’ embodies the form of an aristocratic courtroom filled with exquisite embroidery, swathes of tartan and layers of frothy tulle. The exceptional rhythm and energy that flows through this exhibition is crucial in presenting the true essence of McQueen’s dramatic concepts, and has been achieved through the direction of Gainsbury and Whiting, the production company that collaborated on many of his live shows. Nowhere is their influence more pronounced than in the Cabinet of Curiosities. This double height gallery is filled from floor to ceiling with hundreds of garments and accessories. Footage of models walking through rings of fire or walking on water are interspersed with inspired
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collaborations with the likes of milliner Philip Treacy and jeweller Shaun Leane. The central attraction however, is the finale outfit from No.13. The dress was worn by a model on a revolving platform who was ‘live-painted’ by two enormous robots, and was inspired by a kinetic sculpture by Rebecca Horn. In a space such as this, one is able to truly engage with the intense level of creativity that McQueen employed. He looked not only to his immediate surroundings, but history, heritage, psychology, art, politics and music. The pure joy found in viewing his exquisite works in each of these galleries is compounded only by their fantastic presentation which, quite rightly, are heavily informed by his catwalk shows and are recreated on several occasions. One prime example is the reenactment of Pepper’s Ghost, a 19th-century illusion technique used to project a spectral three-dimensional form of Kate Moss in PAGE 8
the finale of the Widows of Culloden. It is this fusion of couture and theatre that makes McQueen’s translation to an exhibition setting so successful. By removing the safety glass, timelines and side-lining the prescriptive texts, the V&A has triumphantly broken the mould of a traditional fashion display, allowing for an immersive encounter that permits viewers to truly experience this gifted designer’s multiple worlds. Many have questioned whether or not couture can be defined as ‘art’, or whether it should. But it is safe to say that this show has as much emotional authority and aesthetic merit as any classically defined exhibition. In Savage Beauty McQueen’s voice is allowed to permeate, but perhaps more importantly, his clothes speak for themselves. Holly Black is Assistant Editor at Art Quarterly and worked on the cataloguing of the McQueen archive held by the Isabella Blow Foundation.
Installation view of ‘Platos Atlantis’ gallery 2015
Installation view of ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ gallery 2015
Installation view of ‘Romantic Nationalism’ gallery 2015
ALL: Alexander McQueen, Savage Beauty at the V&A Opposite: Installation view of ‘Romantic Exoticism’ galler 2015 PAGE 9
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TWITCHY ORGANS Review: Nico Muhly, James McVinnie and Oneohtrix Point Never @ Union Chapel If a show like this was going to move beyond the point of being, basically, a live iPhone playlist of self-evidently good music – presumably its aim, based on the protagonists’ repeated emphasis, in the accompanying literature, on iconoclastic collaboration and fucking up each other’s shit – it needed to either produce an occasional something greater than the sum of its parts, or curate itself into a really thematically interesting place. Intriguing, the majority of its transcendent success stories were the result of pairings, rather than a full threesome. The Muhly-McVinnie combo is a no-brainer: they’re established, extremely happily-matched collaborators. Muhly wrote all of the music on McVinnie’s last album, Cycles, and James’s even, flawless, luminous technique is a necessary counterbalance to Nico’s cascading ideas. Here, thrillingly, this relationship started to eat itself. So during an almost hilariously highbrow recital of the O Antiphons, a plainsong sequence from medieval liturgy, performed in full by James and the tenor William Balkwill, Nico started complicating the minimalist-monastic pulse of James’s playing with flickering little sonar counter-rhythms (which will be familiar to anybody aware of Muhly’s ‘Fast Twitchy Organs’, one of the inspirations behind this project – that and the double-entendre of ‘organ’, I daresay) triggered
by his own, electric organ. I was sat in the gallery of the UC, right next to a speaker, which meant that the digital sound felt delicately isolated, like a single oboe, compared to embodied, surroundsound charge of the organ, apparently emerging from the very architecture of the chapel building. Organ dominance was equally responsible for the high-point of James’s interaction with Oneohtrix Point Never, during a new version of the closing track of R Plus Seven, ‘Chrome Country’, towards the end of the show. The amazing moment in 0PN’s album, when the organ of the opening track finally punches back through, at the very end of the record, to conclude on a note that resembles the final melodic catharsis of a Philip Glass opera – that was realised here with the full force of the Union Chapel’s pipes, evaporating the intricate loops of the track up to that point. This was the basis of the success of Jamie and 0PN’s collaboration: the fact of the organ, rather than any particularly inspired choices. Smart choices were very much responsible for Nico and 0PN’s musics rubbing up against each other so effectively, though. An addition to the set that Nico tells me was very last-minute (although it fitted so well that I’m suspicious) was ‘Skip Town’, a piece that is driven by clanging, almost argumentative passages of keys and
percussion that resemble 0PN’s construction of beats from sampled café chatter and grinding cogs. In a similar vein, Nico approached the augmentation of 0PN’s tracks with the same kind of witty, instinctive, slow-resolving interventions – with lots of white space in between – that fleck several tracks on his most recent album Drones. Layer all three together, though, and the delicately balanced dialogues ended up a little flooded with synthy splashy washes of sound – sometimes plungingly loud, and wonderful for it, but failing to isolate the nobility of the organ, the contrasting similarities of Nico’s and 0PN’s projects, the bizarro twitches of these clever musicians circling and snapping at one another. Perhaps the primary point of the show was in fact these duets, and the family on the stage was above all a product of something as simple as mutual appreciation. I mean, that would be totally fine. Once, in an interview, I asked Nico why he mainly invites his friends to play at the events he sometimes programmes, and he was like: why wouldn’t I do that? pointnever.com/ nicomuhly.com/ www.jamesmcvinnie.co.uk/
Twitchy Organs Oneohtrix Point Never by Timothy Saccenti
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DON’T MISS THE PARTY AT POLO IN THE PARK London’s summer social season officially starts this year with Chestertons Polo in the Park which takes place on 5-7 June at the ‘spiritual home of polo,’ Hurlingham Park, Fulham. Now in its seventh year, the three-day sporting spectacle brings world class polo right to the heart of London. With its vibrant party atmosphere and thrilling polo on display, the tournament is now firmly established as one of the capital’s hottest tickets. New to this year’s schedule is the addition of an England International match which will take place in the evening of Friday 5 June. Sporting history will be made as it will be the first England International polo match played at Hurlingham Park since 1939. For the rest of the tournament, six teams, representing cities from around the world, play with three-man teams on a slightly smaller field than usual, meaning the action is never far away from the spectator. The traditional rules are adapted to create a much more spectator-friendly game - perfect for polo newcomers. This year the visiting teams taking on the London home team are last year’s winners Abu Dhabi, Lagos, Hong Kong, Dublin and Bangkok. England International polo player, George
Meyrick said: “Chestertons Polo in the Park has become one of my favourite tournaments. Playing at Hurlingham Park - the original home of polo - for any polo player is an utter privilege and the opportunity to play in an international there just immense. It is sure to be an epic game.” The action on the side of the playing field is just as entertaining as the action on the field - with bars and hospitality spilling around the perimeter of the pitch. Mayfair’s famous nightclub, Mahiki Bar will be shaking up some amazing cocktails from its pitchside bar (which happens to be the longest pop up bar in Europe) whilst the Lanson Champagne Garden Bar provides a wonderfully civilised place to view the sport. What’s more Chestertons Polo in the Park provides a complimentary Kids Club which is a safe, enclosed, fully staffed area filled with bouncy castles, inflatable play zones, a soft play centre, table football games and circus games. The tournament kicks off on Friday 5 June, dubbed ‘Chukka Friday’ and is a favourite for corporates and their guests. Matches are played
well into the evening and with post 5pm tickets at just £10, it’s the perfect place to escape to after work. Saturday is traditionally known as ‘Ladies Day’ - a chance for the girls to glam up! This day is usually a sell-out long before the event, so it is advised to book early for this day to avoid disappointment. ‘Finals Day’ on Sunday 7 June is specially geared up to provide fun and entertainment for families - with complimentary face painting, balloon sculpting artists and interactive children’s activities on the field. In addition, the hugely popular children’s entertainers, Sharky & George will be there performing their must-see acts throughout the day.
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Tickets start from just £10 and can be purchased from www.ticketmaster.co.uk. Early bird and group discounts apply. For more information visit www.polointheparklondon.com.
ABSOLUTELY RAVENOUS CLAIRE COVENEY meets acclaimed comedienne Helen Lederer to discuss her new novel, Losing It – a book about weight-loss, debt and chaos. London-dwelling Helen Lederer is a veritable Renaissance woman when it comes to comedy; according to her website biog she acts, she does stand up, she writes columns - there are the TV shows, radio shows, one woman shows, she does voices, she does speeches (and on an aside she is also a wine enthusiast, and knows her stuff too as her stint as wine columnist for the Saturday Express magazine testifies). She is however perhaps best known for her role as the dippy Catriona in Absolutely Fabulous, a part that was reprised in every one of the 6 series. As of February this year she has been able to add ‘writes books’ to this very impressive list of achievements, as her debut comedy novel, ‘Losing It’ was released. The book features Millie, a divorced agony aunt in her 50s who is in trouble financially, and thus gets embroiled in the marketing of a diet pill in the hope of paying off her debts, and losing a few pounds in the process. The reviews for the novel have been positive, as has the response from her friends and contemporaries in the business, including her Ab Fab co-star Joanna Lumley declaring it to be ‘savagely funny [with] scene after scene of blissful agony’, and Stephen Fry stating ‘In one hilarious bound Helen Lederer has crowned herself Queen of Desperate.
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Desperately funny, desperately engaging, desperately readable and desperately adorable.’ Helen has stated during the promotion of the book that it is not autobiographical, ‘I’m not a national treasure whose life people want to read about; I was even cut out of Wikipedia – I’m not important!’ [Ed. She’s since been reinstated!] But she has revealed that the story itself was based on a personal experience from when she was offered money to promote a weight loss capsule. In hindsight she thought the concept might make for a funny self-contained tale ‘where your life is in someone else’s hands – the trainer at the gym, the agent, the PR people and the client. No weight loss? No fee’. The main themes of the book according to Helen are desperation, denial, debt and chaos. The chaos results from trying to ‘have it all’, and failing miserably, ‘We all want the perfect body, sex life and family back drop which is in fact unachievable. This doesn’t stop us striving.’ Indeed, in this story Millie’s quest for the ‘perfect body’ leads her into many scrapes, with hilarious consequences, but also, rather surprisingly, some quite relatable scenarios for anyone who is desperate to change their situation but doesn’t quite know how. PAGE 12
“Wit is an unsung commodity when it comes from a female brain”
What is it about the protagonist from 'Losing it', Millie, that you think will compel people to want to read about her? I’m hoping the reader may identify with what is inside Millie’s head sufficiently enough to empathise with her weakness about food and self-loathing; but also her humour that lurks beneath. You have said that Millie is based on many people, including yourself, but her life is in some ways quite shambolic, yet your career has had such longevity and variety that you must be incredibly organised and focused! Is this one of the areas where you and the character differ? Oh my word I never had a plan! Other than to write and perform if I possibly could afford to do that –there wasn’t really job description for me in the 80’s but somehow I have hung on in there. I’ve had phases of great jobs and phases of writing a lot and getting things accepted and rejected as well. Please explain the term ‘Mid-Lit’, which I have heard being bandied about amongst the buzz for the book. I see Mid-Lit as the next stage on from the genre Chick-Lit without being Granny-Lit! i.e. of interest to empowered 45 pluses as well as I hope anyone else – I coined the phrase after I’d written ‘Losing it’ to help people want it. Can you describe a typical ‘writing’ day for you? Are you quite strict on yourself time/word count-wise for example, and do you find it easy to motivate yourself? I get up very early having not drunk the night before! I light a candle, make a huge cafetiere of coffee and go over the chapter I did the day before and move forward as much as I can. Then the next day I correct the words of the day before -10 hours is my limit but 5 hours is normal! You’ve said in previous interviews that you really enjoyed the process of writing the book; can you explain why you think that is, as well
as mention other highlights that you’ve had during your extremely varied career. I loved being able to shut myself off from the chaos and worries that ordinary life offers up and just do one thing obsessively, which suits my personality! Also I don’t have to worry what anyone else thinks of me while I’m tucked in at my desk with glasses and a strange hair slide. I particularly loved the 90’s when jobs came in and people laughed a lot –before the heightened status of celebrity of today enveloped us all. But life moves on and we just have to embrace what is – I’m never happier than when I’m working and having a laugh, one way or another. This year you are launching CWIP (Comedy Women in Print) in order to celebrate comedy writing by women. Having worked in comedy since the 80s, do you feel in some ways we are going backwards with regards to women being taken seriously (so to speak!) in comedy, and if yes, why do you think that is? Well, I’m excited to try and add to the canvas of literary prizes by highlighting a range of female content from plays to reviews as well as fiction. If we encourage and highlight we might start to make a difference – wit is an unsung commodity when it comes from a female brain – I love it. And we don’t all have to be the same either – that will be the joy of it! And finally, are there any plans to write another book? If yes, what would you like to write about next? I’m about to start. It has been in my head for three years! Similar but different to Losing It and I can’t wait to get my PJ’s on with a scrunchy and just write! For more information on Helen Lederer and Losing It visit www.helenlederer.co.uk
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Gbenga Offo | Hair Dressing | Oil on Canvas | 2014 | 110 x 140 cm
AABRU ART’s Transcending Boundaries 2015: The Leading Platform for Modern and Contemporary West African Art 22 April – 11 May & 17 May 2015.
