September/October 2020 FREE
01. Contents Cover: Herbs at Nurtured in Norfolk, by Orlando Gili 30. Source materials
04. 22. FORWARD THINKING YOUR GUIDE TO SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER IN MARYLEBONE
FEEDING FRENZY HOW CITY HARVEST TAKES ON THE TWIN SCOURGES OF FOOD WASTE AND HUNGER
14-37. Features 14. Grand designers 22. Feeding frenzy 26. Street fighting men 30. Source materials
SOURCE MATERIALS CARLO SCOTTO TOURS TWO OF THE FARMS THAT SUPPLY HIM WITH INGREDIENTS AND INSPIRATION
14. 26. 44. GRAND DESIGNERS MARYLEBONEâ€™S DESIGN EXPERTS ON THEIR FAVOURITE BRITISH DESIGNERS
STREET FIGHTING MEN HOW A BOUT OF CLASS WARFARE PREVENTED OUR STREET NAMES FROM BEING SIMPLIFIED
04-13. Up front 04. Forward thinking 08. Local lives 12. My perfect day
NEMANJA BORJANOVIC & MELODY ADAMS THE DUO BEHIND LURRA AND DONOSTIA ON FOOD AND THE BASQUE COUNTRY
38-43. Culture 38. A ndy Murton, actor and bookseller 42. Book reviews 44-51. Food 44. Q&A: Nemanja Borjanovic & Melody Adams of Lurra and Donostia 48. Street party 50. Food philosophy 52-61. Style 52. Q&A: Sandeep Verma of Allbirds 58. The look 62-67. Life 62. Q&A: Adnan Mohammed of Mr and Mrs Small 68-71. Health 68. Q&A: Mr Shaw Somers, consultant gastrointestinal surgeon at The London Clinic 72-75. Space 72. Inside knowledge 74. Q&A: Neil Scott of Carter Jonas
02. Editor’s letter
SLIGHT RETURN MARK RIDDAWAY
Marylebone Journal Web: marylebonejournal.com Twitter: @MaryleboneJrnl Instagram: marylebonejrnl Facebook: Marylebone Journal
Hello. How’ve you been? Sorry we’re late, but the traffic was terrible. And, well, there was this awful pandemic that showed up and stopped everything in its tracks, making the publication of a local magazine completely impossible. We’re here now, though, and nothing much has changed. Apart from just about everything.
Editor Mark Riddaway firstname.lastname@example.org Deputy editors Viel Richardson email@example.com Clare Finney firstname.lastname@example.org Sub-editor Ellie Costigan email@example.com
With many of Marylebone’s shops, restaurants and venues now open and in need of a bit of support, the time definitely feels right for us to once again be writing about the incredible independent businesses, cultural institutions, charities and local residents who make this neighbourhood such a special place and this publication such a pleasure to produce. It is thanks to the unceasing support of our friends at The Portman Estate and The Howard de Walden Estate that we’ve been able to pull together this digital edition of the Journal, which looks very much a regular printed edition of the Journal but with more binary code and less paper. We hope you enjoy reading it even if you won’t be able to line your cat’s litter tray with it once you’re done. A small note of warning: some of the articles in here were initially due to be published in an April edition which never saw the light of day, so if any of the photography alarms you with its up-close, unmasked intimacy, rest assured that it was taken in much simpler, safer times. All things being even, we hope to be back with a printed edition in November.
Advertising sales Donna Earrey 020 7401 2772 firstname.lastname@example.org Publisher LSC Publishing lscpublishing.com Contributers Jean-Paul Aubin-Parvu, Lauren Bravo, Sasha Garwood, Orlando Gili, Jackie Modlinger, Christopher L Proctor Design and art direction Em-Project Limited email@example.com Owned and supported by The Howard de Walden Estate 27 Baker Street, W1U 8EQ 020 7580 3163 hdwe.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org The Portman Estate 40 Portman Square, W1H 6LT 020 7563 1400 portmanestate.co.uk email@example.com
Join us online to fall head over heels for Portman Marylebone this Autumn For the latest news, events and exclusive content visit portmanmarylebone.com @portmanmarylebone #HeadOverHeels #PortmanMaryleboneIsOpen
04. Up front
FORWARD THINKING YOUR GUIDE TO SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER IN MARYLEBONE
05. Up front
GUIDED WALK 19th—20th SEPTEMBER HOWARD DE WALDEN ESTATE WALKING TOURS As part of this year’s Open House London festival, architectural historian and urban explorer Mike Althorpe will be leading a walking tour of The Howard de Walden Estate, incorporating the area’s most important streets and impressive buildings. Starting at the beautiful St Marylebone Parish Church and ending, appropriately, at RIBA, the home of British architecture, the tour will begin its loop around this fascinating part of central London at 2pm on both the Saturday and Sunday and will last for around two hours. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance, and participants will need to bring a phone with internet access and headphones, as Mike will be commentating over a Zoom call in order to maintain social distancing. Open House Festival openhouselondon.open-city. org.uk
GUIDED WALK 19th & 26th SEPTEMBER, 3rd OCTOBER THE ‘IT PEOPLE’: THE PORTMAN MARYLEBONE WALKS OF FAME
EVENT 22nd—24th SEPTEMBER AUTUMN GRAZE MARKET / KINDNESS IS POWERFUL EXHIBITION
These 90-minute walks through the Portman Marylebone area, led by a Blue Badge guide, will explore the neighbourhood’s rich history of music, fashion and art, against a backdrop of fine 18th and 19thcentury houses, elegant garden squares, huge churches, and characterful shopping streets. Each walk will take you past the homes of two Beatles and a seventies rock legend, an extraordinary art gallery whose works never leave London, and the shadowy world of espionage. The walk, which starts at 11am, has been set up to comply will all the latest Covid guidelines. Pre-booking is essential and tickets cost £10, all of which goes to the City Harvest charity.
This three-day event in Portman Square Garden, organised by the Baker Street Quarter Partnership and The Portman Estate, celebrates the joys of eating outdoors in the early autumn sunshine (fingers crossed). Some of the area’s most popular eateries, including The Grazing Goat, Lurra, Jikoni, The Montagu Kitchen, Kitchen at Holmes, Etna Coffee and
Portman Marylebone portmanmarylebone.com
Chiltern Street Deli, will be setting up alongside street food traders from Urban Food Fest and wellbeing experts from the University of Westminster, BXR, W1 Physio and Seymour Leisure Centre. Evening food tours of the area can also be booked, with the £2 fee going to the Estate’s charity partner, City Harvest, which collects surplus food and distributes it to over 300 community partners. In the garden, look out for the charity’s Kindness is Powerful exhibition, which tells personal stories about its work, accompanied by photos by Andrew McLeay. Autumn Graze Market bakerstreetq.co.uk
06. Up front
MUSIC 25th SEPTEMBER SAINSBURY ROYAL ACADEMY SOLOISTS The Royal Academy of Music isn’t yet able to welcome audiences back to its concert halls in person, but the performances of its hugely talented students can still be enjoyed online. For this concert, livestreamed on YouTube from the Duke’s Hall, The Sainsbury Royal Academy Soloists—the Academy’s elite string ensemble— will be directed from the violin by the eminent soloist and orchestral leader Clio Gould, who will take them through Benjamin Britten’s Lachrymae, featuring variations on songs by John Dowland, the premiere of a new work by PhD composition student Nuno da Rocha, and Rudolf Barshai’s transcription of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No 8 in C minor. Royal Academy of Music Marylebone Road, NW1 5HT ram.ac.uk
THEATRE UNTIL 27th SEPTEMBER JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Back in 2016, the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre created a staging of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar so successful that it returned the following year, won a raft of Olivier and Evening Standard awards, then embarked on a season at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, 60 dates at the Barbican and a three-year North American tour. This summer, the musical has made an unexpected return to the theatre in a form specially adapted for the demands of social distancing. Audience numbers are reduced in the auditorium, there’s no interval, and tickets are available to watch via a giant screen on the lawn. Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre Inner Circle, NW1 4NU openairtheatre.com
Jesus Christ Superstar
EXHIBITION UNTIL 1st OCTOBER JULIAN MARTIN AND TERRY WILLIAMS: THE DEEP
Julian Martin and Terry Williams are both longstanding members of Arts Project Australia, a Melbourne-based organisation that supports artists with intellectual disabilities and advocates for their inclusion in contemporary art practice. Martin produces boldly abstract or semi-abstract pastel-on-paper drawings, their bright colours built up to create a rich, velvety surface, while Williams binds, threads and folds fabrics to create soft, squishy renderings of everyday objects. The main thing they share, besides a home city, is a relentless commitment to their own highly personal vision. Gallery of Everything 4 Chiltern Street, W1U 7PS gallevery.com
07. Up front
EXHIBITION 22nd SEPTEMBER —3rd OCTOBER JO TAYLOR: CHARCOAL & INK Jo Taylor unveils a new body of charcoal and ink works on paper, visiting popular motifs and new subjects, including horses, bulls, forest animals, and more. The formidable draftswoman delivers kinetic, exciting bodies in motion in high contrast. Thompson’s Gallery 3 Seymour Place, W1H 5AZ thompsonsgallery.co.uk
EXHIBITION 30th SEPTEMBER —10th OCTOBER THE AINU COLLECTION AT LONDON CRAFT WEEK
EXHIBITION 1st OCTOBER —14th NOVEMBER ANDREAS GEFELLER: THE OTHER SIDE OF LIGHT
The debut exhibition at this new art, craft and design gallery encompasses furniture, accessories and objects that explore the craft of the Ainu, an indigenous culture of northern Japan. Toru Kaizawa, a sculptor with Ainu heritage, has created an elaborate wooden kimono sculpture, ceramic and porcelain tablewares and handembroidered linen textiles. He has also collaborated with the gallery’s founder, Shiro Muchiri, on a series of wood and steel medical cabinets whose solid wooden doors feature a carved motif of the eyes of the Blakiston’s fish owl—an Ainu protection symbol.
German photographer Andreas Gefeller uses his camera in a way that captures the truth of a scene while consistently deceiving the eye. Much of his earlier photography sought out the strange abstract beauty found within urban and manmade spaces when viewed extremely close up, from high above, or stitched together in compositions of such vast scale and incredible detail that the brain struggles to catch up. In this new exhibition, he turns his lens on the natural world, creating imagery from decontextualised shots of plants, clouds, water and other elements of the great outdoors. The series is accompanied by works from his earlier projects, providing an overview of his evolution as an artist.
SoShiro 23 Welbeck Street, W1G 8DZ soshiro.co
Atlas Gallery 49 Dorset Street, W1U 7NF atlasgallery.com
MUSIC 13th SEPTEMBER —22nd DECEMBER NEW AUTUMN SERIES Despite the many challenges currently involved in running a music venue, Wigmore Hall has pulled together a stellar series, featuring 100 concerts and more than 200 artists, diverse in background and repertoire. While Wigmore Hall’s cosmopolitan outlook is still very much in evidence, the line-up is weighted towards artists based in the UK, partly to cut down on travel demands and partly to support Britain’s extraordinary community of musicians at a time of great uncertainty. If all goes to plan, most of their performances will be in the presence of a limited audience, with tickets made available to Friends of Wigmore Hall via a ballot, but all of them will also be livestreamed, and at least 28 will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. Wigmore Hall 36 Wigmore Street, W1U 2BP wigmore-hall.org.uk
8. Up front
MEGAN HARBER Megan has been a qualified keeper at ZSL London Zoo for nearly five years, but volunteered at the zoo for two years before that INTERVIEW: JEAN-PAUL AUBIN-PARVU PORTRAITS: ORLANDO GILI
I have always been obsessed with animals. Growing up we had cats and hamsters and things like that, but never any sort of crazy, majestic animals. I think deep down I always wanted to be a zoo keeper, although I didn’t realise it until I’d finished my degree in fine art— obviously a very useful qualification. And then I just had an epiphany. I suddenly got this burning desire to become a zoo keeper, so turned my attention to that and was full steam ahead. In order to get an animal qualification behind me I did a selflearning course while also working full time. I studied during both my free time and at work, because I didn’t really like my job, and then started volunteering.
I did a work placement at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Bristol followed by a year of volunteering at Golders Hill Park Zoo up in Hampstead Heath. I then managed to get a stewarding position at ZSL London Zoo. You have to start at the very bottom here. They want you to show that you are super, super dedicated to the cause and to the institution. And then very luckily I managed to get a volunteer keeper position, then a six-month seasonal position and eventually a trainee position. That’s you in the zoo basically, and then you just progress up the ranks. I am a keeper on the Hoof Stock section, which includes the red river hogs, camels, giraffes, zebras, okapi, red forest duiker, hippos and warthogs.
I think deep down I always wanted to be a zoo keeper, although I didn’t realise it until I’d finished my degree in fine art. And then I just had an epiphany
But I mostly work with the zebras, duiker and okapi. Okapi live in dense rainforest in the Congo and are highly endangered. We have two okapi at the zoo, each with a very different temperament. Oni, our female, is quite a young animal and super laidback, really lovely, loves an ear scratch. She likes people and attention and is the princess of the section. Then we’ve got Mbuti, who’s our male and her boyfriend and is on the other end of the scale. He’s a bit of an old boy and can be grumpy. But he is really nice. Oni is pregnant. Okapi have a 14 to 15 month pregnancy and so she’s been pregnant for a very long time and is due between now and October. We do ultrasound scans on her just like you would
9. Up front
10. Up front
a human. It’s the same machine essentially, with the same sort of jelly. But it’s just scaled up a bit and it’s more of an effort to get all the way through an okapi’s stomach. Luckily Oni is very good. She will stand still for an hour if you need her to, provided you give her the right food. We are all very much looking forward to welcoming Oni’s calf to the zoo. We are on tenterhooks, all prepped and ready for it to pop any day. A typical shift starts at 8am when we give the animals their breakfast. With the okapi we do foot care and grooming in the morning. The okapi are trained to pick up their feet for us so we can remove any dirt and stones and check that their feet are nice and healthy. We
You don’t realise you have the best job in the world until someone comes along and goes: “Wow!” And then you think, oh yes, wow! I’m standing in here stroking an opaki, and she’s my friend
have to keep on top of that. We also give them a brush, which is the best part of the day. Brushing is a nice way to maintain a bond between the keeper and the animal, and we use it to introduce any new people to the section. The poo needs to be picked up and the browse needs to be replenished. The okapi eat a lot of browse, so we have to tie it all up in bundles and hang it up for them. We spend a lot of the afternoon doing enrichment—anything that we can do to make each animal’s day more interesting, keep their brains ticking over and encourage natural behaviours. For example, we give the okapi and giraffes these balls that have holes in them. They can shove their long tongues in, have a root
around and pull stuff out. That’s a really nice natural behaviour for them and it keeps them busy. Mbuti is a bit of a chunker who eats his food too quickly, so the ball actually slows down his eating as well. We have to really monitor him. The giraffes have a big football that they enjoy kicking around on the paddock. And that’s the afternoon basically. Do all the food preparation for the evening and the next morning, tie up the browse and hoist it up for the animals. And then we clean some animals again in the evening, give them their dinner and that’s the end of the day. You don’t realise you have the best job in the world until someone comes along and goes: “Wow!” And then you think, oh yes, wow! I am
11. Up front
A TIME FOR GIVING
London Zoo is run by the Zoologocial Society of London (ZSL), a national institution working at the forefront of biodiversity conservation and research. As the impact of the zoo’s closure on its wider activities became apparent, The Howard de Walden Estate answered the society’s call for support by signing up as
ZSL is a charity and we rely on the public, and if there’s nobody coming in then we’re not getting any money. We’re really hoping that people can help support us in other ways
a corporate member of ZSL. This was just one of the actions taken by the two Marylebone Estates to provide help to local charities and community organisations during the pandemic, many of which saw their revenues drying up just as demand for their services began to soar. Among the charities that received financial donations from Howard de Walden were Age UK Westminster, West London Mission, North Paddington Food Bank, The Hidden Network and The Advance Charity, which between them work with some of the most vulnerable members of the Westminster community. The Portman Estate supports a number of local charities each year
through its charitable arm, The Portman Foundation. These currently include The Four Feathers Youth and Community Centre Afterschool Club, FoodCycle Marylebone, St John’s Hospice Child Bereavement Service, the Regent Street Cinema Matinee Classics programme, the Saturday Club at the University of Westminster and the Portman Early Childhood Centre. During the pandemic, the Estate has also made donations to North Paddington Food Bank, City Harvest, West London Mission, Emergency Designer Network, Hospitality for Heroes, Age UK Westminster and Westminster Befriend a Family.
standing in here stroking an okapi—most people don’t know what an okapi is—and she’s my friend. That is pretty cool. It’s also very rewarding when you see animals engaging with the enrichment items. I really like talking to people about animals and seeing how much enjoyment they get from them. And it’s not sitting at a desk all day. I couldn’t do that. Lockdown was very strange. It just felt quiet and empty here. You start to really miss people and then you start to worry about the zoo in general. We still had to turn up right through lockdown because the animals need feeding and cleaning every day, and so the zoo has the same outgoings but absolutely no income. We were all starting to feel very
uneasy towards the end. ZSL is a charity and we rely on the public, and if there’s nobody coming in then we’re not getting any money. It feels wonderful to finally have the public back here at the zoo and showing their support. It just makes you realise how much people actually love the zoo, and it’s lovely that during this unpleasant time in the world people feel that they can come here, be safe and have a really nice day. But we’re on reduced capacity at the moment in order to keep a nice safe environment, and that does mean that fewer people can visit every day. So we’re really hoping that people can help support us in other ways, either by purchasing an annual membership or by donating to our
fundraising appeal. The full details can be found on our website. Sir David Attenborough is supporting the cause, which is really amazing. He is trying to raise a million pounds a month, which is quite a tall order. ZSL covers more than just the zoos. ZSL is a scientific society and so the bulk of our work is in science and conservation. But without the zoo then we can’t get the money to fund all the other important things that we do. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who’s already supported the zoo. We’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of support and loyalty that we’ve had from both our members and the general public. ZSL LONDON ZOO Regen t’s Park, NW1 4RY zsl.org/london
12. Up front
MY PERFECT DAY GIANCARLO AND
Shopping Katie: I like Caroline Gardner for gifts, and I love VV Rouleaux. We actually use them quite often for decorations in the restaurant. Giancarlo: We use New Cavendish Jewellers for repairs, and they come for dinner.