Aabru Art’s Transcending Boundaries is back for its third year – featuring exceptional neverbefore-seen artworks by 35 Nigerian artists. The show is continuing the success of Transcending Boundaries 2013 and 2014 and offers an opportunity to invest in pieces by well-known masters in their region and internationally emerging artists of great quality. Aabru Art and its show are paving a path for Modern and Contemporary West African Art in London. Aabru Art is a London based firm dedicated to evolving, sourcing, promoting and selling Modern and Contemporary West African Art. The company and its founder Anshu Bahanda work closely with the artists to develop their careers, raise awareness and provide high quality artworks to the international buyer. Transcending Boundaries 2015 is the largest selling Modern and Contemporary West African show in London and a venue for people to admire and buy varied paintings and sculptures in mixed media, oil on canvas, wood and metal. The show begins with a 2-day programme at Asia House, a historic building in the heart of London, from 22 – 23 April and continues with a 3-week exhibition and events programme at Lacey Contemporary Gallery from 24 April – 11 May when Aabru Art is collaborating with Lacey Contemporary Gallery, an exciting new Holland Park Art Gallery exhibiting artists from the contemporary emerging art markets. The show goes on with an Aabru Art Charity Day to benefit Tulsi Chanrai Foundation at La Petite Maison, a prestigious restaurant in
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Mayfair, London on 17 May. Aabru Art believes in the strength of their artists to portray their notable talent and in the stories that their works of art convey. A beautiful example is Kehinde Sanwo’s Tribal Influence, an oil painting on textured canvas. It is part of a series that pay tribute to Pablo Picasso’s career and visually illustrate, document and celebrate the influence of African Art, especially African masks and sculptures, on Picasso’s work. Is Picasso’s art the legacy of African Art? “The last two editions of Transcending Boundaries were about the boundaries we have transcended and what we have achieved. This year, this exhibition is different. It is about the boundaries that are yet to be transcended – in Africa and globally. It is about important issues, facing us today – a value of one’s life, environmental concerns, political instabilities and many more. It is about using art as a catalyst for change.” – Anshu Bahanda Artists participating in Transcending Boundaries 2015 - Abiodun Olaku, Abraham Uyovbisere, Ade Ogundimu, Adebanji Alade, Alex Nwokolo, Ben Ibebe, Ben Osaghae, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Bunmi Babatunde, Diseye Tantua, Duke Asidere, Ebenezer Akinola, Edosa Ogiugo, Emenike Ogwo, Fidelis Odogwu, Francis Uduh, Gab Awusa, Gbenga Offo, Gerry Nnubia, Joshua Nmesirionye, George Edozie, Juliet Ezenwa Maja-Pearce, Kehinde Sanwo, Kolade Oshinowo, Lekan Onabanjo, Nobert Okpu, Osagie Aimufia, Reuben Ugbine, Sam Ebohon, Sam Ovraiti, PAGE 14
Segun Adejumo, Tayo Quaye, Tola Wewe, Toni Okujeni and Tunde Ogunlaiye – are all members of distinguish association the Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria. Anshu Bahanda is also advising on a Collateral Event of the 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, called ITALIA DOCET | Laboratorium, where Raffaello Sanzio’s drawing of the School of Athens is used as a base, a motherboard which lends itself to a variety of interpretations by allowing contemporary artists to add to and provide a modern-day interpretation. An initial group of participants – 5 of whom are Aabru Artists – Chidi Kwubiri, Edosa Ogiugo, Kolade Oshinowo, Samuel Ovraiti and Revati Sharma Singh will present their own personal form of expression. The Aabru Art mantra is and has always been ‘What do you want your legacy to be...’ Come and join us on this extraordinary journey... For more information please visit www.aabruart.com. For an invite to the Champagne Reception at Asia House, purchases and information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 7847 244 217 Transcending Boundaries 2015 runs: 22 – 23 April | Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP 24 April – 11 May | Lacey Contemporary Gallery, 8 Clarendon Cross, London W11 4AP 17 May | La Petite Maison, 54 Brook’s Mews, London W1K 4EG
www.gregoryphillips.com or call 020 7724on 3040 Gregory Phillips prides himself his ability Phillips Architect’s spectacular portfolio, visit: luxury and beauty.” architect that we use to For contact information and to see more of the Gregory support for their lifestyle. ween experiences, these It should also provide owners. It must be totally practical and provide a the texture of materials, is home a sanctuary for the of athe wayand lightshould entersprovide a
He says, “For me, a house and an apartment . Certain ideasto are taken relevant skills ensure we get the right result.” sustainable and then provide herent qualities weelegant solutions. context. If an Iexisting from the crowd. aim that we give more time to technology of or today allows architect Gregory ll have an series service andidea holistic designs and so we stand out both functional beautiful; the paces must appreciate workand and aesthetically bethat we provide that clients a unique 100% energy saving LED light fittings that are ebeen totally practical, scarce. So therethe is more competition. I hope luxury apartment also incorporates with This some commissions fundamental residential because other work has providePhillips calm and elegance to the space. regory In recent yearssays, many“Allarchitects have taken on used in this is restrictedat to Thames a minimumQuay to shment of project an apartment in Chelsea. WORDS: EUGENIE FITZGERALD sign. residential projects since the late 1980’s. as Italian homes marble that plaster. The palate of materials emporary homes since 2000 are and I have worked on Thevery walls arematerials largely clad in stained oak as well he Hebest says, “I havetospecialized in designing the Laurentian Library in Florence. ,architecture it isworld not famous surprising thatin a truly and design spectacular way. ishome a stone Michelangelo on the steps to yshows for that founder the used off GregoryofPhillip’s holistic approach to floor slabs with underand floor heating. Pietra Serena technology, property into the interior design. This particular project using luxurious materials; including Pietra Serena lients hailingaspects from The architectural of the home, as well as input abstantial ‘perfect’extensions interior. Itandis immaculately detailed of his others he provided the design for both the was to take the shell of the apartment and to make or the building of interior designer; withnew this property as with many Salero designed in Chelsea Harbour, the concept chitect, to be notGregory simply Phillips, an architect but also a talented apartment he and project architect Jay tionalIn the award winning
our projects than most, with more experience and HELSEA Phillips to REVIEW design and create homes that are both
The following is an extract from Gorsky by VESNA GOLDSWORTHY Out Now from Chatto & Windus, £12.99
‘It was a piece of business that comes along once in a lifetime. If you are lucky. First there was a year of glamorous parties: an unexpected, undeserved year, unlike anything I had ever experienced. Then it all suddenly stopped and I had to return to what I was before, to a different language and a different place. Gorsky changed my life. I remember his first visit to the shop. You couldn’t fail to notice him, even in a city like London, in which millions are bent on attracting attention. People walk around with exhibitionist swagger, as though starring in their own YouTube clip. He was quietly remarkable: foreign, expensive, somehow still even when he moved, his volume turned down permanently. His melancholy muzzle was equine and aristocratic, and his tailored worsteds so ripely English that at first I thought he could only be Prussian. A lot of redundant Deutsche princes dabble in antiques and art in these reaches of Knightsbridge and Chelsea. They often punch above their meagre monetary weight when it comes to tailoring, these von Thises and von
Thats. He possessed billions, more money than anyone can surely spend, let alone need, in a lifetime. He dressed the part, too, but you had to look closely to notice it. His money did not shout. It whispered in the rustle of whitest Egyptian cotton, finest cashmere and softest calfskin, and in the ticking of the most precise platinum watch mechanism ever made. He had so many more or less identical Savile Row suits that they must have been as disposable as tissue paper: I don’t imagine he bothered with dry-cleaning. And although I used to spend half my life staring out of the shop window, trying to guess the birthplace of each occasional passer-by, Russia did not even cross my mind. It’s not so much that his hyperborean blondness did not fit the frozen marshes of the Neva estuary. Something more intangible about the set of his features directed me towards old Königsberg. Narrow and chiselled like a tall crystal vase, with blue eyes set a touch too near his long straight nose, his face made him look taller than he was, and like a creature from another era – Ernst Jünger’s best mate, a wandering Balt, or Byron’s Germanic pen pal PAGE 15
painted from the back by Caspar Friedrich, turning slowly towards the viewer with some profound insight about the frozen sea he had been gazing at a minute before. The Russians looked tougher, beefier and coarser, even when they were undeniably handsome. I don’t mean Russians in general, of course, but the Russians in this handful of London’s richest postcodes, that self-selected set of men belonging to the generation which in the West would have been called baby-boomers. In Russia, their lives had spun a full circle. They grew up in shared apartments, made billions in crude oil, gas or sophisticated scams, spent it on houses, horses, whores, and occasionally hired killers, and finally returned to playing cards with each other just as they did in the bad old Communist days, only now surrounded by squads of bodyguards. I should have guessed that he was Jewish too. But in the end his Jewishness mattered to him and Natalia Summerscale more than it mattered to me. They were Russian. I am not...’
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A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST: IRINA STARKOVA Irina Starkova is an artist and photographer living in between Monaco and London. Here, she reconsiders portraiture in her vibrant new project “New Idols and Modern Muses”, part of the exhibition of Russian artists opening from 25 March until 5 April at Kensington’s Russian Cultural Centre. WORDS: SID RAGHAVA How did ‘New Models and Modern Muses’ come about and what else have Collection Red got planned in the near future? I set out to create a series of confronting tongue-in-cheek family portraits based on mythological subjects and figures from antiquity. There’s a sort of cut and paste element to the pieces. Each piece started out as monotone bust and developed organically as I gradually added colour, costumes and backgrounds to each portrait. I wanted to add some humour to the hacked carvings and the portraits all have elements of politics and modern society running through it. The subjects reference the everydayness of mug shots or selfies and at the same time old classical portraiture. By conveying ancient figures against modern backdrops I wanted to show how they might fit into a modern environment, for example, Homer the grandfather figure wearing a Christmas cracker hat. We love your juxtapositions of past figures in contemporary settings and the fusion of photography and painting – where did you
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get your inspiration and how did you develop your style? I am a figurative artist and I started out doing portrait commissions primarily with oils. My style is a mixture of pop with classic. I like to use a bold palette and overstated contrasts. I love painting people. Inspiration comes from dreams, the people I meet and also through hours of audiobooks and radio that I listen to whilst working. Normally, I have a very clear mental image of my subject and composition. I’m quite obsessive once I start painting – I work on two or three pieces simultaneously. Painting for me is an addiction. Is this your first engagement with the Russian Cultural Centre? Also, how exactly do you split your time between Monaco and London? This is my first exhibit with the Russian Cultural Centre and I am currently preparing for my upcoming show in London later this year. One of the great things about being an artist is that I can work from pretty much anywhere in the world. I was commissioned to make several PAGE 16
portraits in Monaco last year, so I moved to the Cote d’Azur to complete the commissions and I ended up staying. At the moment, I am working from my studio in Beausoleil, which is just above Monaco. It’s an idyllic and peaceful setting, which gives me time and space to think. However, London holds a very special place for me as there is so much scope for creativity here. The city has an electric atmosphere, which really inspires me and is also the reason why I am returning to London towards the end of the year. Can you tell us a bit more about the artists at Places and Faces? Yes, there are some very talented Russian artists exhibiting alongside me, and I think that it is important to recognise the emerging talent and see how Russian artists have been influenced by their new surroundings. For more information on Irina Starkova visit irinastarkova.com and for ongoing exhibition see www. collectionred.co.uk
“The subjects reference the everydayness of mug shots or selfies and at the same time old classical portraiture... like Homer the grandfather figure wearing a Christmas cracker hat.”
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CULTURE AT CHRISTIE’S Chairman of Christie’s South Kensington, NIC MCELHATTON returns to Kensington and Chelsea Review for Christie’s regular instalment of insight into their world of auction. All images courtesy of Christie’s images LTD. 2015
‘Explore cultures, countries and the spirit of travel...’ in South Kensington
Around the World, Christie’s Kensington, 28 April 2015
There’s no need to go abroad this April as Christie’s South Kensington are introducing a new themed auction exploring cultures, countries and the spirit of travel. It’s the perfect sale for discerning travelers, explorers and collectors alike. Around the World will be held on 28 April and features unique and unusual objects, furniture, artworks, vintage luggage and mementos from Africa to the Americas, via the Antarctic. A highlight for me is a stunning group of photographs by contemporary American photographer, Steve McCurry, that show his fascination with Asia. McCurry’s photography
STEVE MCCURRY THE BLUE CITY, INDIA, 2010 Signed, affixed with photographer's edition label and numbered 20/75 on the reverse Digital C-Type, printed 2015, from an edition of 75 20 x 24 in. (51 x 61 cm.), excluding frame Estimate: £4,000 – 6,000
is intuitive; he is drawn by composition, a strong sense of colour and an interest in conveying emotion. The sale also includes a fascinating map of the world, dated 1838. It shows central Africa as unchartered territory and the extent of the discoveries in the South Seas by Cook, Palmer, Bransfield and Enderby, just prior to Sir James Ross’s 1839 expedition to charter the Antarctic coastline, which led to the subsequent discovery of the Ross Sea. I’m excited to see the pre-auction viewing when it opens on 25 April. Pre-auction viewing: 25-28 April. Estimates start at just £500 www.christies.com
STEVE MCCURRY HOLI FESTIVAL, RAJASTHAN, INDIA, 1983 Signed, affixed with photographer’s edition label and numbered 10/30 on reverse Digital C-type print, 2015, from an edition of 30 20 x 24 in. (51 x 61 cm.), excluding frame Estimate: £2,000 – 4,000
A HAND-COLOURED ENGRAVED MAP OF THE WORLD Maker & Date: ENGRAVED BY JOHN DOWER, PUBLISHED BY HENRY TEESDALE & CO., LONDON, 1838 Details: In two sections, entitled 'A New Chart of the WORLD on Mercator's Projection WITH THE TRACKS OF THE MOST CELEBRATED AND RECENT NAVIGATORS Engraved by John Dower, Pentoville, Published by Henry Teesdale & Co. May 31st 1838', including a list of recent discoveries under the title 'Arctic Expeditions', folding, laid down on linen, recently mounted and framed Size: 50.1/2 x 78.3/8 in (128 x 199 cm.), excluding frame Estimate: £7,000 – 10,000
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There’s a coach in every watch. Meet the GPS running watch with coaching features so dialled-in, it might know your abilities better than you do. Forerunner 620 gives you essential running data like distance, pace and heart rate plus a touchscreen, VO2 max estimating and a recovery advisor. And when you pair 620 with HRM-Run you have access to advanced running form coaching data like cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time. The 620 is compatible with free training plans from Garmin Connect, which you can send to your watch, for real-time coaching. To learn more, visit Garmin.com/ForerunnerCoach
©2014 Garmin Ltd. or its subsidiaries
Forerunner ® 620
THE PULLMAN TRAIN The idea of the restaurant car on a British train exists solely in the imagination, filed somewhere between Wes Anderson’ ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ and Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. That is, until now. DAVID HILLIER dines on the Pullman. The notion of a dining car is one of sepia-tinged romance: it is great British hills cascading by, soundtracked by the clink and clatter of cutlery and china. It is fresh food and fine wine served by men and women in crisp uniforms, before an ever-so-slightly-woozy step onto a platform in a new city. It is the thought that perhaps, just perhaps, you wouldn’t have minded that journey lasting a little longer. Unfortunately, our train network’s privatisation has long seen the idea of romance substituted for that of profit. Back in the days of British Rail, there were 249 restaurant cars in operation in the UK, giving travellers the opportunity to pass long journeys in the blink of a well fed eye. By the time 2011 came round they had been all taken out of service. All bumped out that is, bar one. First Great Western, alone among the 28 current train operators across Great Britain, decided that the dining car was something worth holding onto; that this small gateway to the past deserved to be kept open. It has been such a hit with customers that Pullman dining cars - named after George Pullman, designer of the Pullman sleeping car that first rode the American railways in 1867 - are now available on 12 journeys a day, between Paddington and Penzance, Plymouth, Bristol Parkway, Cardiff and Swansea. For the last two years First Great Western have been engaging the help of Mitch Tonks. Mitch is quietly making a name for himself as one of the country’s finest restauranteurs, with five sites
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across the South West. His flagship restaurant, The Seahorse in Dartmouth, has been feted by all and sundry: not least The Observer who bestowed on it the title of 2013’s Restaurant Of The Year. It is an accolade won by doing simple things very, very well. Situated on the bank of the River Dart, theirs is a daily changing menu dictated by the food coming from the water and ground around them. Specialist dishes are monkfish and dover sole cooked over open fire, and if Giles Coren’s review is anything to go by, is like “being in a really good turn of the last century bistro in Lyon or Marseille”. It seems Mitch’s localist values chime with First Great Western’s, who back in 2013 announced a 50:15 pledge. This stated that the top 50 food items served on their trains would come from producers within 15 miles of their tracks. In 2015, this has now risen to over 90 products, including Somerset fillet steak, Laverstoke Farm burrata and Cornish wine from Knightor. It is an admirable aim and one that reflects the fact that the South West, more than anywhere in the UK than perhaps parts of Scotland, is the most prolific food producing area in the country. Of course, one thing I can’t help thinking as we rattle from Paddington to Exeter St Davids in what is essentially a narrow tin can on wheels albeit one with plush leather upholstery - is that it’s surely impossible to recreate that genuine restaurant experience onboard. For one thing doffing a cap to the likes of Drehrestaurant Allan in Saas Fee here - restaurants don’t constantly move. PAGE 20
‘The meat is so delicate and velvety I have to stop myself from inhaling it at speeds not suitable for such a salubrious setting.’