KATIE CALDESI The owners of Caldesi in Marylebone describe their perfect Marylebone day
Culture Katie: Wigmore Hall is the best in the world. If we weren’t always so busy, we would go there more. Giancarlo: We go to Daunt Books a lot, though—we absolutely love it. We always get our travel books from there, I used to take the kids all the time. They can sit down in the kids section, and look through books and see what they want before buying.
INTERVIEW: CLARE FINNEY
Breakfast Katie: I would get some delicious live yoghurt from La Fromagerie and then go to Blandford Stores for fresh berries—they were open during lockdown, and it was wonderful to go and support them. I would then mash the lot together with a fork. It’s wonderful, filling, and low-carb, so perfect for me. Giancarlo: I like to go up to Orrery’s deli and enjoy their lovely pastries. Fresh air Katie: The St Marylebone churchyard is often overlooked, but going there in the summer and sitting on the benches is just lovely. You can relax and ponder, and doing that helps you a lot. I like walking around Marylebone in general, though, because we have been here for so long—
24 years. I always meet someone I know. Coffee Katie: To be honest, we always like our own coffee here at Caldesi in Marylebone. It’s Kimbo coffee, a Neapolitan brand. I am a really fussy coffee drinker, and our staff know just how I like it: I always have an americano with double cream. A new outfit Katie: Sixty 6 is a little dress shop on Bulstrode Street, owned by the really nice, interesting lady who had a shop right up the top of the high street for many years. Her clothes are lovely—they are all her designs—and she has been in Marylebone for such a long time. I bought a scarf for my son from there the other day.
I go into La Fromagerie, sometimes for ingredients but mainly for inspiration—I find it inspiring to simply see the produce and think about what’s in season
Drinks Katie: We visited Purl recently and loved it. I’d love to go back there with the family. Giancarlo: 108 Bar. It makes Marylebone Lane look a bit like Paris, with the umbrellas out on the street. Eating out Katie: I think we’d go to Fairuz, the Middle Eastern grill, with the family. He is really friendly, always remembers us, and of course the food is totally different to what we do. Eating in Katie: My favourite day is Sunday for the farmers’ market. We like to buy pumpkins from there. I also go into La Fromagerie, sometimes for ingredients but mainly for inspiration—I find it inspiring to simply see the produce and think about what’s in season.
14. Grand designers
GRAND DESIGNERS Three of Maryleboneâ€™s most knowledgeable design experts on the unsung British designers whose work they admire INTERVIEWS: CLARE FINNEY
15. Grand designers Menton three-seater sofa, by Matthew Hilton for The Conran Shop
16. Grand designers Martin Hunt By Corin Mellor, director of David Mellor Martin Hunt is one of the most famous designers you have never heard of. Very few people know who he is and yet I think everybody will have eaten from one of his dishes. If you went to the ceramics department of the V&A, you’d recognise many of the shapes in the modern post-war collection of plates and bowls—the majority of those are his. He was hugely influential: a former pupil and then tutor at the Royal College of Art and a royal designer for industry, which you can only be if you’ve done a lot of good design.
Even if you haven’t heard of Martin Hunt, you might have heard of Queensbury Hunt. For 52 years he and his business partner David Queensbury really were the design gurus of the century. They were the designers behind the designers, designing for Habitat, John Lewis, Tom Rosenthal, Portmeirion—you name it. One of the secrets to their success, one of Hunt’s real attributes, was in getting handmade design into mass volume, which he did very successfully. Like me, Hunt worked very closely with manufacturers, making sure production was right, even when manufacturing moved out to the Far East. He was very old school: he made
Rosenthal Thomas Loft porcelain, by Martin Hunt
17. Grand designers
Martin Hunt is one of the most famous designers you have never heard of. Very few people know who he is and yet I think everybody will have eaten from one of his dishes
clay prototypes and a lot of his tableware designs were very much based on the food that would be served on them—he was a pioneer of the square plate, for example. I knew him quite well because he was an old friend of my parents, and while I am not an out-and-out ceramics designer, I was very much influenced by him. He died a few years ago, but he never looked his age. He had quite a boyish face and always wore a white shirt with jeans and a blue jacket. He never stopped talking— once you got into conversation with him you were there for a while. The range we stock at David Mellor is probably his most famous: a vast range he designed for
Rosenthal that was entirely about food and having specific shapes for specific dishes. The idea is that it covers eating from around the world. It has this incredibly subtle decoration on it. It was designed back in 2000 and we’ve been stocking it for 20 years. It just goes on and on. He really was one of the best shape designers of all time—one of the great British designers, really. I don’t think he ever minded being an unsung hero; perhaps his thinking was his name was in the shape and it was that that mattered, rather than his name on the bottom. DAVID MELLOR 14 New Cavendish Street, W1G 8UW davidmellordesign.com
18. Grand designers Chair by Fred Rigby
19. Grand designers Fred Rigby By Paul de Zwart, director of Another Country Though we have our showroom in Marylebone and many of our customers are city dwellers, we have from the start wanted to bring the countryside to the city. We concentrate on natural materials, produce sustainably, and create what we call ‘contemporary craftware’. By that we mean craftware that is fit for the modern consumer, but has a foot in traditional making; that celebrates beautiful proportions and materials, rather than unnecessary frills. In the 21st century, the urban environment can often be lacking in natural materials: there’s a lot of modern laminates and concretes in new builds these days, so I want to bring those to the urban environment. Yet at the same time, we want to bring a kind of urban sensibility to the countryside as well. We have had a number of different collections since we opened in 2010. We’ve had collections that are more design driven, those that are more urban, but for our 10th year it made sense to us to really go back to our beginnings as a brand. Our origins are in the West Country. We still have a workshop there, so we think of that as being where we
hail from. A few years ago, I ended up sitting next to Fred Rigby at a designer’s dinner and discovered that he was from the West Country too, and that he channels that into his work. It made sense to design our 10th anniversary collection with him. There’s a certain style to Fred’s work, inspired by nature and organic forms. You will see his work in the Francis Gallery on Crawford Street and at Leroy restaurant in Shoreditch, for example. While in the past we’ve let our designers have fairly free rein, we really wanted to work collaboratively with Fred— to really channel the brand in the collection—and that took some refining. It’s taken a year and a half to develop the three pieces that will make up our anniversary range, though we will do more in due course. The collection is called Modern Farmhouse and though Fred’s work can be quite urbane, he was really able to draw upon his personal history, his West Country surroundings. Though we are a young brand compared to some of our contemporaries, we have a particular provenance and a clear set of values which are all about embracing the art of making. We like to hark back to archetypal shapes. We’ve done three pieces for Modern Farmhouse so far: a settle, which is a long wooden
bench not very common today, but is good for seating and storage; a low occasional chair, also known as a slipper chair, as ladies would have used it to take their stockings off, for the bedroom; and a bench with shelves above it, fit for the hallway. I think what Fred has created is furniture that is contemporary, but speaks of a different time, and of the countryside. I wouldn’t say they are timeless pieces: timelessness can only be proven by the passing of time, but I hope they suit the modern customer while having an enduring quality. ANOTHER COUNTRY 18 Crawford Street, W1H 1BT anothercountry.com
I think what Fred has created is furniture that is contemporary, but speaks of a different time, and of the countryside. I hope they suit the modern customer while having an enduring quality
20. Grand designers Matthew Hilton By Campbell Thompson, head of furniture and lighting at The Conran Shop All of the designers we work with at The Conran Shop have the idea of timelessness as a core part of their aesthetic. We don’t go in for superfluous detail; for us, good design is as much about functionality. Matthew Hilton is one of the most significant designers we work with and he strikes that balance, designing honest, simple products that resonate with quality and design thinking. He also treads the line between innovative and interesting, and commercial— which is what we all want. Severn extending dining table, by Matthew Hilton for The Conran Shop
Today, Matthew is well known in the furniture industry, with designs in the V&A and in the Geffrye Museum in London. It hasn’t always been the case, however: his first job out of university was making models for architects and he even worked at a computer company. Then Sheridan Coakley came across some of his work at an exhibition and he started designing for her company, SCP Limited. It was the Balzac chair which he designed for them, and which Sir Terence Conran spotted at the Cologne furniture fair, that really precipitated his meteoric rise. It was the chair to have for many years, and is still selling today. We work with many internationally recognised and respected designers,
all of whom are different and have different qualities. What I value in Matthew is his maturity: he’s a little bit older, a little bit wiser. Having served as head of design at Habitat when it was at its peak, he also has great commercial awareness. He always wants to understand the DNA of the products that are selling well for us; to understand and think about a product’s usability and lifestyle. In the time I have been working here I have come to really appreciate the probing questions he asks and the slow, sure methodical way in which he works. Everything Matthew does is underpinned by how customers today live their lives, and by his commercial understanding.
21. Grand designers
What I value in Matthew is his maturity: he’s a little bit older, a little bit wiser. In the time I have been working here I have come to really appreciate the probing questions he asks and the slow, sure methodical way in which he works
He knows about producing at volume. I’ve been on factory visits with him to northern Italy a couple of times. He has longstanding relationships with manufacturers there and his understanding of that process also informs his designs. Matthew has introduced three sofa models with us, all with very particular briefs. The third was called Menton and we spent a lot of time and investment on the frame and on producing software for the website that allowed customers to choose what fabric they wanted and how loosely they wanted it fitted. Matthew always likes to explore the extent to which we can give customers a degree of choice. We have introduced two tables with him
too: one is called the Hyde; the other, called Severn, is an extending table. Matthew has a small team now—we aren’t just working with one designer. That’s good because Matthew has a high level of interest in detail and in the mechanics of different materials—he is always looking at interesting connections and patterns. You’ll see that across his work. I look at products Matthew produced 10 years ago and don’t think they’ve aged: I can certainly see products he is producing for us now being regarded as vintage pieces in the future. THE CONRAN SHOP 55 Marylebone High Street, W1U 5HS conranshop.co.uk
22. Feeding frenzy
City Harvest takes surplus food from retailers and food service businesses and makes it available to charities that provide meals for vulnerable people who might otherwise go hungry: a constituency that is currently growing at an alarming pace. Its founder Laura Winningham talks to the Journal about the ever-growing urgency of the charity’s mission WORDS: ELLIE COSTIGAN
Food has been at the forefront of the public consciousness since the outbreak of Covid-19. First it was empty supermarket shelves and ‘panic buying’. Then it was the closure of restaurants, which in turn disrupted supply chains, putting a strain on producers and causing masses of food waste—tragic stories of brewers emptying their casks and dairy farmers pouring away litres upon litres of milk became regular news. Swiftly afterwards, the devastating impact of lockdown and coronavirus on the vulnerable became painfully apparent, with a lack of fruit and veg pickers at one end of the chain and increased hunger caused by reduced food access at the other. Indeed, even
Before Covid (if we can remember such a time), food felt more political than it perhaps ever had previously in our lifetimes, with Britain’s imminent exit from the EU and subsequent need to find a trade deal causing us to reflect on the sorts of food standards we expect, be it animal welfare or support for farmers. The real tragedy here is that these issues aren’t new: the virus simply highlighted and exacerbated them, along with the fragility of our food system, forcing our attention to the very real problems of food waste and poverty, prevalent both here in the capital and countrywide. City Harvest, The Portman Estate’s new three-year corporate charity partner
and one of the biggest redistributors of food surplus in London, has— unsurprisingly—never been busier. But its mission to save surplus food from being dumped in landfill and instead redirect it to those who need it most was relevant long before the coronavirus struck. “My husband and I launched City Harvest six years ago. It was more of a project at the beginning—we had no idea it would turn into something the scale of which it is today,” says CEO Laura Winningham. “I’m from New York and there, food rescue has been going on for 30 years. I knew about it, I supported it—did some fundraising for it—but when I moved
23. Feeding frenzy
24. Feeding frenzy to London, I realised few people were doing it. I found someone with a van and someone willing to drive it. Whole Foods Kensington and a couple of Nando’s restaurants gave us food, which we donated to one or two charities. Now, we have 14 vans and to date, we’ve delivered the equivalent of around 12 million meals.” When Covid struck, the number of meals those City Harvest vans were delivering each day doubled, from 15,000 to 30,000. “It’s because of demand,” Laura explains. “We’re business to business; we’re not handing food out to people, we’re bringing food to charities. We’ve been delivering more to those charities because the demand has doubled—tripled even. When people come off furlough, we’re expecting a surge.” Lockdown might have eased, enabling more of us to get to the shops (whose supplies are for the most part back to pre-Covid levels) and at least see humans in person rather than through a screen, but the ripple effect of that period is already being felt. For some, particularly older adults and those with medical conditions, the fear of catching the virus is still very real, rendering the fact they’re now deemed ‘safe’ to go out by the government irrelevant: many do not feel safe. For others, the financial strain imposed by Covid thanks to thousands of workers being furloughed on 80 per cent of their pay and many either not
We’re not garbage collectors. Just because people are impoverished, that doesn’t mean they want to eat your garbage. That’s a conversation I often have to have
qualifying for government support or losing their jobs altogether is far from resolved. What’s more, as Laura alluded to, the end of the furlough scheme in October could signal the loss of many more jobs for those businesses still unable to pay staff or indeed, keep running at all. When I speak to Laura in mid-August, demand is already outstripping supply. “Demand is skyrocketing. We need more food and more funding.” Of course, what we really need is less surplus food and fewer people living with food poverty in the first place. Covid-19 has created a new set of problems for the medically vulnerable and older adults, who previously would have had no problem accessing food,
but many others were already in a precarious or outright dire position. Had there not been so many people teetering on the edge or indeed living in poverty in the first place, the impact of the pandemic might not have been so devastating. The food waste picture is little better: a report from WRAP earlier this year estimated that in 2018, around 9.5 million tonnes of food was wasted in the UK, of which 70 per cent was intended to be eaten by people (the remaining 30 per cent being inedible food waste). This is not only disastrous in the context of the many people who also went hungry, but is also an environmental catastrophe. Sending this amount
25. Feeding frenzy of food to landfill generates around 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. While the majority of waste comes from within UK households, a significant proportion can be attributed to the food manufacture, retail and hospitality sectors. “It will take the next generation of people, who are more conscious about the planet and climate change, to be running these organisations for surplus to be redistributed by default,” says Laura. “Right now, for many people this still isn’t a priority. We need to put more pressure on them to do the right thing. When investing in food companies, shareholders should be asking, ‘What are you doing with your surplus?’” It might seem a no-brainer for businesses to find a good use for their surplus rather than simply chuck it in the bin, but the logistics of it are much more complex than you might first think. For a start, all surplus food must be separated and checked for quality. “Most of our partners are regular so we have a good relationship and it’s a known thing that we only take edible and, indeed, safe foods. Sometimes back at the depot we have to sort through this stuff and take out something that might have expired, but in general, our partners know what food is expected. However, on occasion we get a new partner and they give us their waste and we say, ‘I think you’ve misunderstood. We’re
It will take the next generation of people, who are more conscious about the planet and climate change, to be running these organisations for surplus to be redistributed by default
not garbage collectors. Just because people are impoverished, that doesn’t mean they want to eat your garbage.’ That’s a conversation I have to have, though more tactfully than that! We are all about health and safety. We have refrigerated vans. Back at our depot we have chiller units and freezer units. It’s a charity, but we run it like a business.” Then there’s the tricky task of getting the right food to the right people. “It’s very complicated because we don’t know what food we’re getting, or in what quantity,” Laura explains. “Also, each of our charities has different needs—some are halal, some vegetarian, some kosher—and we’re getting ad hoc calls throughout the day. Even though the drivers have an app telling them where to go, it doesn’t tell them what food they’ve collected to drop off there. They have to work on the fly. And that’s why our drivers are really important. They have the knowledge of the charities they visit daily and what kinds of foods they want and don’t want. It’s complex and that’s why food companies can’t really be blamed for not doing it on their own: they need to give it to an organisation like City Harvest, which has that knowledge base. That’s why we exist.” Undoubtedly, the need to get food to people who would otherwise go hungry, particularly in an emergency situation such as the pandemic, is great; redistributing surplus food to
those people is logical, killing two birds with one stone. But surplus food does not solve food poverty, nor does the admirable job City Harvest does in reducing the amount of surplus that goes to landfill excuse us of the task of getting to the root causes of food waste. “First and foremost, waste should be reduced. We’re not saying keep the waste up because there’s hungry people to feed,” Laura agrees. “But there will always be surplus, because no one can ever perfect the art of ordering or predicting demand. Our point is that if it exists, use it smartly.” CITY HARVEST 020 7041 8491 cityharvest.org.uk
KINDNESS IS POWERFUL 22nd—24th SEPTEMBER City Harvest’s Kindness is Powerful exhibition will be shown at the Autumn Graze Market in Portman Square, telling personal stories about its work, accompanied by photos by Andrew McLeay. Autumn Graze Market Portman Square Gardens bakerstreetq.co.uk
26. Street fighting men
STREET FIGHTING MEN
How a bitter bout of class warfare prevented the application of helpful clarity to Maryleboneâ€™s street names WORDS: TOM HUGHES
27. Street fighting men
28. Street fighting men In 1971, an American writer had a caution for his countrymen who might wish to explore the precincts of Marylebone: “You are walking along James Street. All of a sudden it’s Mandeville Place, which becomes Thayer Street, which becomes Marylebone High Street, and you’ve never turned a corner.” Nearly half a century later, that same perplexing succession of names for what appears to be the exact same street has not changed. Many of today’s residents and merchants would probably appreciate the whole stretch being known as Marylebone High Street, such is that famous shopping street’s current cache, but less than a century ago their predecessors stared down the once almighty London County Council to prevent such a simplification taking place. Once upon a quaint old time, Marylebone was terra incognita—a small village in the fields somewhere north of “the Oxford Street”, whose high street was connected to the West End only by Marylebone Lane, a twisting path that followed the often fetid stream of the Tyburn river. It was in the second half of the 18th century that Marylebone’s transformation from semi-rural backwater to densely populated extension of London really hit its straps, thanks to the transformative zeal of The Portman Estate, which dominated the western side of the neighbourhood, and The Portland Estate (as The Howard de Walden Estate was then known) to the east. But these two aristocratic holdings, while close to each other, didn’t tessellate perfectly. Between them sat a number of much smaller pockets of land, owned by a mix of families and institutions. Starting in the 1770s, one of these islands, known as Little Conduit Close, was built upon by the local couple that owned it, Jacob and Anne Hinde, resulting in the construction of Hinde Street and Thayer Street, which took their respective family names. Thayer Street—an extension to the high street—was never too grand, merely a respectable terrace of Georgian storefronts, with rooms over the shop.