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I manage to grab a quick chat with Mitch, and this is something he readily admits: “Obviously, if we were in a restaurant it would be a bit purer, we’re not hurtling down the countryside at 100 mph. But the essence is the same.” And he’s right. To an extent, their capabilities are being entirely dictated by a lack of space and time; but that doesn’t mean you can’t recreate the same passion, deliver the same ethos. It’s just a little less refined. And you know what? I eat off completely stationary plates every single day of my life. The movement is part of the Pullman’s charm - of the experience - and when a little wine is spilt on the sparkling white table cloth, it is laughed off by waitresses and diners alike. While we are mentioning staff, it must be quickly noted just how attentive they are. The two or three we encounter across the journey are knowledgeable about the produce and never flustered; even when they’re faced with leaning across the table, ladling sauce-clad monkfish onto uneven plates with dancing spoons. “You get used to it”, we hear more than once. The monkfish itself is thoughtfully cooked: a graceful, flaky wedge of sea-steak, sided
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by well-roasted new potatoes, courgettes, cauliflower and a delicious pond-green sauce that is everyone’s best friend on plate. When I enquire as to the origins of the fish, I’m informed that it came from Brixham market that morning (all produce on the service is actually loaded on fresh that day, nothing is stored overnight). The monkfish follows the dish of the day for me: a sweet, creamy plate of brown and white crab. The meat is so delicate and velvety I have to stop myself from inhaling it at speeds not suitable for such a salubrious setting. We try three different wines, all from the Knightor winery at St Austell Bay in Cornwall. The sparkling Trevannon 2013 is particularly delightful, happily jostling for space on my palette with all the waterbound flavours it seems born to compliment . This is followed up by their relatively new Mena Wweg, which isn’t specifically a dessert wine but is imbued with all sweet notes of one that is. It actually serves a perfect role as a palate cleanser between main and dessert, and at only 7.5% volume doesn’t muddle the senses in quite the fashion of a normal wine PAGE 22
With the syrupy freshness of the Mena Wweg still being lolled around our tongues, a dessert of three West Country cheeses arrives. It is only now that we check out watches, realising with a smile that a journey of nearly three hours has flown by and that we will be arriving at our destination any minute from now. We check our bill: around £70 per head for the three courses. That includes all the wine, sides, water, and seems like a fair price to pay for the perfect start to a weekend by the sea. Truly, the only regret is that we couldn’t stay for longer. The Pullman car is available to all ticket holders, though preference is given to First Class ticket holds and advance booking are only available to First Class Ticket Holders. The service is not available on weekends or public holidays. For more information, visit their website www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/Your-journey/On-board/ Pullman
RAISING A CUP TO ALEXANDER MCQUEEN To celebrate the mesmerising Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Kensington Hotel is offering a Fashion Forward Afternoon Tea this Spring/Summer. To celebrate the mesmerising Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Kensington Hotel is offering a Fashion Forward Afternoon Tea this Spring/Summer. The tea will include a collection of beautifully handcrafted cakes, pastries and sandwiches paying homage to some of McQueen’s most iconic designs. Served in the stylish surroundings of the hotel’s new Town House restaurant, makes it the perfect place to relax and reflect on the exhibition whilst dining on delicious cakes and pastries inspired by the man himself. The Afternoon Tea’s sweet treats include a moist cherry Genoese in the form of one of Alexander McQueen’s must have studded clutch bags, as well as a red velvet and rose water cake presented in the style of the Butterfly Hat by Philip Treacy as seen at McQueen’s Spring/Summer collection in 2008. A delicate hand-decorated marzipan sable dress inspired by the Horn of Plenty Autumn/ Winter 2009 collection, and a buttermilk pannacotta with raspberry. A delicious selection of sandwiches add to the tea and are complimented by a Dorset crab and artichoke cocktail, foie gras cornet with mango, and quail eggs adorned with edible gold paying homage to the Bird’s nest headdress made with Swarovski Gemstones for Alexander McQueen Autumn/Winter 2006.
In addition to the innovative and creative Alexander McQueen inspired fare, guests can indulge in raspberry and red pepper macaroons, as well as classic plain scones served with clotted cream and a selection of preserves, topped off with a blend of traditional English Breakfast tea. The Kensington Hotel is housed in a Georgian townhouse in the heart of leafy Kensington, making it feel more like a home away from home rather than a traditional hotel. All rooms and suites are individually designed and spacious with elegant fabrics and handpicked furniture to complement the hotel’s period architecture. The signature ‘Kensington Suite’ offers three bedrooms all with en-suite bathrooms, two living rooms, Waterford Chandeliers and a luxurious daybed. The hotel is the perfect boutique bolt-hole for those wanting to experience London like a local with a quintessentially Kensington feel. The hotel is just a five minute walk from the museum and can arrange tickets as part of an overnight package. The ‘Fashion Forward’ Afternoon Tea costs £35 per person. Or experience an overnight stay Fashion Forward package priced from £315 per room based on two people sharing and includes breakfast, two tickets to the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at The Victoria & Albert Museum, a ‘Fashion Forward’ afternoon tea for two, and one copy of The V&A’s book on the exhibition. Package is available until 2nd August 2015.
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A SHANGRI-LA ON EARTH STEPHEN SLOCOMBE hops from one Shangri-La to another, from Muscat to the Maldives, and finds that there really is heaven on Earth In James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon, the mythical Shangri-La is a utopia of such peace and contentment that the vagaries of age descend on its inhabitants at a slower rate than it does for outsiders. It is a grand aspiration of the Shangri-La hotel group to match Hilton’s vision. The first word in super luxury hotels, they now have nearly 90 in their vast empire. But it occurs to me, as I sit ensconced in the fluffy embrace of pillows on my villa’s king-sized bed, sipping a perfectly-mixed Caipirinha and watching the teal-blue waters of the Indian Ocean gently dappling beyond those of my private swimming pool, that maybe, just maybe, they’ve gone and nailed it. The Villingili Island Resort & Spa take up the entire Villingili Island, which is is part of the Maldives’ Aduu Atoll. This atoll has its own airport on the island of Gan, where we flew to from Male, the Maldives’ capital. From Gan it is a 10 minute speedboat ride to Villigili: is there, I ask you, a grander way to arrive a resort than with the crisp smell of salt already in your hair? From the boat to the villa, and the entire hotel is an exercise in supreme luxury with 6 kilometers of picture-postcard coastline Each villa is private and has its own butler. Most have their own infinity pools and you are provided with bikes to get around the island, should you so wish. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many visitors choose to never leave their villas, with honeymooners making up a large proportion
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of visitors to Villigili. Despite the undoubted salubriousness of the villas, it seemed a shame not to experience the many joys the hotel provides. Golfers are well served, with the resort being home to the only golf course in the Maldives. At 9 holes and par 3 or 4, it’s not going to play host to any P.G.A Championships, but with 7.5 hectares to get round and the island’s pungent flora framing the ubiquitous ocean view you’d have to be a serious golf curmudgeon to not be enchanted by every hole. Elsewhere, the food is a vital part of the offering and one which the hotel clearly takes very seriously. It has three restaurants: Dr Ali’s, Javvu and Fashalu Lounge. The jewel of these is Dr Ali’s, named after a famous Villigili doctor who for 60 years treated the ill of The Maldives with his natural remedies. This is spread across three living rooms, with each room represented by one of the oceans criss-crossing the Maldives: Indian, South China and the Arabian Gulf. In the latter you will find the tagines, salads and kebabs of the Middle East. The South China Sea room concerns itself with Cantonese and Vietnamese dishes, done Shangri - La style. The fish dishes are a requisite, pulled as they are from the sea not 50 metres away. The India living room then finds itself succulent meat from the Tandoor, and zingy, aromatic curries that the countries of the Indian Ocean are so associated with. With all this luxury, it’s fair to say I could have stayed forever, and yes, I’m not convinced I PAGE 24
‘The fish dishes are a requisite, pulled as they are from the sea not 50 metres away.’
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‘...as I sit ensconced in the fluffy embrace of pillows on my villa’s king-sized bed, sipping a perfectly-mixed Caipirinha and watching the teal-blue waters of the Indian Ocean...’ would have aged a day. But the next part of my tour was Muscat, the capital of Oman, to stay in Shangri - La’s Barr Al-Jissah Resort And Spa. So it was back in the speedboat to Gan, and a 1 hour 20 flight to Male where I had a couple of hours to experience its urban chaos. If you can bear the frenzy of this overdeveloped metropolis - and I would suggest you should try - a visit to the fish market at Jetty 1 is well worth it. It transpired that this wouldn’t be my only market visit, as the next day I found myself in the belly of the Muttrak souk in Oman, which was, if not necessarily sedate, a slightly more focused form of hurly-burly. On offer was fairly expected Eastern market fare - perfumes, pashminas, street food and scarves. Thankfully, there was much less of the hard-sell aggressiveness you can associate with Middle Eastern markets, though haggling is still expected to bring down the tourist tax! A more relaxed outlook on life certainly seems a prevailing trait for Omanians, who have
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a good relationship with their Sultan Qaboos bin Said el Said. He is focused on promoting Oman as a cultural destination, one of character and values, rather than one of pomp and extravagance, a la Dubai. Nowhere is this more true than in the Grand Mosque. Although a relatively new building, opened in 2001, it is a stunning achievement, not least for its intricate prayer mat: reportedly the second biggest hand woven carpet on the planet. The resort itself is 45 minutes out of Muscat, with a different ambience to that of Villigali. 5 stories high and built around a vast pool complex and 2 minutes from the beach, it is perhaps more a resort in the traditional sense of the word. Nevertheless, it is reliably luxurious and from the moment my feet tread the glinting marble floors of the foyer I know I am deep in the belly of Middle Eastern grandiosity. The resort is split into three: the Husn, the Bundar, and the Waha. The latter is aimed at families; the Bundar the livelier option where the majority of the restaurants, lounges and the 1,056 square metre ballroom are. The Husn is for what PAGE 26
Shangri - La call ‘the more discerning traveller.’ It has it’s own private 100m beach that residents from the Bundar and Waha cannot enter, and children under 16 are not permitted in its pool. Massage aficionados will be well served by the CHI spa (the herbal steam room is a truly harmonious attack on the senses), whilst food lovers are laughably spoilt: 11 restaurants overall are onsite, ranging from tapas to Asian to the wonderful Moroccan-themed Sharazad, and that’s before the 6 bars and lounges. Another must-do is the boat trip to Banda Khiran. One for the snorkelers amongst you, it snakes up the coast giving a different, removed, perspective on Oman. Indeed, as we drifted along under a hazy, red afternoon sky, gazing on the barren brown mountains with minarets and one of the Sultan’s palatial residences peeking over in the distance, it felt like a view people could have looked on thousands of years ago. Truly, I had found my Shangri- La. www.shangri-la.com
Too for the Bin?
Got items too big for the bin? Book a bulky waste collection The Too Big for the Bin service will remove up to ten bulky items from domestic properties in the Royal Borough. There is a charge of £27.60 and it is free to residents in receipt of housing and/or council tax benefits. The Council will not collect: • • • •
Garden waste Car parts Hazardous waste or Builders/tradesman waste.
Collection times Collections are between Monday to Saturday from 7am to 3pm. To book online visit www.rbkc.gov.uk/toobigforthebin or contact Streetline on 020 7361 3001 or email Streetline@rbkc.gov.uk
Alternatively you can contact the London Re-Use Network which collects and sells unwanted household items, giving them new homes in the capital. See more at www.londonreuse.org or call 020 3142 8506.
Love the streets you live in
THE BRILLIANT BEIRUT KCR Editor COCO KHAN visits Beirut to discover the brave new world of contemporary design in the hedonistic ‘Paris of the Middle East’.