By comparison, the next bit, Mandeville Place, was a grand Victorian development. From the start, this was a street with airs and graces: its name was chosen for its association with the nearby and highly salubrious Manchester Square—Viscount Mandeville is one of the titles taken by the Duke of Manchester—and its buildings were designed to reflect the grandeur of the area’s more upmarket enclaves, rather than the somewhat utilitarian architecture of the high street. It retains its high class appeal today. Modern architectural historians will tell us that if walkers wish to stop staring at their mobiles for a second and look up, they will enjoy the “highly decorative roofscape” of a stretch of buildings “constructed of red brick with stone dressings with a French style mansard”. Now, mansards are all well and good but you won’t find any on James Street—the final stretch of macadam linking the old Marylebone Village to Oxford Street. Compared with Mandeville Place, James Street was decidedly common: both in its architecture and in its name. Have you ever stopped to count how many James Streets, Roads, Terraces, Closes, Places, and Lanes there are in Greater London? Don’t even think of adding in those named for the blessed St James. You may not have counted them but the London County Council did (or at least tried to). That’s why, in 1936, the socialist-controlled council resolved to do something about this vexing, confusing aspect of London’s street names. A grand list of proposed name changes was submitted to the population living under its benign charge and, as almost always will happen, what was the bureaucrat’s reward? A raspberry. In few places was the chorus of disapproval as loud as it was in Marylebone over the LCC’s plans to pull down the street signs from Thayer Street, Mandeville Place and James Street. From now on, the council decreed, everything from Marylebone Road to Oxford Street
would re-named Marylebone High Street and re-numbered accordingly. The planning boffins thought this made eminent sense, as the four streets formed a direct northsouth route and the streetscapes were “more or less uniform”. The Times, however, reported that the LCC’s plan was in for, well, a difficult road: “While geographically simple, it is strongly objected to by residents.” A good deal of the opposition came from the denizens of Mandeville Place who, from behind their rococo battlements, could hardly agree that any uniformity existed between their grand addresses and the ironmongers and chemists to their north and south. Mandeville Place had become home to many members of the medical profession, who strongly felt that the tone of their address was essential to place them on the same plane as their exalted colleagues on nearby Harley and Wimpole Streets. To suddenly have to change out their meticulously polished bronze doorplates and expensive embossed stationery and replace it with something as tatty as “Marylebone High Street” was, to them, utterly unthinkable. What mandarin of medicine could hope to attract the right patients to a surgery beset with such “a clumsy and unattractive name suited only to a shopping street”? The opposition forces mobilised quickly—Mr C Rodmell, secretary of The Trinity College of Music (on the corner of Mandeville Place and Hinde Street, in the Grade II listed building now occupied by the School of Economic Science) offered the school’s performance hall for a protest meeting. It was well-attended. Dr Taylor Milton said he spoke for all his Mandevillian colleagues and declared their adamant opposition to the re-naming proposal. The snobs of Mandeville Place weren’t the only rebels. It was also clear that the new name found little support from the shopkeepers along Thayer and James Streets. Mr CE Paul, of James Street, estimated that 98 per cent of his neighbouring
29. Street fighting men
Opposition came from the denizens of Mandeville Place who, from behind their rococo battlements, could see no uniformity between their grand addresses and the ironmongers and chemists to the north and south
merchants opposed the change to Marylebone High Street. As he said, James Street enjoyed a reputation of being convenient to “the Ladies’ Mile” on Oxford Street and just a few steps from the fashionable Bond Street tube station. To be now burdened with the “Marylebone” name would confuse their upper crust clientele who would likely now associate them with the much grittier Marylebone Road and the hectic Baker Street Underground. Horrors. Beyond the class conscious Mr Paul, other merchants expressed their displeasure for the rather more mundane reasons of cost: the expensive business of having to change their billing addresses,
rubber-stamps, shopping bags and “other paraphernalia of the retail trade”. Let history record the voice of Mr B Denton, who from the distant Marylebone High Street toddled down to the protest meeting to express his support for the LCC’s plan. Denton said that a thriving extended high street would be a boon to the entire Marylebone community. Property values would rise. The existing higgledy-piggledy nomenclature was intolerable and an untold amount of trade was lost simply from people not knowing how to get there from Oxford Street. To try to give anyone directions was a recipe for confusion. Why, Denton
bravely asked, could people not see that Marylebone High Street “is a far more dignified name than four driblets of names”? The Times reported that Mr Denton’s doughty appeal was “interrupted with dissent”. In the end, the vote was not in doubt. The meeting ended with the overwhelming passage of a resolution opposing the LCC’s scheme. The opposition in Marylebone was matched elsewhere throughout the vast domain of the London County Council. Accused of acting from “a wave of misplaced energy”, the council had taken its remit to go about London expunging centuries-old street names of local significance. Henry Berry, the council’s embattled director of town planning, defended the action, which he insisted was not being done out of “sheer wantonness”. Instead, he said the Fire Brigade and the Post Office had pleaded that something be done at last about London’s baffling maze of changing street names and the muddle of duplicate—nay, sextuplicate—names. In the end, the council won the wider war: from Westminster to West Ham, hundreds of streets were re-named. But the council lost a few battles along the way, and these included the one in Marylebone. As a result, the names of James Street, Mandeville Place and Thayer Street can still be found neatly lined up on your maps app or in the index pages of a well-thumbed A-to-Z. Marylebone did suffer the loss of one or two historic names. For instance, George Street, from Gloucester Place to the Edgware Road, used to be called “Upper George Street”. The council, in its wisdom, declared that the length of the street be uniformly known as George Street. Critics said that the old socialist gang that ruled the council went about London taking special egalitarian glee in removing as many “Uppers” as they could.
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The Journal hits the road with Carlo Scotto of Xier to visit two of the farms that supply him and discover why the creation of a great menu doesnâ€™t start in the kitchen WORDS: VIEL RICHARDSON IMAGES: ORLANDO GILI / VIEL RICHARDSON
32. Source materials “You want it to be a rollercoaster of flavours and emotions,” says Carlo Scotto, chef proprietor of Xier, explaining his approach to creating a tasting menu. “This is sharp. This is sour. This is sweet. There is something here I can’t quite place.” It should be, he continues, a journey with excitement and surprises, twists and turns. “You want the diner’s taste buds to be on the edge with anticipation as well as satisfaction. When the meal is finished, they should feel that they have been guided through a wonderful experience.” When Carlo speaks about food, which he does a lot, he draws you deep into the warm, colourful world of his culinary imagination—a feeling entirely at odds with the scenes unfolding in the real world around us. We are in a car heading to East Anglia to visit one of his suppliers, it is early in the morning, still dark, and the weather is, quite frankly, grim. As we drive, Carlo expands on his approach to cooking and why he often takes time out of his busy schedule to visit the producers whose ingredients he uses. “It’s fascinating to make these trips. I get to understand much more clearly where the products are coming from and what it takes to produce the level of ingredients I need to cook the way I do.” Dan Barber, the American chef, journalist and vocal campaigner for agricultural reform, wrote in his book The Third Plate: “Whenever you work your way backwards from a really delicious plate of food you always end up with great farmers, using good farm practices.” It is a view with which Carlo wholeheartedly agrees. “Great food starts long before I see an ingredient,” he says. “My food is about the farmer, the supplier, as well as my chefs and the front-of-house staff. Some people—including some chefs—think that the creativity and invention starts in the kitchen. But this is not the case.” When we eventually arrive at our destination, Poplar Farm, it feels a long way from Marylebone. We are met by Paul Hammond, owner of the farm. As we trudge through the mud to see his hereford and aberdeen angus cows, the first thing he does
is apologise for the conditions—the result of several weeks of rain. “The cows would normally be outdoors, but we have had to bring them in to keep them healthy,” says Paul, the fifth generation of his family to run this farm (his son is shaping up to be the sixth). “We try to keep the cattle out on the grass for as long as possible, but the ground is so sodden that we have had to bring most of them inside. We have a few hardy breeds that are alright in this weather, but not all can cope.” The move is also needed for the health of the pasture. “We have really good grass here, it’s one of the reasons we can produce high quality meat, but we have to take care of it. If we let the cows out into the fields while the underlying soil is this wet, they could churn whole pastures up and it could take the grass two years to recover.” One of the things Paul’s family has focused on for generations is the cultivation of grass—an aspect of livestock farming that often goes unseen by the wider public. Weather permitting, the cattle will have two summers out on the grass. “We then bring them indoors, where they are fed on a winter feed called ‘haylage’, made by fermenting straw in those big black plastic sacks you often see in fields. The haylage helps develop the marbling of fat through the meat that the chefs want.” This guarantees the best of both worlds: the grass contributes to a wonderful depth of flavour and the fat that develops as a result of the haylage keeps the meat tender while cooking. “We have a moral duty to give the animals the best life we can, but there are financial considerations as well,” Paul explains. “It is a cliché, but livestock that has enjoyed a good, stress-free life produces better meat. Healthy cattle need room to move around, plenty of fresh air and some shelter.” Carlo asks if all the beef he buys comes from cattle born on the farm. Paul says that some calves are brought in from trusted breeders, a practice that helps keep the gene pool large and the herd healthy. “These are the stories that I think should be more widely known,” says Carlo, as we drive back to Xier for evening service.