Beirut is a complicated, complex city. Conflict is as much a part of the landscape as the Mediterranean Sea that laps at its beaches, and the towering mountains behind it. Beirut has been blighted by decades of national wars and more recently by fringe, homegrown extremists wreaking havoc in the Lebanese capital city. Although the government have worked tirelessly to secure and redevelop the city into a luxury cosmopolitan haven (and for the most part have been successful), look close enough and the subtle reminders are there – the bulletholes in the walls; the occasional bit of barbed wire cordoning off a road to a yet-to-be-redeveloped bombed out building. It is this subtle, barely perceivable tension that makes Beirut the hedonistic and creative metropolis it is. It makes sense - if something terrible is only one moment away, then why not make this moment the best it can possibly be? Beirut is seizing the day, and now’s the time to see it. STAY We’re staying at two hotels in Beirut: Le Vendome, and the Phoenicia. Though these sister hotels are run by the same company, they couldn’t be more different. Phoenicia is a grand, historical behemoth right in the heart of the city and with its magnificent ballroom and red-carpet lined grand staircase feels a little bit like Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel (Grand Beirut
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Hotel?) in its interiors. Le Vendome on the other hand, is a luxury boutique number with views out to sea. What’s interesting is that guests are able to combine these two hotels’ services in bespoke combinations – having your cake and eating it so to speak. Normally, if you want an intimate and boutique hotel experience you have to sacrifice certain things – a swimming pool, a functioning business centre – but here, you can just use the Phoenicia’s services when you need them. Indeed, you could spend several days eating in the various restaurants of the two hotels and never feel bored. There are eight distinct eating areas in the Phoenicia and two in Le Vendome (see the food and drink section for details). Together you can eat casually, upscale, enjoy cocktails with light nibbles, and have a childfriendly restaurant experience. A little background on the Phoenicia – it opened in 1961 which by Beirut standards makes it a heritage hotel. It’s actually made up of three towers, each with its own entrance. There’s the Roman tower, which has a poolside and city view; the Phoenician tower, which has bay and poolside views; and the Residential Tower which is for longer stays of several months so is essentially private residence. I’m staying in the Phoenician tower, and my room has been designed by Martin Hulbert who you might know from The Dorchester. The rooms look contemporary while respectful of the French-influenced sixties Beirut style, and of course are impeccably luxurious by PAGE 28
anyone’s standards. Art and design is clearly a central part of the Phoenicia experience because it even has its own art shop. Viewing fine art in a hotel space was a first for Lebanon, and on display is a good mix of Lebanese and international artists. In fact, as of September last year, it started to feature in-room video art. Of course, if you don’t want to buy art you can always buy high-end fashion, jewels, home deco and exceptionally rare cognacs. I did say it was grand… THINK Beirut is having a boom period in terms of its design industry and it shows no signs of slowing. Take a stroll around the showroom of PSLab – a context-specific design and manufactory company specialising in light architecture – and you’ll find some of the best in commercial light sculpture in the world. This is the point: Beirut’s design scene isn’t just the best it’s best in context of Lebanon and its neighbours, but is a contender to the entire world. It’ll come as no surprise to hear PSLab, though headquartered in Beirut, has offices in Germany, Italy, Singapore and Finland and recently completed some work with the Barbican. Perhaps this is why, Beirut Design Week attracts both press and design fans year after year (incidentally, it’s held in June which is a perfect time to visit). Nada Debs, a Beirut-based furniture designer combines the ornateness of Arabic
design with the simplicity of Japanese design to create conceptual furniture that is proving a hit across the world. Her shop is very much worth a visit. For something different altogether, Beirut has a burgeoning street art scene, so take a wander through Gemmayze (the Bohemian quarter) to see stencils, tags and humour scrawled across the walls. EAT AND DRINK Most neighbourhoods in Beirut have a furn – a communal bread oven from which locals can grab a mana’eesh, a flat bread with toppings a bit like a pizza, or more closely a Turkish pide. You can pick these up for mere pennies, freshly cooked to home-made recipes with liberal use of Za’atar. Street food is plentiful here, so keep an eye out for shawarma-like wraps from carts or inexpensive lounges, and grilled vegetable kebabs. Lebanon also has very good climate for growing grapes and in recent years has begun to cultivate vineyards and produce wine. We visited IXSIR (Lebanese for ‘elixir’), a wonderful winery located just a few hours from Beirut. IXSIR has even begun to win awards on an international level, a bottle of which you can pick up for less than a tenner. For an upmarket eating experience we didn’t need to leave our hotel. Eau de Vie in the Phoenicia is a decadent, extravagant venue serving wagyu beef, lobster, fine ports and dinner
cigars with a bay view that could only be rivalled by Sydney’s – the restaurant in Le Vendome with views over the Corniche. The Phoenicia’s recently opened Amethyste is the embodiment of Beirut’s uniquely laidback luxury - a cocktail bar by the pool, kitted out in beach lounge furniture (there’s even a swaying bed sized hammock), guests can enjoy an evening cocktail and dishes until midnight. For the group who can’t decide what they want, Mosaic in the Phoenicia has live cooking stations from around the world so you can globetrot via your tastebuds, but if Italian or Japanese is what you’re after then there’s Caffe Mondo and Wok W.o.k respectively too. NIGHTLIFE Beirut is the party capital of North Africa and the Emirates, and can easily rival a number of European party capitals (Belgrade etc) in terms of who it attracts from the international clubbing scene. Party by the beach, or one of Beirut’s many sky bars (we had a blast at White), catch some live music at 01NE or for something a bit hipper, with a generous dollop of techno, there’s always a good time to be had at B018. For those of you into euphoria, it has a roof that opens up when the sun comes out. www.phoeniciabeirut.com
‘It is this subtle, barely perceivable tension that makes Beirut the hedonistic and creative metropolis it is...’ KENSINGTON & CHELSEA REVIEW
THE SPIRIT OF THE FLORIDA KEYS RASHID MEER discovers a different Florida down by the Keys When most people first think about Florida as a holiday destination, they probably think of theme parks in Orlando or perhaps the Art Deco beaches of Miami. But further down Route One is a whole other side to this state. The Keys are actually a chain of islands that arc down into the Caribbean and share the hot and steamy climate of other islands in this ocean. With the southern most of the Keys, Key West, only ninety miles from Cuba, it’s not just the weather that has a Caribbean flavour. Our first stop was Islamorada where a hotel complex right on the beach allowed us to get our feet wet in warm seas for the first time. Islamorada has a feel of a film, with architecture from another time and slow pace of life. After a typically huge American breakfast our first excursion was suitably cinematic. We went for a trip on the African Queen, the eponymous heroine of the Bogart film; which seemed fitting in the setting for another Bogart classic, Key Largo, which incidentally also hosts an annual Humphrey Bogart film festival. This boat trip offered a chance to see some of the back waters and canals of the Keys as well as seeing what must be some of the world’s best placed real estate. And while we were moving at a great deal slower than the powerboats docked at each private jetty could manage, it was nice to travel our own gentle pace in what is now a national historic site. At lunch we were treated to a cooking exhibition by chef Bobby Stoky at Mile Marker 88 in Islamorada. We were shown some delicious recipes and enjoyed a hearty lunch of the freshest local fish and crab cakes. My companions waxed
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lyrical about the watermelon mojitos that Bobby produced and wished were consumed on the beach. This was followed by the first (but definitely not the last) key lime pie of the trip. The next day we departed for Marathon Key further down Route 1 for a visit to the Dolphin Research Centre and an encounter with the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. The centre is also one of the only ones where people are allowed to help in the rescue of protected marine mammals, such as the manatee in Florida. These playful and surprisingly noisy dolphins live in big family groups and are mostly rescued and rehabilitated dolphins. Next was a cycle to Pigeon Key, a historic work camp for the construction of the Overseas railroad in 1938 and now a museum, although some residents live on Pigeon Key year round. The ride allowed us a look at the marine life outside the park, from big tarpon fish cruising beneath the bridge to an osprey enjoying its meal on the route of the journey. The next day we moved to the Tranquility Bay Hotel in Marathon Key. This is a gorgeous hotel with its own beach and all the facilities you would expect. Marathon Key has a relaxed attitude like the rest of the keys but less tourism than say Key West. And with the island itself small enough to walk across in half an hour it is famous for both sailing and fishing. Dinner that night was at The Castaway Waterfront. Originally a shrimp and beer kind of place the menu has been expanded to include sushi, seafood and steaks. At the Waterfront I sat out an afternoon rainstorm PAGE 30
that flooded the road and was glad to come back for dinner. I can recommend the hogfish sushi. I also recommend not parking your car outside the restaurant but using their golf buggy shuttle to travel the 10 metres to the second car park. Totally unnecessary but fun never the less. The next day we went eco-kayaking with Bill Keogh and after a short time to acclimatise we took off on the open water. Bill almost instantly spotted a small nurse shark and we all started paying more attention to the wild life as we glided past. Here unfortunately we were reminded where we were after a swarm of mosquitoes descended on our group as we tried to explore a hidden creek. An expert on the wildlife of the keys Bill talked enthusiastically, and was an excellent guide. Finally we left for the last stop on route one, Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States. After a photo-call at the signpost that points the way to Cuba (you will have to queue with lots of Cuban Americans also wanting to get a snap), I explored this fascinating town. It has a definite island flavour with clap board houses and a lively bar scene that has made it a popular LGBT destination. Not so much the “Key Weird” that we had been warned of, but certainly popular. Key West has literary connections too, with Ernest Hemingway being amongst the famous who had house here, now a museum. The Cuban influence was once again evident when we had dinner at 915, a Cuban
restaurant serving delicious food right in the heart of Key West. We were hosted by Carol Shaunessy and could hear the nightly street party outside, before joining in to watch the performers. After dinner it was time for a fright and with Key West being such an old settlement there are no shortage of ghosts or ghost tours. In fact the name of the Keys comes from the Spanish for island, Cayo, and Key West was originally the island of bones, named for the Amerindian burial grounds the Spanish found on the Island. David Sloan runs Key West’s only walking ghost tour (the others use trolley buses) and has negotiated access to some historic buildings including the Masons Lodge and an old theatre. But first we were kitted out with ghost hunting equipment, from dowsing rods to remote thermometers to check if any spooky changes in temperature were happening around us. David’s highly enthusiastic and entertaining style will make it enjoyable if, like me, you’re more sceptical than David himself and he is the author of several quirky books on the ghosts and legends of the area. After an evening spent dealing with the spirit world we all slept soundly. Breakfast the next morning was had at Blue Heaven, which wouldn’t look out of place in a Thai beach resort, and where every order was met with a resounding “you got it...”. It also is in a building with a colourful history, having been used for cockfighting, boxing and having featured in the writing of Hemingway. Today I would have to face my nemesis again in the form of the “Key Lime Pie”, although this time there was
some context and a demonstration from Kermit Carpenter, lover of all things key lime. Like a lot of the characters you meet in the keys, Kermit started life elsewhere in the States only to end up in the Keys and staying. He proceeded to show us how to make the surprisingly easy recipe and explained the history and distinctions of the key lime. Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe also sells other treats with the fruit at the centre of the taste, as well as cook books and chocolate. The evening was again devoted to spirits, although this time of the 100 proof kind, with a visit to Florida’s first legal rum distillery. We were given a tour of the distillery by local chef and founder Paul Menta before we got down to some serious tasting. The rums distilled here are of exceptional quality and we all enjoyed sampling the different bottles as well as being photographed like a prohibition era rum runner. Dinner was another treat with a boat ride to the incredible Latitudes restaurant on Sunset key. The boat ride to and from this top-end dining experience really added to the feeling of capping off the trip in style. It would be an ideal destination for those on a honeymoon, and the cooking of Todd Holender was only overshadowed by the setting for dinner, on the beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. However the Wagyu beef snapped my attention right back to my plate. And with that my short excursion to the other side of Florida was almost over. Only a traffic jam on the way back to Miami airport held us up, the disadvantage of only having one road in and out of the Keys. PAGE 31
Rashid stayed at: Key Largo and Islamorada Islander Resort, a guy Harvey Outpost, 81200 Overseas Highway, Key Largo Florida 33036 Marathon Key Tranquility Bay Beach Resort, 2600 Overseas Highway, Marathon Florida 33050 Key West Parrot Key Resort, 2801 Roosevelt Boulevard, Key West, Florida, 33040 Cycles provided by Overseas Outfitters, 1700 Overseas Highway MM48, Marathon, Florida, 33050 Kayaks provided by Big Pine Kayak Adventures, 1791 Bogie drive MM302, Big Pine Key, Florida, 33043 Sloan's Ghost tours www.keywestghosthunt.com Legal Rum Distillery 105 Simonton Street, Key West, Florida, 33040 www.keywestlegalrum.com Latitudes Restaurant reached by boat from 245 Front Street, Key west, Florida, 33040 Kermit's Key West Lime Shoppe 200 Elisabeth Street, Key West Florida FL 33040
ICELAND STEPHEN SLOCOMBE visits the little known Akureyri via Reykjavik “There’s no place like…” may be the most overused refrain by travel agents and tourist boards alike, and has been deployed to describe every destination from Penzance to Palm Springs. In the case of Iceland, however, it is a sentiment richly deserved. Situated some 500 miles from the NorthWest tip of Scotland, Iceland lies at the juncture of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, with a privileged position just south of the Arctic Circle. As such it has an identity entirely of its own that pulls on European and Nordic traits but is defiantly, proudly, Icelandic. Mine was a trip starting in Reykjavik, with the technicolor carrot of the Northern Lights burning somewhere in the sky above Iceland’s second city, Akureyri at the end. This framed my trip perfectly, and my stay at the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina was a salubrious start - with its cool, contemporary design, it was the epitome of slick Nordic style. With a location on the docks, all deluxe rooms have views over the North Atlantic and Esja Mountains to compliment their exquisitely tiled bathrooms. The Slippbarinn bar downstairs is a hotbed of activity in the evenings, with its cocktail list and occasional ‘pop-up’ events giving
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it the well-heeled hum of the regional arts centre. The food in Slippbarrin is decent bistro fare, with small Icelandic twists throughout. Being in such proximity to the ocean, obviously the seafood is a must-try. Presuming you are dining with another (or at least prodigiously hungry) then the Marina Fish Soup and Seafood Platter are highly recommended. Reykjavik itself has a population of approximately 120,000, giving it a smidgen more than Exe-ter. This of course means it’s not going to take you too long to get round its attractions, and while the likes of the Maritime Museum and the Church of Hallgrímskirkja - the latter being a must visit with its panoramic city views - were good warm-ups, I was captivated by the thought of the events to come the next day: The Golden Circle & Fontana Steam Bath Tour. This nine hour tour takes in the Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir geothermal region and the Thingvellir Na-tional Park, before finishing off at the Fontana steam baths. You could of course hire a car and do these by yourself, but with a lot of ground to cover and a vast expanse all around you, having someone else pushing the pedals really elevates the experience. Of course, it is not as if the scenery needs PAGE 32
anything to heighten its impact. It’s hard to emphasise just how striking the landscape is. I went in winter, which meant out of the city a stark palette of white snow and black rock was painted before me. Obviously in summer this would be lush and green, but the unembellished nature of it made me glad I came when I did, despite the cold (and it was cold! Reykjavik is actually at the southern end of Iceland, thus warmer than the rest of the island. Despite this, average temperatures for the winter months are roughly 0 C, which obviously means you must be prepared for much colder). After a fantastic tour that took in the furiously undulating Gullfoss waterfall, we finished up at the Fontana Wellness Spa for a well-earned bathe. It is common knowledge that Icelanders like to bathe far more than us folk, and with natural, geothermal-heated pools that they have in such abundance, frankly, why wouldn’t they? The Fontana Spa is a modern complex built on a huge natural spring. It is composed of naturally heated saunas and hot tubs of different temperatures, and though there is certainly an initial shock in stripping down to swimmers in minus temperatures, once you are submerged the contrast between the heat around your body
and the cold on your face is truly invigorating. This relaxing put me in good stead, as to come was my trip to see the world famous Aurora Borealis. Now, you could just stay around Reykjavik and hope to catch them them there. However, these are not lights in the conventional sense that you can simply turn on and off. So if you are determined to find them, you must give yourself the best chance and take the short domestic flight to Iceland’s second larg-est urban area, Akureyri. Akureyri is in the north west of the island, and a small town of around 18,000 inhabitants. With its clos-er proximity to the Arctic Circle and virtually non-existent light pollution it was the perfect place for those hunting the Northern Lights. We were staying at the Icelandair Hotel Akureyri - part of the same group as the Hotel Reykjavík Marina - and as such the decor is similar, though it is certainly a bit more sedate than its sister hotel. One thing you must be prepared for when looking for the Lights is late nights. We set out around mid-night, and were far from the only people hunting. The snow-decked countryside outside Akureyri was pockmarked with coaches of people searching for the elusive Aurora, and the
tour guides were all con-nected through walkie talkies, chasing down rumours of sightings. On our first night the Lights were unilluminated, and we retired to bed in the small hours a little disap-pointed (but certainly not disheartened). The next night, however, this was all forgotten when, sitting in the geothermal pool, shimmering waves of green and blue and a little pink were airbrushed across the sky, as all was silent barring the occasional shutter of a camera. We’ve all seen pictures of the Northern Lights, but until you are near the top of the world and iridescent nameless colours are washing across the sky, it’s hard to imagine what they’re really like. Well let me tell you, my friend: you’ll feel just a little bit closer to Heaven. Icelandair hotels start at £74 a night, and can be booked on their website -http://www.icelandairhotels.com The Fontana Circle And Steam Bath Tour costs around £62 and is bookable here -https://www.re.is Saga Travel offer a range of tours for the Northern Lights, which can be found on their website http://www.sagatravel.is
‘...until you are near the top of the world and iridescent colours are washing across the sky, it’s harder to imagine what they’re really like.’ KENSINGTON & CHELSEA REVIEW
YOUR OWN PRIVATE RIAD IN A FANTASY MEDINA SID RAGHAVA visits Royal Mansour in Marrakech and finds new possibilities in luxury.
Any mention of Marrakech and indeed Morocco, conjures up vivid images of exotica long associated with North Africa. Some of those images might consist of snake charmers operating their craft in a large square packed with spectators and backgrounded by ambling passers-by. In this imagining there are busy food stalls and traditional souks selling resplendent carpets and ornate pottery. Or there are fountains, palaces, mosques and narrow, winding roads all contained within the fabled confines of a labyrinthine medieval medina complete with a crescent moon dotting a minaret in the dark sky. The Royal Mansour in Marrakech will bring all of your Moorish fantasies to life but with the added bonus of being pampered in the most luxurious of royal environs like something straight out of an Arabian Nights fantasy. The regal credentials are backed by the fact that Morocco’s current ruler Mohammed VI owns the hotel and that it also has the rare distinction of informally boasting a 7 star tag. So what is so special about Royal Mansour? To start with, Jamaa Al-Fnaa the most famous of Moroccan landmarks is a 5-10 minute walk from the hotel premises. Considering the fact that this most famous of squares is the bustling epicentre of all touristic and economic activity, you might expect a lot of frenetic activity around Royal Mansour. Not so. The hotel is located on a very quiet side street which can easily go unnoticed by most people. This is a luxury in itself – to be based in the most peaceful and salubrious of surroundings yet very close to the heart of Marrakech. And if you’d rather not go to the actual medina, you’ve got your own within the hotel perimeter because it is shaped and built like one.
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There are 53 riads in this magical realm, each meticulously planned to originally house royal guests of the reigning King himself. There are choices for bigger and more opulent ones but basically all riads are 3 storeyed with a roof terrace on top. The rooftops come with a plunge pool or mini-pool, plenty of sunbeds and overlook Khoutubia mosque and the surrounding park. Your ‘minaret in the horizon against the crescent moon’ moment might very well happen up here. All riads open into a mini courtyard complete with a traditional fountain that will calm the most restless of nerves with its rhythmic gurgle. The most luscious of fabrics adorn the comfiest of diwans and sofas, and ornamented side tables bear exotic fruits for the temporary master of the house. There is a fireplace to blow, glow and smolder all day during winters and the beds are commodious and silky enough to guarantee you a good night’s sleep. Bathrooms come equipped with all the shower and bath accessories and add-ons you’d expect from a hotel of this stature and toiletries and cosmetics from the likes of MarocMaroc and Dr. Hauschka complete the spain-the-home experience. Should you wish to step out of your tranquil personal paradise into the surrounding medina, several other temptations beckon. Spa Go through a long hallway margined by flowing water on either side till you jump into your own bird cage complete with Royal White wrought-iron designs that seem to stretch into the heavens. In this dreamlike space, you’ll coo your tensions and worries away. There are two hammams, a salon, private treatment rooms as well as a second floor PAGE 34
offering private rooms for couples. It also houses the most beautiful and inviting of all indoor pools. Dining La Grand Table Marocaine and La Grande Table Francaise, the distinguished restaurants within the ‘Royal Medina’ are run under the supreme guidance of the Michelin starred chef Yannick Alleno. Both are proud exponents of two of the most popular and admired cuisines in the world. The waiters in the Moroccan restaurant will make sure you get frothiest of mint teas all juggled up in front of your very eyes whilst you feast on moreish tagines and fluffy cous cous. Alternatively, a lot of guests prefer to have their meals in their riads itself. Tip: Do try the traditional Moroccan breakfast in the morning. And all of the rest.... You can warm your cockles in the faint mist of the Chimney Lounge or wind down for the evening at the Cigar Lounge. Perhaps have herbal tea at Loggia or read about Arabic calligraphy in the Library? There’s also a Kid’s Room and an outdoor pool to keep the family busy and lastly, several field trips and events to accentuate the royal experience. Luxury, hedonism, exoticism and holistic fulfilment all converge at the confluence that is the Royal Mansour. It is a magical experience that few other hotels can aspire to, let alone match. EasyJet flies to Marrakech from Bristol, Glasgow, Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester airports with prices starting from £20.99 per person (one-way, including taxes and based on two people on the same booking). All flights can be booked at www.easyjet.com www.royalmansour.com
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SUMMER SUN STEPHEN SLOCOMBE unwinds in the secluded luxury of Thessaloniki Thessaloniki has long inhabited a unique place within the Greek holiday spectrum. Without the history of Athens or tourist set-up of the islands, it’s garnered an identity as the last stop on the Euro backpacker trail. This is also helped by the city’s university - the biggest in Greece - and was solidified by its coronation as 2014’s Youth Capital City. Elsewhere in Greece, a traditional relaxation holiday would have probably consisted of an island trip: Mykonos, Santorini or the low key utopia of Cyclades. However, with many of the islands now mired in sprawling resorts and Coke umbrellas, Thessaloniki is becoming the place for those that want to stay out of the tourist trap and immersed in luxury. The Eagles Palace hotel is situated on the Halkidiki peninsula, ten minutes from the nearest local town of Ouranopolis (the hotel offer a free service to and from there). The latest in a long line of luxury hotels run in Thessaloniki by the Tornivoukas family, it is an establishment that lives and dies by the harmony it inspires. Thankfully, from the moment I emerged from my two-and-a-bit hour transfer from Thessaloniki, the managers and staff knew exactly how to keep things tranquil. Set in amongst verdant grounds, and with plenty of hidden coves and gardens bursting with iris’s and apple blossoms, the immediate impression is that of a lush Greece in microcosm. You are free to explore and relax in these pockets
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at your leisure, and can expect to be left alone with a book, your thoughts or a cocktail. As you would hope for with such a class of resort, the service and hospitality from staff is impeccable throughout. However, it is a world away from the in-your-face style that can grate after four days of relentless platitudes. Instead the style at Eagles Palace is not dissimilar to that what you would hope to find in a Greek home. It is attentive without being intrusive. Presumably this is a bequeathal from the hotel’s ancestry, and indeed you can expect to encounter Konstantinos and Lena Tornivoukas onsite, quietly ensuring that you have everything you require. By day, the activities are plentiful without being overwhelming. Its spa - run in collaboration with British company Elemis and Greek natural products company Apivita - was recently bestowed with the title of the world’s best day spa, and it is not hard to see why. The word ‘haven’ is bandied around far too readily, but in this case it’s possibly underselling the scaling levels of luxury you can encounter. A vast swathe of treatments are on offer, from facials to wraps, massages and - should you be so inclined - colon therapy. I gave the latter a miss, but can confirm that the Frangipani wrap left me dreamily sniffing my skin for days afterwards. Elsewhere, should you be the sort of holidayer that experiences pleasure guilt, there are sports options available in the form of a gym, PAGE 36
tennis court and beach volleyball. For those more interested in a submerged form of activity, there is a PADI qualified water sports and scuba diving centre. Suffice to say, the warm azure waters of the Aegean Sea are an endless pillbox of nonmammalian delight. An absolute must-do activity is the boat trip to Mount Athos, which takes off from Ouranopolis. Mount Athos, or Holy Mountain, is a self-governing state with over 2,000 monks from a variety of denominations, which dates back to Ancient Greece (Homer even mentions it in the Iliad) . A visa has to be arranged in advance to visit, and it is possible to stay overnight in a monastery should the endless luxury of the Eagles Palace all get a bit much. Unfortunately, since 1046 women have not been allowed onto the island, though they certainly don’t mind male figures of power dropping by: Prince Charles and Putin have looked in over recent years. Back at the hotel, for those tired of islandhopping there are more than enough options to keep the hungry holiday maker satisfied. There are four restaurants onsite which cover all the culinary bases, with Kamares offering a gourmet take on Greek cuisine as well as a glorious al fresco dining setting over looking the beach. The quality is high, around the Michelin star mark though probably a bit more relaxed. Armrya is a based on a more traditional Greek menu, which of course means plenty of
grilled fish and lamb. Added to this is the fairlynew Washi, with its take on Pan-Asian cuisine that includes plenty of sushi. Bearing in mind the fish for this sushi comes from the water not more than 50 metres away, you can be sure it is some of the very best this side of Tokyo. If you’re hungry but don’t fancy eating at table, the hotel offers a rather sweet all-day dining option, wherein you can find your favourite spot or view amongst the multitudes on offer across the resort, and order your breakfast, lunch or dinner to wherever you may be. In a way, that final service some up the Eagles Palace as a whole. Beyond the activities the hotel offers, there isn’t loads to do to in the immediate locale. But that is part of its appeal, and the Tornivoukas family want you to truly switch off and be treated like a treasured house guest. It is luxury without the fussiness and if you want to eat dinner somewhere else, by yourself and away from the rabble that’s just fine with them. Go on, they won’t be offended… Bookings can be made at Reservations: +30 23770 31070 / Email: email@example.com / www.eaglespalace.gr Starting price is 328 EURO for a standard room in August. The nearest airport is Thessaloniki airport with flights starting from £250
‘Thessaloniki is becoming the place for those that want to stay out of the tourist trap and immersed in luxury.’ KENSINGTON & CHELSEA REVIEW
LOVE IS IN THE AIR Looking for some inspiration for a stunning location to pop the question? MARK SOUTHERN rounds up some of the UK’s most romantic spots for getting that knee muddy. Just don’t blame us if you hear the word “no”. Ynyshir Hall, South Wales Nestled in the Cambrian Mountains, amid a sparse fairytale landscape, chef Gareth Ward has created a stunning menu worth building the romance before the big moment, in a contemporary hotel that both embraces and defies its surroundings. Recently awarded his first Michelin Star, Ward’s eleven course tasting menu combines delicate locally-sourced flavours with bold choices, amid a highly innovative presentation, that brings theatrical flair to his strong-willed culinary creations, and creates a perfect setting to spring a ring out of your pocket. Whilst the food delivers a sensational experience, the beautifully appointed hotel provides a classically luxurious backdrop. Blending modern sharp lines with authentic local materials, the relaxing setting is perfect for a weekend away, with the homely service both personal and charming. www.ynyshirhall.com
Hartwell House, Bucks Tucked away in the majestic surroundings of the 1,800 acre Hartwell estate, this Buckinghamshire retreat is perfect for romantic getaways and proposal weekends.
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The country house hotel as a fascinating history, and this scent of bygone days is embedded deep in the essence of the hotel, alongside a delightful blend of high-end modern luxury, with guests are caught up in a heady mix of mahogany-infused comfort. The traditional ambience is accentuated with a range of dining options, with the quaint afternoon tea in front of the log fire a must for surprising your significant other with the big question, with the splendour of the spectacular views framing the backdrop. www.hartwell-house.com
Headland Hotel, Cornwall The electrifying stimulation of waves crashing into the North Cornish coastline is a staple of romantic fiction, and a clifftop proposal at the stunning Headland Hotel, with the glorious Fistral Beach beneath offers a breath-taking moment for your beau. Set on the tip of the peninsula, with the Atlantic Ocean enveloping three sides of the hotel, the old-school glamour delight and relax, with a quite unique ambience of laidback Cornish welcome blended with nicely formal courtesy. The food is outstanding, and sourced locally, PAGE 38
and to glide your partner down the sweeping central staircase, and out into the windswept beachside will dramatically increase your chances of an affirmative response.
South Lodge Hotel, Sussex There’s something about British country houses that bring out the love in even the coldest hearted cynic, but there is something extra special about South Lodge, which creates a perfect setting to give a proposal of a lifetime. Set in the rolling West Sussex hills, and with acres of beautiful countryside to stroll in, the contemporary decor and exquisite food takes the wonderful classic architecture to new heights, and offers a slice of true romance for couples. Rooms are beautifully appointed, with sharp lines, and elegant bathrooms, but its the mysterious and soulful rope swing pods that should be the location for the special moment, with nothing but lakes and greenery around you to witness the moment you close your eyes and hope to hear “yes”. www.southlodgehotel.co.uk
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VIBRANT FIBRES Cashmere is up there with a little black dress and a navy suit in its fashion-proof essential wardrobe status. But how can you spot quality cashmere amongst the pretenders. MARK SOUTHERN discovered how to stop pulling the wool over your own eyes. There are some choices in life that are socially acceptable to choose a thrifty option; Flights under two hours and HDMI cables, for example. However, conversely, there are some purchases that polite society would never deem acceptable, and top of that particular list is knitwear, where only one option is agreeable if you value your social standing. For decades, a cashmere-less wardrobe has been both an unforgivable fashion faux-pas, and a guarantee that you’ll pull a misshapen ex-jumper out of the washing machine after a couple of weards. However, what if we told you that, like a wooly form of communism, not all cashmere is made equal? Whilst Marx and Engels didn’t have sweaters on their minds when creating their manifesto, it is however true that in the world of fine fibres there are big quality differences between the kind of cashmere you want in your wardrobe, and the kind you most definitely don’t. To find out more, we caught up with the founder and eponymous creative spirit behind high-end cashmere brand, Susie Pringle. We meet Susie in a Chelsea hotel suite after a VIP fitting, which is in the process of over-running by our arrival. A charming PA makes us tea in the anteroom as we wait, whilst two rather robust looking security details stand motionless at the door to the fitting room, occasionally talking into their lapels. After five minutes of inactivity, the door swishes open, and out glides the most contemporary of royals, sweeping serenely through the room, with a sharp suited assistant clutching three bags of cashmere.