It’s fascinating to make these trips. I get to understand much more clearly where the products are coming from and what it takes to produce the level of ingredients I need to cook the way I do
33. Source materials Left: Carlo Scotto at Poplar Farm Bottom: Carlo with Alan Miller of Nurtured in Norfolk
34. Source materials Carlo with Alan Miller of Nurtured in Norfolk
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There is a complexity about the relationship between plants and the soil that we don’t fully understand, but I firmly believe it gets the best results. Growing in soil allows the plants to take what they need when they need it
“The fact that five generations of Paul’s family have farmed there has an almost physical presence; you can feel his attachment to the animals and the land. Hearing about things like the haylage, understanding where the flavour is coming from, is great.” A few days later, Carlo and I are on the road again. This time, on a mercifully sunny day, we find ourselves standing in a large, bright greenhouse surrounded by flat trays. Nurtured in Norfolk, another of Xier’s suppliers, produces microherbs, regular herbs, edible flowers and baby vegetables. “We started in my back garden, growing microherbs in the garden shed for the restaurant where I worked at the time,” says Alan Miller, who cofounded the company with wife Sue in 2010. “The feedback we got was amazing. The waiters were coming back saying that the customers were loving the herbs. We knew we were on to something.” Now the company grows a wide range of products, informed in part by Alan’s previous life as a chef. “It’s about understanding what might be useful to chefs,” he explains. “For example, the amaranth flower wasn’t really a commercial product when we started. But I remember seeing it flowering and thought, chefs might like that. And they did. Now it is a great seller for both chefs and bar managers.”
Unlike many large-scale producers, which use hydroponic systems, Nurtured in Norfolk grows its produce in soil. “Our primary concern is the flavour profile of what we grow: its aroma, depth and visual impact,” Alan says. “That is why we grow in soil, despite the problems with pests, fungus, diseases and crop failures that growing this way creates. There is a complexity about the relationship between plants and the soil that we don’t fully understand, but I firmly believe it gets the best results. Growing in soil allows the plants to take what they need when they need it. For me, this is preferable to creating a feed recipe which tries to replicate it in hydroponic growing systems.” Growing such a wide range of plants has meant trying to find a growing medium that meets many different demands. “It took us a long time to find the system that we have now. You will never find something that will fulfil all of your desires, but the majority of plants thrive in the soil we now use,” Alan explains. “Even so, we have to intimately know the dynamics of each greenhouse: the lie of the land, where the sun is at particular times of the year, the highest and lowest points it reaches in the sky, where it rises and sets, where the hottest and coolest parts of the greenhouse are at peak times of the day. We have to make sure each tray is in the best conditions for the plant
growing in it.” The growers in the greenhouses essentially play a giant game of Tetris. It’s time consuming and difficult, but Alan says it’s worth it. “Ultimately I have to be true to myself as a chef, so every growing decision we make is driven by the quality of the product.” Back in Xier’s kitchen, Carlo talks me through the dish on his tasting menu that features produce from the two farms we have visited: beef cheek, pickled beetroot, collard greens and bone marrow. It is a simplesounding combination—just a few ingredients on a plate—but in the world of fine dining, simple is a world away from easy. “The beef cheek is braised with Italian red wine for eight hours on a very low temperature,” Carlo explains. “The bone marrow is slightly cooked; the toasted breadcrumbs seasoned with orange, lemon and anchovies. The sauce is a reduction, made using the liquid the beef has been braised in, with added grapes to give some sweetness.” On the side of the dish is a bouquet made of Alan’s edible herbs and flowers. “I wanted to give the customer a way of mopping up sauce without using bread. Some people cannot eat it and I did not want them to miss out. It is very fresh, aromatic and complements the sauce. You eat the whole thing. It has been a real success. In fact, we have had people asking the waiting staff if they could
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have another bouquet before the end of the meal.” The key thing here is that the herb bouquet is not treated as an extra. Carlo loved the idea, but it had to earn its place on the plate in terms of flavour and texture, as well as being useful and bringing a sense of fun. When I ask where the idea for the dish came from, Carlo ponders his answer for nearly a minute. “To answer that, we have to look at the whole tasting menu because everything is connected. The menu celebrates cultures from different parts of the world. Beef represents Great Britain,” he eventually explains. “We thought of other produce, but we always kept coming back to the beef. And it is where the hard work starts.” The beef was initially braised for two hours, but the texture was not what the chef wanted, so he tried it for five, seven and eight hours. “At this point it was actually falling apart. I didn’t need the knife to cut it, but the meat was still pink inside. Thinking out of the box for me is the only way to achieve something new. For a future dish I might try 10 hours.” For a moment, as he imagines what that 10-hour braise would be like, it’s almost like I’m not there. “There is so much to discover. I think we maybe understand 10 per cent of what there is to know. How does it react to different techniques? What combinations work? How far can you push something?”
There is a poster on the wall in the kitchen at Xier that includes the phrase: “Love and passion are for the family. My cooking is about obsession!” As Carlo explains the development of the beetroot component of the dish, that poster sounds increasingly apt. “We cooked the beetroot and pickled it in different ways. I found a pickle I liked, but wanted more from it. I decided to put it through a juicer, then make a fluid gel from the juice. I liked the result but it wasn’t there yet, so I blended the gel into a puree. At one point I laid out all the different stages of the beetroot preparation for the chefs to taste and the pureed gel was the unanimous winner. That is what appears on the final dish. There were so many trials along the way, but it was worth it for the end result.” With so much work going into one aspect of one dish on a 10-course menu, it is easy to see why the quality of ingredients is so important to chefs like Carlo. After all, you are not going to put in all that effort for just any old beetroot. “Cooking should be a constant evolution of the relationship between the techniques and ingredients. Why can’t I pickle, puree and gel the same thing? It is very experimental and I can promise you that sometimes our results are awful. But experimentation with techniques and ingredients is the only way you progress and develop your own style.” Carlo plates up the dish and lays it
Cooking should be a constant evolution of the relationship between techniques and ingredients. It is very experimental and sometimes our results are awful. But experimenting with ingredients is the only way you progress
on the table in front of me. It smells delicious and looks hugely tempting. It strikes me just how many people have worked incredibly hard to produce this delicate offering. In the world of fine dining, the food on a plate is only the tip of the iceberg. “We must never forget that the diner is at the heart of everything,” Carlo says as the photographer snaps away. “The goal is to give them the best experience possible. It is about showing respect for everyone who walks through the door. An empty plate and a happy customer is where I find real gratification.” XIER 13-14 Thayer Street, W1U 3JR xierlondon.com
U M T N U A GRAZE MARKET 22 / 23 / 24 SEPTEMBER 12:00 â€“ 20:30 Favourite food from your local restaurants, pubs and cafes alongside a programme of wellbeing events to make you feel good.