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Moments later the brand’s founder steps through to greet us, with a natural smile and warm welcome. Pringle is an engaging presence, and full of life, and guides us through to the fitting room, with her new collection laid out. After some back and forth about the tea, it becomes clear that Susie’s passion for all things cashmere is real, as she holds court about why it’s so important for consumers to receive the very best quality of wool. “What makes good cashmere”, begins the entrepreneur, “is the fibre that comes from the finest under-hair beneath the thick exterior coat of the cashmere goat, living in the frigid plateaus of Inner Mongolia. This is to be distinguished from fibre from Outer Mongolia or Iran, which is second and third grade, respectively. All my cashmere is made from first grade fibre, sourced exclusively from Inner Mongolia. “This is not the whole story, however, and there follows a very important step, with all production created in Scotland. The heritage of Scottish cashmere is akin to Scotch whisky, in so far as its natural characteristics and talent in the industry give it world-class ability. For example, the abilities of Scottish spinners and dyers are unsurpassed, and it is the unique soft Scottish water that produces the vibrant colours and allows process washing without the need for detergent.” When viewing the latest collection it becomes clear what she means by fibre quality, with many household premium brands feeling cheap and itchy
“... in the world of fine fibres there are big quality differences between the kind of cashmere you want in your wardrobe, and the kind you most definitely don’t.” in comparison, often due to blending fibres for cost-efficiency purposes. But, how did the brand founder come to be the Queen of cashmere? “Some 25 years ago, before the huge influx of foreign cashmere imports, whilst spending time in the country at my bolt hole from London I identified a significant gap in the market as I was constantly asked what to wear for smart/casual suppers in the country. “Cashmere had long been a staple for women between the ages of 30 and 85, so I started to design a range of knitwear, made from the very best quality fibre and structure, and which was only to be made exclusively in Scotland, and not just ‘finished’ there, as so many brands use this to claim Scottish provenance. “I proceeded originally to sell my designs from the Harbour Club in London, and acquired a substantial following both in London and the country, including Diana Princess of Wales. This propelled the company to where it is today.” As for spotting bad cashmere, what does the Susie suggest? “There are several obvious signals, but often not quite apparent until you try to wash it, or after it has been worn a few times. Sometimes just holding it up to the light will give the clue, as in many instances you will be able to see through cheap cashmere. Likewise, if you stretch bad cashmere and it does not ping back in to shape then you have your answer as poor tension is a giveaway, as is excessive fluffiness which indicates weak fibres. “On a general note, more expensive but good cashmere may be
harder to handle in the shop and not appear so soft, but bear in mind that the best cashmere improves with age, and it will ease up with wear and careful washing.” Before we go, we ask Pringle, as a successful businesswoman, about the future the UK fashion industry. Does she believe overseas price differentiation will make life unsustainable for quality British brands? “I think that the UK fashion industry has a great future, despite the competition of foreign imports, including great volumes of cashmere from places like China. There are still huge quality control issues with a great many of these competitors, and while there is always demand at the cheap throwaway end of the market we see an enhanced understanding of quality and durability with customers who are becoming more discerning all the time. Correspondingly, while pricing is important, our customers understand that Scottish cashmere is the best, and will serve them well for many years and make them feel special. “Broadly, I think that fashion industry production is now filtering back to the UK, and we see good future growth in the discerning body of purchaser demographics, reflected in our own wide ranging customer base.” Susie Pringle is the founder of Susie Pringle Cashmere. Find out more at www.susiepringle.com
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Gavin Scott, Partner
STOWE FAMILY LAW There are a number of different approaches that can be taken in relation to dividing the finances upon separation and divorce. Each case is different and not all options will be appropriate in all cases. Expert GAVIN SCOTT, Partner at Stowe Family Law, tells us how to reach financial agreement when you split up or divorce. Since 22 April 2014, it is a requirement that a separating couple attends a MIAM (Mediation Information Assessment Meeting) with a mediator before issuing proceedings at court, to determine whether the case is suitable for mediation. The government hopes that compulsory MIAMs will prove to be an effective cost cutting measure for the court system. It is important to understand, while in most cases attending MIAM is compulsory, the mediation itself is not. Negotiations between the parties directly – if the parties are able to reach an agreement between themselves, a Consent Order can be prepared and filed at Court, recording the agreement and the court would be asked to approve the order. This is to prevent either party attempting to go back on the terms of the order at some point in the future. It is very difficult to challenge the terms of an approved order in the future, unless there are exceptional circumstances. This option is only possible if both parties have a clear picture of the matrimonial finances and it is advisable in every case to have a full and frank exchange of financial disclosure before entering in to any agreement. Negotiations between solicitors – parties exchange disclosure on a voluntary basis, i.e. without the Court ordering it, with a view to
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negotiating an early settlement, outside of the court arena. This option is suitable when both parties are open to reaching a fair settlement and are prepared to make reasonable concessions. If one party is unwilling to negotiate or provide financial disclosure, this is usually apparent from an early stage and financial remedy proceedings can be issued. Litigation – the financial remedy procedure is a three stage Court process: First Appointment - This is a short attendance required at Court to decide how the case should proceed and on what timetable. Directions are given about the valuations of assets, where necessary, and when questionnaires should be answered and any further directions required to help further the proceedings before the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing. Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) - This is held at Court on a without prejudice basis, to try negotiate settlement. The Judge listens to both parties’ point of view as to how the case should be settled and will then give his/her own view on how a settlement should be reached before encouraging the parties to settle. The majority of cases settle at this point. PAGE 42
Final Hearing - If the parties cannot reach an agreement at the FDR or thereafter, the case proceeds to a Final Hearing. Both parties will be cross examined and the Judge will then decide what order they think is appropriate and the parties will have that order imposed upon them. Very few cases reach this stage of the proceedings. It is very important, at every stage of dealing with a divorce that consideration is given to seeing whether the finances can be settled by agreement without incurring significant legal fees. Early advice is essential.
Gavin Scott is a Partner (and mediator) at Stowe Family Law, 8 Fulwood Place, Gray’s Inn, London WC1V 6HG. If you have questions regarding Divorce, or any aspect of Family Law, please email gavin.scott@ stowefamilylaw.co.uk. All enquiries will be treated as strictly private and confidential. Further information and articles on various aspects of Family Law and the Firm can also be found on our Blog at www.marilynstowe.co.uk. We hold a free legal advice clinic (30 minute appointments) on a daily basis between 12pm and 2pm and on a Monday evening between 5pm and 7pm. Please call to make an appointment on 020 7421 3300.
LONDON PARENTS: WHY THE HYSTERIA? As competition for places at independent London secondary schools places unbearable pressure on prep school children and their parents, Mayfield Head, ANTONIA BEARY, says: Don’t panic! There is another way, and it doesn’t mean compromising your children’s education. It is easy to see how parents get caught in the frantic race for places at the top London schools, which do indeed offer an outstanding academic provision, but we must remember that the mental and emotional wellbeing of children is just as important as their academic performance, and can profoundly influence these results. I worry that the burden of exam pressures shouldered from such a young age is damaging our children; storing problems for individuals and society as a whole. Of course, the pressure just to get into these schools is only the beginning. The stress children feel and the pressure to achieve the best results is unlikely to let up throughout their careers in such a school environment. While some children thrive on pressure, most don’t. Is such a choice really the best thing for your child? A good education is not about teaching children tactics to pass exams. The best schools will teach pupils to think independently and creatively, to make mistakes and learn from them, emerging at the end of their school career with the confidence to be the best that they can be, and to accept others for what they are. Excellent academic results will come as a happy consequence. Choosing a secondary school is one of the most important decisions that you will make for your children. While the quality of teaching, ethos, facilities and activities on offer, and pastoral care, are undoubtedly the factors which determine the suitability of a school for each child, location is often the limiting factor. Take away the bounds of a daily commute, and the pool of prospective schools will increase exponentially. I cannot impress on you enough that choosing a school outside of London should not and does not mean compromising on results. There are a great number of schools outside the capital who sit consistently at the top of the league tables, and the majority of these are boarding schools. Mayfield is among them. We are a highly academic school, but this doesn’t stop us placing as much emphasis on challenging each pupil
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outside the classroom as within it. We treat our pupils as individuals and as such, furnish them with the skills they will need to go on and be successful in life. They often exceed expectations, including their own. The modern myth of the ‘heartless’ parents who send their child to board is being turned on its head. If you as parents find yourself needing to work late, then you probably rely on childcare more than you would like. When you finally get home, is your time spent as an on call taxi service, then nagging tired children to finish their homework? Are you confident that you know where your offspring are, with whom, or what they are accessing on the internet? In the light of your answers, think again: might boarding actually be better for them, and you? Quite apart from the convenience, boarding can enrich pupils’ school experiences, helping them to develop confidence and independence within a secure and mentored environment. Boarding houses these days offer plenty of home comforts, and what better for teenagers than to have friends on call from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep? Modern boarding can be a flexible option, with many schools offering weekly, termly and flexi options. It can allow parents more freedom within increasingly busy schedules, while removing the sometimes substantial travelling time from a child’s day can enable him or her to participate in more sport, extra-curricular activities and allow them extra study time. Many schools – Mayfield included - are within easy reach of London, and offer transport to and from central London. Set amongst the rolling hills and wooded valleys of East Sussex, Mayfield offers not only the most glorious views but also the luxury of space: we have extensive grounds, and our pupils benefit from a range of sports and outdoor activities in school and the surrounding countryside. For example, Mayfield has its own equestrian centre on site, enabling pupils to ride at lunchtimes and after school; a luxury enjoyed by very few London school children. Working hard and playing hard is easy! The over-subscribed hothouse mentality, PAGE 44
Antonia Beary, Headmistress
Student, Mayfield House
obsessed with league table ranking, is putting our children’s mental health at risk. There is so much more to life –an education for life - than jumping through hoops, whether it is during their time at school, or in order to get into the school in the first place. If you want your children to be defined by more than just their exam results, it may be time to take a step back and consider the alternatives. Miss Antonia Beary is Headmistress of Mayfield, a Catholic independent school in East Sussex for girls aged 11-18.
“We don’t feel constrained by the rules of planting... we’re more daring in our designs and we like to take risks.”
THE (NEW ZEALAND) COUNTRY GARDEN Harry and David are The Rich Brothers, two young but impressive brothers from the South West of England making a name for themselves in landscape design. Their latest commission is from the Kiwi winemakers Cloudy Bay, whom this May they will create a garden for the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show. We caught up with them at the unveiling of their grand design. What was your brief for the Cloudy Bay Garden? Having had two gardens previously at the Chelsea Flower Show, Cloudy Bay knows not to be too prescriptive when it comes to briefing designers. Whilst we welcome and value involvement, Chelsea is about bringing creativity to the fore and it’s fantastic to work with a brand that values and understands creativity and doesn’t stifle it through detail. Cloudy Bay kept its brief simple for 2015 and asked that the design reflects its signature Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines. Other than that we had a free reign in the design process. The wines were at the heart of the original brief that will be the stand out feature with elements of layering and complexity along with subtle nuances. To understand the Cloudy Bay design ahead of time, as it was a bit far to fly to New Zealand, we were privileged enough to meet Tim Heath, the Senior Winemaker, which really brought home what Cloudy Bay is all about. We had a tasting of their wines which provided liquid inspiration and we’ve done our homework in terms of understanding the ethos and philosophy behind
the brand. Hopefully that will show through our design that we really worked hard to get under the skin of what Cloudy Bay is about. What was your response and interpretations? Because we’re young we don’t feel constrained by the rules of planting. I think we are more daring in our designs and we like to take risks. Chelsea is a global platform which encourages experimentation. Cloudy Bay has a similar approach to its wines. They’re constantly pushing the boundaries to see what is possible given the soil type, vines and wine making process. We will be pushing some boundaries come May as well. The clean, aromatic freshness of Sauvignon Blanc and the dark, earthy, texture of Pinot Noir will take centre stage in the garden and the design aims to reflect the characteristics of both wines with effective use of light whites and greens which will contrast against deep purples and plums. Water and wood will both feature in the design, the former reflecting cleanness and crispness, whilst the wood nods to the barrel aging process. Clean and light concrete will contrast with rustic, earthy textured stone, echoing the personalities PAGE 45
of the wines. The use of wood also references the Cloudy Bay ‘shack’ where visitors to the winery in New Zealand can stay and experience the vineyard. The two wooden structures within the design enable it to be enjoyed from different perspectives, whatever the weather. Wine is agriculture at the end of the day so there are many parallels. We grow and nurture plants as a winemaker grows and nurtures grapes. Our end result is visual, whilst Cloudy Bay’s is palatable, but many of the same skills are involved in the creative process. What will happen to your garden design following Chelsea? Cloudy Bay has plans to recreate the garden in some premium restaurants in London so we anticipate the Cloudy Bay garden living on throughout the summer. Hopefully that way it will give pleasure to many more people who were unable to see it in situ at Chelsea, but who will feel inspired through the food and wine matching experience.
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150 YEARS: ST MORITZ Winter Tourism was invented 150 years ago by the British so it’s fitting that this year’s Gourmet Festival invited 9 British Chefs to create a “British Edition”. RUPERT PARKER visits the annual St. Moritz event and learns that London’s finest, are the world’s.
I feel like I’m living a fantasy – I ask for a transfer from my hotel and they supply a Rolls-Royce Silver Phantom complete with chauffeur. Of course it’s no ordinary hotel but the famous Badrutt’s Palace in St. Moritz, Switzerland, whose famous guests have included Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin. I’m here for the annual Gourmet Festival, now in its 22nd year, and time around they’ve invited 9 British chefs, with 11 Michelin stars between them, to spend a week feeding the rich, famous and me. They’re calling it the “British Edition” because this year marks the 150th anniversary of winter tourism in St. Moritz. Way back in 1864, tourists only came in summer but, the story goes, that Johannes Badrutt, then an owner of a simple hotel, made his English visitors an offer he thought they couldn’t refuse. He invited them back for the winter, with the promise of sunshine and, if they didn’t like it, he’d refund their travel and accommodation costs. Of course they couldn’t get enough, stayed the whole winter and discovered alpine sports. These days British tourists are in short supply in St. Moritz and they’ve been replaced by wealthy Russians and other members of the international jet set, instantly recognizable by their furs, jewels and face lifts. The streets are lined with the likes of Gianni Versace, Cartier, Gucci and other designer names, fronted by the luxurious 4 and 5 star hotels where our British chefs will be cooking. Unlike other foodie festivals, they’ll all be here for a week, serving 6 course tasting menus every night for the princely sum of 195 Swiss Francs, or around £135, plus extra for the wines. The line-up is certainly impressive and gives a fair idea of what’s cooking in London and the UK at the moment. Angela Hartnett is at the Carlton, Jason Atherton at the Schwiezerhof, Martin Burge at the Suvretta House, Nathan Outlaw at the Waldhaus, Isaac McHale at the Kempinski, Claude Bosi at Badrutt’s Palace, Chong Choi Fong at the Kronenhof, Virgilio Martinez at the Giardino Mountain, and Atul Kochhar at the Kulm. It’s also good to see that multi-cultural Britain is represented in the form of Chinese, Peruvian and Indian cuisine and these chefs are certainly getting the most attention from the locals. The week kicks off with an extravagant affair at the Kempinski
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Grand Hotel des Bains. There’s a light flurry of snow outside but a glass of Champagne is thrust into my hand as I arrive and I’m ushered into the ballroom where the Union Jack is flying. The chefs are at their stations, scattered around the perimeter of room, and they’re all hard at work putting finishing touches to their 2 tapas-sized dishes. This is literally a taster of what’s to come, and I suppose if you decide you don’t like their food, you can always cancel your big dinner later on. Fortunately, as I make my way around, eating for Britain, it all seems pretty good, and I’m relieved that Claude Bosi’s Foie Gras ice cream and Jason Atherton’s smoked pork empanadas with black truffle are both delicious. I’ve chosen to eat at their tables later in the week and am not disappointed. I have to say, though that Atul Kochhar’s chicken tikka keeps me returning for seconds, and Virgilio Martinez’s inventive scallop tartare, with black quinoa and tigers milk, means a future visit to his Lima restaurant in London is a must. As I wander around, I’m interested to find out how you manage cooking food of this calibre in strange unfamiliar kitchens where some of the staff don’t even speak your language. Claude Bosi from Mayfair’s Hibiscus tells me that first you send through an exhaustive list of the ingredients, then you bring a couple of handpicked staff from your team who know exactly what you’re going to be cooking. Then never overstretch yourself and always cook within the limitations of the situation, otherwise you’ll be caught out. Angela Hartnett from Murano says her secret is to learn the name of one person in the kitchen, who hopefully speaks English, then turn to them if she has any questions. Of course St. Moritz has much more to offer than food. At an altitude of 1830m and over 300 days sunshine a year it’s perfect for winter sports. Two of the chefs confide in me that part of the reason they’ve come is so they can ski for 2 hours in the morning before they go into their kitchens. On a particularly sunny morning I take their hint and use the Badrutt’s Rolls Royce to transfer me to the base of the Corviglia funicular. It whisks me up to 2436m and I hike in the snow all day to work up an appetite for the evening’s 6 courses.