QA ANDY MURTON The actor and Daunt Books bookseller on the importance of books during the Covid-19 crisis, his very British road movie, and the travails of independent filmmaking INTERVIEW: JEAN-PAUL AUBIN-PARVU PORTRAIT: ORLANDO GILI
Andy Murton has more than one string to his bow. Marylebone’s avid bookworms may recognise him from Daunt Books, where he expertly guides customers towards that must-have page-turner. But Andy is also a professional actor. His latest film, Above The Clouds, is available across various on-demand platforms including iTunes, Prime Video and Google Play. How did you end up working as a bookseller at Daunt Books? Over the years I’ve done a variety of jobs alongside my acting, like most actors do. At the beginning of 2018, I found myself in a position where I thought, I really want a job that’s important to me and fulfils me in the same way that my acting does. I went for hundreds of interviews and just became really disillusioned by it. When Daunt Books came up, I thought it sounded great. They don’t usually employ actors, because they’re looking for people who will commit and see bookselling as a career choice. We had a lengthy discussion and I told them that I wanted a job for life. I’m not looking for any great success with my acting. What I’m looking to do is to take control of it and do things that are important and appropriate for me. And in the same way, I wanted a job that was important and appropriate for me. That’s what Daunt’s has given me. It’s been a real blessing. Describe the working life there. In essence, everybody who works here is a bookseller. We sell books and we
recommend books. The shop floor is the most important thing, because that’s where we generate the business and build relationships with our customers. What gives Daunt Books its name is the customer service, and we take great care in making sure that everybody is very well looked after. We find that this personal approach to bookselling is what makes Daunt’s unique. When a customer comes in and asks about a certain subject, there will be at least one or two people working here who will have an interest and expertise in that subject and who will be happy to look after that customer. That just creates a really great experience. You must be developing a wide knowledge about books. I was a keen reader before, but coming to work at a bookshop all of a sudden, the whole world is opened up to you. What was lovely about starting here was asking staff members for book recommendations— books which I’d probably never heard of and would never have thought of reading—and then from those authors you find out about other authors, and so on. Unfortunately, my pile of books at home is now just ridiculous. If you appeared on Desert Island Discs, what book would you pick? That’s a tricky one. I think it would be a work of fiction, and possibly something by Charles Dickens. I couldn’t say what, specifically. I did a lot of research into Charles Dickens before playing him in a role. He was a fascinating man. I
also read his work, which is quite timeless, and what I love most about it is the storytelling. That’s also really important to me as an actor. I love storytelling pieces. Have your two professional worlds ever collided? Yes, I performed a oneman show at Daunt Books in November last year. Something that I’ve always been interested in—and this harks back to Dickens—is the idea of ghost stories, and the history behind them, especially in Victorian England, when everybody would sit around the fire and tell each other ghost stories and create those atmospheres. It struck me as a great idea for a oneman show: performing ghost stories using the essence of how they were first written. And Daunt Books just seemed to be the perfect place to do it. The show was called An Evening of Classic Ghost Stories, and it went down a treat. I chose three short stories from the Victorian and Edwardian periods, one of which was quite aptly Dickens’s The Signalman. That was always top of my list—it had to be in there. What was the impact of lockdown at Daunt? Leading up to it there was a lot of uncertainty. It was just a really unsteady month and we were all in limbo. Daunt Books took advantage of the furlough scheme, because that was the only way they could keep things going. The management team got together to work out how to enable the business to keep going, and our online
In essence, everybody who works here is a bookseller. We sell books and we recommend books. The shop floor is the most important thing, because thatâ€™s where we generate the business and build relationships with our customers
presence was obviously the way to go. After a couple of days of deliberation they started asking the staff who they knew had a safe way of getting into work how they felt about continuing to come in to deal with the online and telephone orders. It meant a small team of us operating from the Marylebone store. The beauty of that shop is there’s lots of space. We could all work safely, with just three or four of us in the building at any one time, carefully following the guidelines. Was there a good response from customers? Our customers were fantastic. We had lots of people phoning us asking what was happening. They were so happy to hear that they could still buy from us either online or over the telephone. Obviously,
things were being delayed, including postal services, so when we were sending books out it could be a lengthy process, but what was lovely was our customers were very understanding. They realised we were operating under difficult circumstances and were doing all we could to fulfil orders. They were very supportive and just very happy that we were still operating as an independent bookstore. We were incredibly busy, but it was a nice way to keep the brain occupied during a difficult time. What was it like coming into central London during lockdown? Have you ever seen the film 28 Days Later? It had that kind of vibe going on. The streets were deserted and there were hardly any cars.
It was eerily quiet as I drove to work, but at the same time it was quite a joyful experience driving on empty roads. You don’t get that very often in London. Were there any noticeable shifts in people’s reading habits? One thing that became apparent was that people were stocking up. When they couldn’t leave the
house, books were a bit of a saviour, so they bought lots of them at once! Many bought fiction and nonfiction linked to pandemics or difficult times—for example, The Plague by Albert Camus. He wrote this book just after the Second World War, with the plague used as a metaphor for the Nazi invasion. But now reading it during lockdown it was literally about a plague that hits a city and how people deal with it. Looking at it from that perspective, it was really quite interesting and very topical. On the other hand, you had people buying books to escape it all, something more lighthearted. When you reopened, how did it feel to be able to interact face to face again?
41. Culture he wanted to go against that theory. The idea is that Margate is probably the furthest point from the Isle of Skye. And as learner drivers can’t go on motorways, Charlie and Oz can only get there using A and B roads, which makes for a longer trip.
The director, Leon Chambers, saw a review that said road movies don’t work in the UK because if something were to go wrong you could simply turn around and go back, unlike in America where a road trip covers thousands of miles. He wanted to go against that theory
It felt great. The positivity we received was immense, actually—quite touching. It showed how much of a loyal customer base we have and also just how important the physical act of being able to go for a browse in a bookshop is for some people, especially after being on lockdown. It was wonderful to be able to interact with our customers and have conversations, and to hear about how much they’d missed us and how desperate they were for us to reopen. Above The Clouds is your first feature film. Set the scene for us. The film is based around Charlie, played by Naomi Morris, who on her 18th birthday discovers that the man married to her mother isn’t her real dad.
When her parents go away on holiday she has the opportunity to go in search of her biological father, but because she’s only a learner driver Charlie has to recruit a responsible adult with a driving license to sit in the passenger seat. She persuades my character, Oz, a homeless guy with a driving license, to be that responsible adult. Their journey takes them from Margate right up to the Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland. That’s quite a trek. The director, Leon Chambers, once saw a review that said road movies don’t work in the UK because if something were to go wrong you could simply turn around and go back, unlike in America where a road trip covers thousands of miles. So
When was the film shot? During the summer of 2016. We started down in Margate at the Turner Contemporary gallery, which is where the two characters originally meet. The writer and the director found out that homeless people often go to galleries and museums, because they’re free to enter and warm. Oz goes there every day and sits in front of a particular painting called Above The Clouds, hence the name of the film. We spent two to three weeks filming in Margate and around the Kent countryside and then a week up in Skye. I’d never been to Skye before. It was absolutely spectacular. What are the challenges of making an independent film on a tiny budget? A very, very tiny budget. Leon re-mortgaged his house to get the money together to make this film and then used his house for many of the scenes: a hotel room, a room above a pub in Skye, a flat above a charity shop. Leon’s living room was basically put into storage and he created a little studio set in his house. Luckily the Turner Contemporary gave us free use of the gallery on a Monday, when they’re closed for the day. We also had a great location manager sourcing out
locations for us. He’s very good at charming people and getting a great deal. Leon’s stress levels were very high, because it was all his money. In the credits for the crew, there are lots of pseudonyms of Leon’s name, because he did so many roles—that’s just how you do it on a very tight budget. Did these financial restrictions help you bond? Absolutely. Everybody mucked in and helped. One of Leon’s old school friends owns a large mobile home, and he and his wife travelled with us all the way up to Scotland—they made a holiday out of it. You know how actors talk about their trailers? Well, we had use of this mobile home on set. The shoot was a lot of fun, but at the same time there was a tight schedule and we had to ensure we didn’t stray from that too much, but it was a great few weeks to work and be on this journey together. Above The Clouds was released in January. Has the film been well received? We are getting lots of positive feedback from people as well as from online reviews. In America it’s still going strong— people are really enjoying it over there—which is nice to know. So, yes, it’s been good, and the director Leon is constantly looking at ways to promote the film and get it out there even more, lots of social media and so on, kind of plugging away with that. DAUNT BOOKS 83-84 Marylebone High Street, W1U 4QW dauntbooks.co.uk
BOOK REVIEWS WORDS: SASHA GARWOOD
ME ELTON JOHN Macmillan, £25
Elton John’s Me might be the funniest book I have ever read. Top 10, definitely. I only encountered it in the first place because my husband was reading it and had to keep stopping because he was laughing too hard. I knew absolutely nothing about Elton John, but the endless succession of recounted hilarity convinced me to read his autobiography anyway, and this was an excellent decision. For a start, it’s a fascinating history of music, showbusiness and celebrity over the past 70-odd years. Elton John seems to know everyone, from David Bowie to the Queen Mother, and probably to have been drunk with them at some point. Me not only outlines John’s progress from being Reg Dwight, climbing out of the window after fights break out in the pub where he plays, to the international superstar everybody apart from me apparently knew, but also offers personal reflections on major international events from the death of Princess Diana to the AIDS crisis and the end of apartheid in South Africa. It’s not just the stories that make Me so good (and believe me, they are excellent—from smashing up hotel rooms after 10 vodka martinis with Duran Duran to pissing George Michael off by appearing dressed as Ronald McDonald at Wham’s farewell concert) but the direct, wry, selfaware tone. Elton John understands the human consequences of his years of rock’n’roll excess and drug addiction, for himself and for those close to him, but he neither glosses over this nor indulges in extensive self-flagellation—he just tells us what happened, and lets himself, when deserved, be the butt of the joke. His turn of phrase, or perhaps that of his ghostwriter, is spectacular: a hair
transplant leaves him looking “like something that turns up towards the end of a horror film and starts strip-harvesting teenage campers with an axe”; decorating his house, he decides “to eschew Regency or Palladian decoration in favour of a style known among interior design specialists as Mid-70s Pop Star On Drugs Goes Beserk”. It’s funny because it’s true. Yet the big sad things—the deaths of numerous close friends; the decimation by AIDS of both the queer community and the music scene; alcoholism and drug addiction—are dealt with sensitively, thoughtfully and honestly. Discussions of learning to take emotional responsibility and of fatherhood are absolutely moving, John’s capacity for candour and amusement at himself is remarkable. Playing a concert in South Africa under apartheid was “a spectacularly stupid idea”; in the breakdown of his first marriage, “the problem was me”; if he “hadn’t been coked out of my head” when the Rolling Stones invited him onstage in Colorado, he might have noticed that “the expression on [Keith Richards’] face was not really one of profound musical appreciation”. For someone who specialises in excess to the point of accidently purchasing a full-size tram that has to be delivered suspended between two helicopters and then forgetting having done so, there’s a lot of amusing understatement here. Even to a reader unfamiliar with John as a musician, Me is a joy.