It’s not all about big dinners. Also on offer are gourmet safaris, where you’re chauffeured between 5 kitchens with a different course in each, or a daily caviar and seafood blizzard on Corviglia, cooked by master chef Reto Mathis. There are chocolate workshops, afternoon teas, champagne tastings, cheese pairings and, what for me, is one of the highlights, the Kitchen Party. It takes place on Wednesday, at 10.30 in the evening, deep in the subterranean kitchens of Badrutt’s Palace, packed with people. There’s a jazz band playing, champagne is flowing and those hard working chefs, fresh from serving their gourmet dinners, are cooking again. I have to confess I’ve just come from a stunning meal at the Suvretta House, prepared by Martin Burge, but that’s not going to stop me. After all, where else can you observe master chefs cooking at such close quarters, chat with them as they’re working and then dig your fingers in and taste their creations? In some ways it’s a re-run of the grand opening, except this time it’s hotter, people are squashed together and there’s food being cooked on the ranges. Of course all the revellers wear aprons over their finery and you have to go to the makeshift bar to grab your fine wines, but you can keep coming back for more. And if that’s not enough, there’s a whole room full of sushi, another packed with cheeses and then a third, a veritable temple of desserts. Daunting displays of milles feuilles, macaroons, with every possible chocolate permutation, and fantasy flavours of ice-creams make you never want to leave. And there’s more to come. At the end of the week is the Grand Finale where the 9 chefs each cook a dish and the Kulm Hotel is turned into a replica of Buckingham Palace, complete with cocktail reception and gala dinner. I’m not going to be there. After 4 days and 3 gourmet dinners, I feel I’ve eaten my fill and decide to take the train out of town and get back to normalcy. It’s great to have been enveloped in the bubble of St. Moritz, lived like royalty for a few days and shared my experiences with some of the world’s best chefs. And, after all, I reflect, I can still dine out on their food on my home turf in London –there’s no need to take the plane and shiver in the snow.
If you want to eat at their restaurants: LONDON: Angela Hartnett is at Murano, Jason Atherton at Pollen Street Social, Isaac McHale at the Clove Club, Claude Bosi at Hibiscus, Chong Choi Fong at the Dorchester, Virgilio Martinez at LIMA, and Atul Kochhar at Benares. OUTSIDE LONDON: Martin Burge at Whatley Manor in Wiltshire and Nathan Outlaw at the St. Enodoc Hotel in Cornwall.
The St. Moritz Gourmet Festival is an annual event. http://www.stmoritzgourmetfestival.ch/en/ Tourism Engadin St. Moritz has information on the region. http://www.engadin. stmoritz.ch/winter/en/ My Switzerland has information about the country. http://www.MySwitzerland.com SWISS offers 19 daily flights from London Heathrow, London City, Birmingham and Manchester to Zurich. Fares start from £147 return, including all airport taxes, one piece hold luggage and free ski carriage. http://www.swiss.com
KENSINGTON & CHELSEA REVIEW
RESTAURANT REVIEWS THE WORLD’S END MARKET
459 Kings Road, Chelsea, SW10 0LR www.theworldsendmarket.com/ WORDS: SARAH JACKSON The fashion in décor amongst the coolest eateries in London these days seems to be a total divergence from old school posh and its uptight adherence to sophistication and order. Young, hip and boutique-y restaurants are the decorative equivalent of artfully arranged bed head hair. In other words, they look trés cool without giving the slightest hint that they’ve lifted a finger. The World’s End Market falls deftly into this category, being far closer to urban than urbane, with an intriguing dollop of the rural around the edges. The walls are covered with glossy white and black ceramic, the ceilings are high and show exposed light fittings, the kitchen with its big metal counter is exposed to the public, earthenware pots are displayed on shelves and the outside world is hidden by a hessian-style curtain. With its comfy seating, low lighting and gentle buzz of conversation, it’s impossible not to feel immediately relaxed. The menu too fits this informal pattern; in fact it’s just a few bits of paper attached to a clipboard. The starter menu is heavily weighted towards seafood and is certainly the most complex, with various carpaccios and tartares ranging from £6.00 to £8.50, served with delicious accoutrements like horseradish, shallots, lemon and truffle oil (with the salmon) or Moroccan eggplant and cumin mayonnaise (with the tuna). There are few interesting vegetarian options, like the aubergine, sundried tomatoes and goat’s cheese cream (£6.00) or the white asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, poached egg and parmesan (£6.00), but unless you’re a pescetarian, I wouldn’t bother eating here as most of the menu consists of meat and fish. There is only one meat option on the starter menu – the chicken broth with vermicelli noodles, carrot and toasted olive oil bread (£6.00) so if you’re a stalwart meat eater, I’d forgo a starter and head straight to the main menu where you’ll have your carnivorous appetite well and truly satisfied. The main menu dispenses with ceremony altogether and offers a simple choice between cuts of meat or fish, served with fries, a house salad and a selection of mint, peppercorn, horseradish or mushroom sauce, with an additional sauce for £1.50. The meats are the usual triumvirate of chicken, lamb or steak, with the piscine options being a lot more varied, with twelve available alternatives (rainbow trout, bream, mackerel, sardines and skate to list a few). All the main courses are charcoal grilled in a Josper oven, which I’m told by the manager is a Spanish oven which can get up to temperatures of 350 degrees, which allows it to cook the dishes
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more quickly while still maintaining their juiciness. And he’s quite right. The lamb and the T-bone steak (our picks for the evening) are flawlessly cooked; supremely succulent and mouthwateringly flavoursome. We also swapped out one serving of fries for a side dish of truffle mash (usually an extra £3.50), which although far from Smash, certainly smashed it in culinary terms. I particularly enjoyed the deliberate lumpiness, which although not to everyone’s taste I’m sure, added texture and a certain folksiness to go with the easygoing atmosphere. Mains cost in the area of £13-£26.50, with the vegetarian option (courgette stuffed with tomatoes, pine nuts and goat’s cheese with a balsamic reduction) being even cheaper at £9.80. Although I didn’t try them, I also noted that The World’s End Market does a separate and extensive burger menu if you’re after more casual fare. Most are around £11, with the crayfish roll burger topping this by a few quid at £14.50. They sound like a classier version of your average burger, mostly made with Guildford beef and containing things like truffle oil, caramelized onion, homemade mayo, blue cheese and chilli paste. Again, there is only one veggie option – predictably mushroom and halloumi. Beware: this menu isn’t available on Friday and Saturday evenings (after 5pm). The desert menu is as English as they come and right on target for the winter months, with hearty delicacies like red velvet cake (£4.50), chocolate fondant (£5.50), hazelnut and caramel cheesecake (£.5.50) and the obligatory cheese board, stuffed with British goodies. I tried the cheese cake, and for two reasons which I must cite here. Firstly the waiter recommended it, which was as good a reason as any. Secondly, and I admit probably more crucially, the menu described it as having a “buttery biscuit base”. I reckon the fame of Swede Mason’s “Masterchef Synesthesia” is sufficient for that phase to incur more giggles than non-plussed “huhs?”, but if you don’t know what I’m on about then type “buttery biscuit base” into google and you’ll see what I mean. Just do it. Do it now. Have you done it? It was worth it wasn’t it. As was eating the real thing. Sumptuously thick and creamy with chunks of crunchy hazelnut, silky sweet swirls of caramel and the aforementioned buttery biscuit base, this pudding added an impeccable end to an already enjoyable dinner. So, why dine at The World’s End Market? It’s the perfect place to go if you fancy an unhurried and pretention-free evening with friends, or perhaps even that first date when you wish to give the impression of effortless class without seeming too keen. Either way, the grub will be great, the price not too overwhelming and the atmosphere pleasantly mellow. What’s not to like?
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145 Notting Hill Gate, W11 www.valentinafinefoods.com WORDS: TANI BURNS I have found myself in an Italian deli. A very good one at that. My last visit to Valentina was for a twilight wine run – both shop and restaurant hours are the same, open until 10:30pm every night. I remember it had felt wrong to leave with a bottle of so much higher quality than the type of thing you’d usually pick up at that hour (‘beating the system’, if you will). Nonetheless, I’m back again, and thrown once more into the childhood nostalgia of staring, nose-pressed, at the chorizo, bresaola, gorgeous little anchovies and – my goodness – the sfogliatelle! In writing this review, I discover that my lifelong conviction that ‘sfogliatella’ means ‘lobster tail’ is entirely mistaken. Meaning in fact ‘small, thin leaf’, the pastry is so-called due to its light, crisp and layered texture, resembling stacked leaves. At Valentina they are piled high, close to the back – a little secret, much like the restaurant. Reached through the shop itself, the dining area is unassuming and modestly outfitted. Wine racks pose as chandeliers and there is a bicycle on one wall – were it further east this might raise an alarm to a hipster insurgence, but together with the black and white family portraits, charmingly dotted here and there, Valentina is far from such accusations. We order a house wine, the Medi Trebbiano from Abruzzo, a region not far from the Valentino groves. Delicate and harmonious, it’s spot-on for the meal to follow, whilst also offering a dry sharpness to cut through the extreme richness of the Fonduta di Fontina. “Melted Fontina cheese with asparagus and black truffle with toasted ciabatta bread” does not do justice to this gleeful excess of a dish, full of unctuous, truffley, molten Fontina. It evokes a victory banquet in The Village – I am the humbled Asterix, at odds with Getafix over who is most worthy of the final spoonful. By contrast, the exquisite (though enormous) scallops are sweet and creamy, pan-fried and served on a bed of wilted spinach and cauliflower, with an Avruga caviar sauce. As with the rest of the Specials menu, it is an exhibition of the very highest quality ingredients, with refreshingly modest price tags. Moving on to mains, it’s clear we will not be leaving hungry. Calves liver, pan-fried and served with a red wine and artichoke risotto topped with crispy pancetta, is a rich and well-balanced dish. The linguine, with langoustines and sautéed mixed seafood, is served simply in a light cherry tomato sauce. It could have done with half of the linguine, but its generosity is of course part of the rustic charm. Desserts – should you need one – are quality family fare, elegantly presented. We share a Pera Cotta, a pear poached in red wine with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream, and coconut sorbet as a perfect palate cleanser. Despite this being one of seven across London, Valentina is a proper family-run business, apparent in the no-fuss excellence of both shop and restaurant. Founded jointly by the Zoccola and Arcari families from Saint Elia Fiumerapido,
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a small village near Monte Cassino southeast of Rome, Valentina still sources a vast range of products and ingredients from their land, farmed for generations. Today the team is headed up by third generation family members, who return annually to harvest olives from the family grove for their own-label, award-winning olive oil. I can’t help thinking what a marvellous model they have here. And, all in all, at under £75 for two including wine, I regret not coming here before.
It’s meticulous in its culinary offering, inspired by modern trends in eating (I’ve never seen a curry house you can get brown or risotto rice in before), but is deeply unpretentious, authentic, accessible and most importantly, delicious. There is a care there akin to feeding your family on a special day, rather than setting out to please industry, and if that isn’t the spirit of Indian cooking, I don’t know what is. Indian cuisine gets a bad rap – high street curry houses tout an unhealthy and often unloved watered-down version of home cooking, and the Michelin-starred high-end versions use French and classical cooking methods to create innovative and inspiring creations that elevate the cuisine – but in doing so are no longer ‘true’ to it. Kishmish sits in between these stalls and is a much lauded staple in Fulham’s restaurant scene. We start with the Tulsi Jinga, chargrilled-toperfection black tiger prawns marinated in basil, alongside the lamb chops served in a delightfully refreshing cucumber yoghurt that I’d happily drink on its own. Kishmish pay attention to presentation, serving it’s dishes in exotic earthenware pots, on a slab and sometimes even in half a coconut shell. My guest and I share an aromatic biryani with Nariyal Ka Gosht - diced lamb cooked in lime leaf masala, baked in a fresh young coconut. The meat is melt-in-the-mouth gooey joy, and accompanied perfectly with the sizzling homemade paneer. We’re too full to sample dessert (the portions here are suitably generous), but the look of the ChocoMosa (marbled chocolate samosa with caramelised banana and rose petal icecream) looked nothing short of spectacular. Kishmish have a surprisingly extensive wine menu for a neighbourhood curry house (which is more proof it is a cut above the rest) but the themed cocktails really are unmissable. We’d highly recommend the Mumbai Tipple (limes, brown sugar & fresh pomegranate fruit muddled with bombay sapphire gin & pomegranate liqueur), but there are plenty to choose from. To be completely honest, at Kishmish you really can’t go wrong.
29 Thurloe Place, SW7 2HQ www.tombodeliandcafe.com WORDS: LINDA COOKE
448-450 Fulham Road, SW6 kishmish.biz WORDS: COCO KHAN I’m half an hour late by the time I arrive at Kishmish on a wet and windy day, tightly wound and frazzled from a long day at work. The waiter responds to my emphatic apologies unfazed and with an infectious coolness - ‘just relax, everything is fine, we’ll take care of everything’. ‘Taking care of everything’ is what makes Kishmish unique, and if I can be so bold as to say, one the of the best curry houses in London. PAGE 50
Snuggled away just around the corner from South Ken tube station is a little slice of Japanese zen. Tombo deli and cafe, the new kid on the block, is offering the lunchtime crowd, the afternoon snack seeker and the evening meal adventurer something a little on the different side and wholly riotous with virtue. The cafe itself is small but perfectly formed with a deli counter in the front and some window tables alongside (great for watching the world go by over your cleansing miso soup) and a welcoming space in the back perfect for taking tea. Takeaway is also available, which is just as well as once word gets out there’s bound to be a stampede for the Hoji cha Latte and Matcha Frappes. The food is light yet fuelling, focusing
on the ‘Healthy 6’: seaweed, miso, tofu, multigrain rice, sesame seeds and green tea/matcha. So far, so wholesome. Plenty of the favourites are here too, substantial rice and noodle bowls, sushi wraps and rolls, bento boxes with sashimi and mixed tapas for sharing so you certainly won’t be struggling for choice. The health conscious and those with dietary considerations have been fully embraced and should find plenty to smile about in the low fat, low carb and gluten free options. For the sweet tooth team, Tombo offer daifuku rice cake with azuki filling, mochi ice cream and dorayaki pancakes which you can take with matcha mascarpone, azuki and walnut or chocolate. Not to be missed is the Tombo Afternoon Tea. It’s too cute for words and perfect for sharing a lovely afternoon with your your mum, best friend or even a date. Between 3pm and 5pm you can have sushi followed by matcha cakes and dainty little macaroons in sesame and raspberry washed down with a pot of your chosen green tea (packed with antioxidants) or even, for a little extra, sparkling Sake (not quite so good for you but delicious nonetheless). There is a lovingly sourced range of teas here and I, for one, plan to keep coming back and try a different one each time. If you happen to linger on into the early evening following a nice afternoon tea or a long lunch, fear not because the beverage list extends fully to include Japanese beers such as Asahi and Kirin, Sake, Shochu and wine. How about that for perfection. If you discover a new blend of tea that you simply can’t live without then you’ll be delighted to know one can purchase loose leaf teas and teabags from the deli. Tombo is a handy little oasis in the madness of South Ken and definitely one for the Kensingtonite’s black book.
B O R N I N T H E E A S T. RAISED IN THE EAST END. Serving punchy Thai food with authentic ingredients sourced as locally as possible. From mighty venison to soft-shell crab; seasonal curries and stir-fries. Asian-inspired cocktails with exotic fruit and spiced blends including Thai rum martinis and boozy iced teas. Open seven-days a week, lunch and dinner. Online ordering and takeaway. Rosa’s - celebrating both homeland and home. R O SA’ S C H E L S E A 246 Fulham Road, London SW10 9NA www.rosasthaicafe.com/chelsea /rosaschelsea 020 3773 8384 @rosasthaicafe @rosasthaicafe
Eel Brook Common, New King’s Road, SW6 eelbrook.com WORDS: COCO KHAN Now that the weather has started to turn, Eelbrook is going to be the destination of Fulham. You’re going to have to work pretty damn hard to get a table if you want to visit on a Saturday or a Sunday, but it’s well worth putting the effort in – there really is nothing quite like this in the area. The first thing to mention is the location. Eelbrook sits on the corner of, surprise, Eel Brook Common and with glass doors making up nearly the entire park-facing wall, it has a light, airy and summery feel. With great views of a rare patch of London greenery, filled with families and picnickers, dining al-fresco will be a popular option - so book ahead! The food itself is a fusion of Mediterranean / North African flavours combined with traditional British cooking. You can select from the usual startermain-dessert combo or you have the option to tuck into a selection of ‘small plates’, which we’d recommend. Dining by small plates is very much on trend right now, but for the uninitiated they are bigger than a starter, smaller than a main, and are best eaten mixed and matched – like tapas but in a more cost effective and adventurous way. You have to understand that when you run a restaurant you’re usually under pressure to do certain things – like having a vegetarian, fish option, and steak option – so if you want to be affordable and not cripple yourself with costs of ingredients you’re limited on what you can offer as a main after these constraints. Small plates get around all that, and so often you find the most flair in these little plates of joy. At Eelbrook we’d recommend the grilled squid with coriander mojo – a fiery, green, kicker of a dip – as well as the home-made and fragrant Armenian Flatbread with the deep-flavoured, smoky Baba Ganoush. Pork crackling fans will also be impressed with Eel Brook’s stylish approach, serving them thin and crispy like breadsticks with a pink Yorkshire rhubarb. From the starters range, the pumpkin ravioli with brown butter and sage is suitably sweet and hearty, but the star of the show is the Lincolnshire smoked eel (well of course they had to serve eel) served with a colourful side of beetroot, apple, sorrel and horseradish gratings. A far cry from the jellied eel of London heritage, this lightly smoked and delicately cooked fish falls off the fork and has a uniquely meaty flavour that paired with the side salad is a complex and delicious mouthful. We’d had enough adventure for one day and for mains opted with the safe options of bavette steak with bordelaise sauce, and Dorset cod served with coastal veg and seaweed butter. Both were perfectly cooked and thoroughly satisfying. Too full for dessert, we rounded off with some sweet wine (the wine list here is impressive given how affordable the restaurant is) and, walking home plump and full, planned how we could get a table for brunch at the weekend.
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13 Queensway, W2 rcguk.co.uk WORDS: COCO KHAN There are several Royal China restaurants in London, but the very first (and one could argue its flagship) is found on the Queensway. On the Queensway itself, there are quite a few Chinese restaurants, most of them relatively unremarkable from the outside, looking not vastly dissimilar from the more functional eateries in China Town. Royal China is different to this – from its black and gold signage, huge ornate paintings on the wall and gold leaf ceiling, it is clear that Royal China is the luxury offering on the strip (although the 70s style heavily-patterned carpet is a design throwback we don’t quite understand). We’re here to sample the dim sum, which Royal China has become renowned for. It’s what you always see the Chinese locals eating when you visit (which is a testament to how good it is) and is a constantly changing menu as the dedicated dim sum chefs experiment with new taste combinations inspired by London and Hong Kong. However, much to our dismay we find they don’t serve Dim Sum at dinner, only at lunch. Still, there was plenty to get stuck into – crispy duck breast served with the skin, Shaolin-style steamed veg served in a claypot over a burner, Singapore noodles, and steamed scallops. All of the food was well-cooked, generous in portion size, and arrived swiftly. It’s clear Royal China use far better ingredients than your average Chinese restaurant, but sadly that wasn’t reflected much in the taste. That’s not to say it tasted bad, but that it tasted familiar which is a shame given the slightly more expensive price-tags attached to dishes. We were watching the pennies, so opted for the less extravagant dishes (top end seemed to jump in price considerably) but, seeing the more unique, almost sculptural dishes (the luxurious delicacy of edible Bird’s Nest springs to mind) come out of the kitchen, I am certain there are some gems here. I’d certainly visit again to find out. PAGE 52
WINE: UNIQUE & NEW FOR 2015 With the beginning of a New Year you can always be sure to see a rise in a variety of different products; both new and revised, but all equally as exciting and sure to bring something fresh and delicious to the party of trends for 2015. These trends are explored, explained and brought to us exclusively by Amathus. With many of us making more consciously informed health and lifestyle choices, there has been a big rise in the popularity of organic products within every sphere of consumer produce; and this is no less true for beverages. One of the hottest trends in the wine world right now is organic and biodynamic winemaking. Off the back of the prevalence of organic fruit and vegetables, the demand for organic wine among wine consumes has shot up in recent years. Essentially organic winemaking means that the vineyards where the grapes grow have been farmed without the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides. The principle is to create a sustainable ecosystem that is self-supporting without the need for artificial protection. A further requirement is that winemakers must not exceed maximum levels of sulphites in the finished wine. It is very normal during the winemaking process to use sulphites to protect the wine from oxygen (otherwise the wine would turn brown and eventually to vinegar). A lot of people think that organic wines contain no sulphites but this is simply not true in most cases. Sulphites are still used in organic winemaking but the difference is that lower amounts will usually be used. Biodynamics are basically a supercharged form of organic winemaking where spiritual and cosmic philosophies meet those of agriculture. Sounds a bit wacky, doesn’t it? But, rest assured all biodynamic wines are organic in the sense that they also do not use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides in the vineyards and contain lower sulphites. Biodynamic winemakers separate themselves from their
organic counterparts by working with the cycle of nature and the lunar calendar. For example, they will spray their vines with special formulated minerals and only pick grapes on certain days according to the phases of the moon. A good example of this is Ron Brown, winemaker at the Maverick winery in Barossa. He buries cow horns stuffed with manure from lactating cows in the ground for months on end before digging them up and mixing with water to create a high nutrient, natural fertiliser. Although the term “organic” or “biodynamic” is not a guaranteed stamp of quality, you stand a very good chance of buying a wine which has been made with dedication and integrity; Maverick Trial Hill Riesling 2012, Gindl Grüner Veltliner "Little Buteo" 2013, Amastuola Primitivo 2011 are all great examples of this and are definitely worth trying if you’re interested in finding about more about organic wine. However the trends for 2015 are not purely governed by these healthier lifestyle choices, and we can see a number of different producers working to create new and exciting products, that encourage and entice our taste buds. Port has a reputation for being one of our most traditional and seasonal drinks. It is usually always consumed after dinner, often with cheese, throughout the winter months and Christmas. But, recently, the image of Port has started to be reshaped as people are discovering its versatility. White Port and the Tawny style served chilled are starting to challenge the traditional Ruby Ports in popularity. Amathus are firm believers that Port should be enjoyed with more of an open mind and have been working with Cálem Port to evangelise PAGE 53
the category’s versatility to a number of London’s top cocktail bars. Likewise 2014 saw Clément making a name for rhum agricole, identifying the features of Martinique Rhum against English Rum and Spanish Ron. Most commonly seen in cocktails and Ti’Punch, Clément are catching attention again and are sure to make a big impact in 2015, releasing their Single Cask range. This is not your average Rhum agricole to be combined in a cocktail or mixer, but designed to be enjoyed as a sipping rhum; one that may even rival your favourite whisky. We recommend you try Clément Single Cask “Vanille Intense” 100% Canne Bleue, Aged 9 years. Similarly, Mezcal, which took the London bar scene by storm in 2014 is set to grow in popularity throughout the whole of the UK and in the homes of the consumer in 2015. If you haven’t already played party to this fantastic spirit, we would recommend you try Alipus San Baltazar Mezcal as your entry level into the world of Mezcal. Fermented in pine vats & distilled by Don Cosmé Hernandez from agave Espadín, it produces a taste that is delicate and fruity, whilst slightly sweet. Amathus was established in 1978 and is a London based specialist drinks importer, distributor and retailer offering a complete drinks solution for the UK; they are committed to working with and expanding their unique portfolio to encompass exclusive and exciting spirits, boutique wines and craft beers. All these products are ready to buy at www. amathusdrinks.com or in your local Knightsbridge store, 203 Brompton Road, SW3 1LA.
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DRIVE TIME KCR Motoring Editor LISA CURTISS has a car for you, whatever the purpose.
“It is, in fact, the most responsive production model there is, with razorsharp response times comparable to those of a track car.”
SUPER CAR Ferrari 488 GTB Fresh from its debut at the Geneva motor show, Ferrari’s newly designed 488 GTB makes a striking addition to the supercar club. Setting a new benchmark for the sports car sector, the model draws from Ferrari’s success in both F1 and endurance racing, and combines extreme power with the ultimate in driveability. Featuring a new 3.9-litre V8 turbo engine that sets a class-leading benchmark for power output, torque and response times, the 488 is capable of unleashing 661 bhp at 8,000 rpm along with 561 lb ft of maximum torque from just 2,000 rpm. These figures enable this Ferrari to accelerate from 0-200 km/h in an astonishing 8.3 seconds. It is, in fact, the most responsive production model there is, with razorsharp response times comparable to those of a track car. Designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre, the 488 GTB’s sculptural forms are completely new, accentuating the car’s sportiness yet retaining the classically clean, pure lines typical of the company’s legendary styling. The seamless interweaving of form and function is clear in every detail.
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In the cabin, the seamless integration of the new satellite control clusters, angled air vents and instrument panel give the sense that the cockpit is completely tailored around the driver. Usability was the key word in the design, leading to an extremely sporty ambience that in no way compromises on comfort. There are plenty of classic Ferrari styling elements too, such as the clear separation between the dashboard and tunnel, the multifunctional steering wheel, the control switch bridge and wraparound seats. The graphics and interface of the infotainment screen have also been completely redesigned. Powerful, exhilarating, utterly desirable. Prices not revealed at time of going to press. For more information visit www.ferrari.com.
PERFORMANCE CAR Porsche 911 GT3 The just unveiled 911 GT3 RS blurs the boundary between road-going sports models and genuine thrill-a-second track racers. Equipped with the maximum degree of motorsport technology possible in a street-legal 911, yet still supremely driveable. Not an easy feat to achieve. A 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine delivering an impressive 500 bhp and 460 Nm of torque enables the RS to tackle the standard 0-62 mph sprint in only 3.3 seconds. It’s also just set a blistering 7 min 20 secs lap time of the 14 mile hallowed Nürburgring circuit. The distinctive, wide-arched bodyshell is derived from the 911 Turbo, and signifies its status as a race track-oriented driving machine. A front spoiler lip, which extends nearly to the road, together with large rear wing give it an aggressively handsome kerb appeal.
Lexus LF-SA Concept Super compact, driver focused, luxurious and technology packed, the just unveiled LF-SA concept from Lexus is the stuff of discerning city dwellers’ dreams. Not in production yet – but keep an eye on lexus.co.uk for updates.
The chassis of the 911 GT3 RS has been tuned for maximum driving dynamics and precision. Rear-axle steering and Porsche Torque Vectoring. Plus with fully variable rear limited slip differential increase agility and dynamics, and the wider front and rear track widths enable even higher roll stability than in the 911 GT3. All combine to provide even more agile turn-in characteristics and higher cornering speeds. Slip inside the cabin and this GT3’s performance pedigree is obvious. You’ll see carbon fibre ‘bucket’ seats, a bolted-in roll cage, six-point driver safety harness and even a fire extinguisher. The new 911 GT3 RS is available to order now from Porsche Centres from £131,296. First cars arrive in showrooms during May. Visit www. porsche.co.uk
COUNTRY CAR Volvo XC90 T8
Volvoâ€™s new XC90 T8 delivers all the performance of a luxury SUV, with ultra low emissions even small hybrid cars struggle to match. This makes it the ideal car for both city and country life. With handsome lines and bold curves, its an attractive alternative to the many boxy large SUVs around, capable of ferrying a family and friends with seven seats. Considering its size, this XC90 is super-miniswift achieving 0-62mph in just 5.9 seconds, and its supple 2-litre Drive-E petrol engine delivers a respectable 400bhp with 472lb ft torque whilst emitting just 59g Co2/km. Visit www.volvocars.com
KENSINGTON & CHELSEA REVIEW
McQueen-inspired Fashion Forward Afternoon Tea at The Kensington Hotel 109 -113 Queenâ€™s Gate, South Kensington, London, SW7 5LR @hotelkensington LONDON