I LOVE THE BONES OF YOU CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON Simon & Schuster, £20
Part memoir, part meditation on his relationship with his father, Christopher Eccleston’s I Love The Bones Of You is a fascinating insight into the life and choices of one (or two) men and the pressure of negotiating working class masculinity alongside an exacting creative job that demands both your
43. Culture soul and your body. It’s a complex, messy, often painful tale, full of rage, affection, sadness, conflict and the unavoidable tragedy of human life. Eccleston starts at the end of the story, with his father in a care home with dementia, then takes us back through his childhood and career, from early memories of paternal games to his decades-long struggle with anorexia. The book (like Eccleston’s performances and, it seems, his father’s presence) simmers with emotion—fury, frustration, fear of failure, the joys and pressures of fatherhood—and a lot of that is wrapped up with the conflict between Eccleston’s admirable integrity and the pressures placed on actors in contemporary culture. He’s crystal clear that his ability to starve and exercise himself down to an arrestingly cheekboned silhouette that “made me look like I was fashioned from steel” absolutely contributed to his professional success, and the clarity with which he outlines the ongoing personal cost is both admirable and moving. Similarly, his clear-eyed appraisal of what he regards as his professional failures—“The cynical career choices I’ve made have always rebounded,” he tells us, explaining that “I was under no illusions... lost as a performer and a traitor to my true self”—is appealing in its directness and sincerity. For all the intensity of this thoughtful book about class, loyalty and identity, there’s a lot that’s both endearing and impressive about Eccleston’s honesty with himself and the reader.
THE OTHER BENNET SISTER JANICE HADLOW Mantle, £14.99
One of the joys and occasional horrors of novels as well loved and well known as Pride and Prejudice is the number of adaptations, subversions and loosely-connectedriffs-on-the-theme which emerge. Fortunately, Janice Hadlow’s The Other Bennet Sister is good—a
together Pride and Prejudice with Romantic poetry and a believable account of genteel life in the early19th century, The Other Bennet Sister makes a lovely addition to the Austen not-canon.
MIX TAPE JANE SANDERSON Black Swan, £7.99
gentle, perceptive, thoughtful redemption for one of Jane Austen’s most notorious characters. Mary Bennet has been raised by an indifferent, mocking father and a mother who prizes beauty above all else, and to both she is a constant disappointment, taking refuge in sermons and devotions because they give her an opportunity to get something right. When her sisters marry and her father dies, leaving Longbourne to the tender mercies of the Collinses, Mary has nowhere to go—her mother resides with the Bingleys, visits to the Collinses and the Darcys are both eventually unwelcome—so she takes refuge in London with the Gardiners, just as Lizzy and Jane have done before her. Welcomed into their family circle and their cultural whirl, Mary slowly begins to blossom, and maybe even to make romantic and friendly connections of her own. It’s enjoyable, heart-warming stuff. Janice Hadlow is no Jane Austen, but her writing is engaging, and her portrait of Mary’s troubled early life and difficult choices poignant and realistic. Familiar characters recur with plausibility and sometimes grace, and Hadlow builds an absorbing tale out of Mary’s gradual self-realisation. Weaving
Jane Sanderson’s Mix Tape is a gently nostalgic, ultimately optimistic tale of two people who love and lose one another and are brought together again through both the driving power of music and the difficult emotional work of being honest about emotional needs and desires. It’s just before Christmas 1978, in Sheffield. Dan and Alison, aged 18 and 16 respectively, are in the process of falling in love, through a series of house parties and family visits and sharing music. Dan is the first boy to make Alison a mix tape, back in the days when that meant something. Thirty-four years later, in Adelaide, Australia, suddenly bestselling writer Ali receives a DM on Twitter. It’s from Dan, now a music journalist, but there’s no message, just a song. She replies in kind, and the two are drawn back into a passionate connection that makes them question all the choices they’ve made in between. This kind of story is told a lot, but Mix Tape genuinely offers a fresh (and well-soundtracked) take on the One That Got Away trope. Sanderson’s portrayal of Dan and Alison’s relationship, not only with each other but with their spouses, is effective and (sometimes chillingly) plausible—Alison’s husband in particular is what my grandmother might have described as ‘a piece of work’. Both the way that people carve out spaces for themselves and how marriages crumble under the pressure of long-neglected aspects of the self are well and effectively drawn here. It’s not perfect—Sanderson has some fairly antiquated ideas about the workings of universities and the cost of living for jobbing writers in London—but it’s an enjoyable, encouraging tale.
Our chefs went and did work experience at Elkano, which back then was just a popular seaside restaurant—now it’s become the place you can’t visit San Sebastián without going to
QA NEMANJA BORJANOVIC & MELODY ADAMS The co-owners of Lurra and Donostia on Basque cuisine, hard cider and the wild response to the meat of old dairy cows INTERVIEW: ELLIE COSTIGAN IMAGES: ORLANDO GILI
How did the two of you come to open a Basque restaurant in Marylebone? Nemanja: Mel and I were working in finance and banking before opening the restaurant. We have always been foodies—ones who were prepared to drop everything and dive deep into the restaurant world. One of the biggest regrets we have is not doing the jump sooner. When you’re working in the City, you’re pretty much there because you need to pay the bills. It was a lifestyle shift—we wanted to work in food, we had a passion for it. It doesn’t feel so much like work. Mel: It was really when we discovered San Sebastián: we thought, we’ve stumbled on something special. I was unsuccessfully importing wine at the time and Mel and I were driving to a winery to get a new vintage. It was a long drive, so we thought we’d stop over in this small town that’s known for its gastronomy. We stayed in San Sebastián for one night and were shocked that, despite there being such a massive food scene in London— particularly Spanish— there was this Basque gem being overlooked. It’s very different to traditional Spanish cuisine. We started going back to San Sebastián and the surrounding regions more and more, and eventually decided that somebody should do this kind of thing in London. And it should be us. What characterises Basque cuisine? Nemanja: Few ingredients, all about sourcing, no
faffing around on the plate. You hear that a lot—“We’re all about sourcing good ingredients”—but nowhere is it truer than in the Basque Country. Many are one-ingredient dishes: the turbot, the steak, the peppers. No sauce, no nothing. You can imagine how good it’s got to be. That’s one of the key characteristics of Basque cuisine and that’s what really appealed to us, the simplicity. The region’s also known for a particular wine: txakoli. What’s special about it? Nemanja: Txakoli is only produced in a couple of regions of the Basque Country—mainly in the hills of Getaria, which is a small fishing village, famous for its turbot. The wine is unique because it has a natural spritz: you pour it into a beaker from a height, which is quite showy, to aerate it and start the fizz. You’re supposed to pour just a little bit and neck it. It’s great because it’s a low-alcohol wine, only 10 to 10.5 per cent, which these days is quite hard to find. It has this amazing lightness. It has a taste of the sea. The minerality in it is something special. It pairs well with the turbot, which we also do in Lurra. It’s a match made in heaven. The Basques are also famed for their cidermaking—tell us about that. They make the scrumpystyle, natural cloudy cider—not carbonated or sweet, more on the sour side. It’s called ‘hard cider’. The guys who do it well use 100 per cent Basque apples.
46. Food Again, it’s poured from a height to get a little bit of fizz. The tradition of the cider houses is, the farmers would bring their meat and exchange it for cider. Over time, they ended up cooking the meat in the cider house and drinking the cider there. It’s now an established gastronomic tradition, where you go to the cider house and you have the steak, you have the cod, the Basque-style chorizo—and you get pissed on the apple cider. It’s very good. As good ingredients are so clearly integral, was it difficult to find the right suppliers? Mel: We didn’t have a clue at first. The first time we went, there was a UK government travel warning because of the local terrorist group Eta, which was still semi-active. You didn’t see many tourists, other than Spanish tourists and surfers. We started talking to the restaurants that we liked, and back then, they were very approachable. One couple in particular said: “Next time you come to San Sebastián we’ll show you around.” They introduced us to one of their txakoli suppliers, who we still work with today—Elizabeth, the same lady supplying the same txakoli since we opened—their Cantabrian anchovies supplier, their beef supplier, who we now import beef from for various restaurants as well as our own. It was very open. Nemanja: Our chefs went and did work experience at Elkano, which back then was just a popular seaside restaurant—now it’s become the place you can’t
visit San Sebastián without going to. I asked if our chefs could come for two weeks and learn how to do the turbot and the sauce and it was like: “Yeah, sure. Tell them to knock on the door when they’re here and speak to so and so.” Now it’s all become very Michelin, you have to do a six-month stage. It was fantastic for our chefs. You think to cook turbot you just put it on the grill; they came back and said: “So, there are 13 steps to cook turbot the Basque way. This is how you debone it, this is how you make the secret sauce, this is how you introduce it.” They also went to La Viña, which is famous for its burnt Basque cheesecake. It’s very hard to replicate what they do there, but we give it a good go. How important is it to you that you stay true to traditional Basque recipes and techniques? Nemanja: We do as much as we can. When we were opening Donostia, we were very keen to do the pintxos thing, but we had to adapt that to the market here. There, it’s all up on the bar, with the cocktail sticks: you eat them, then take your sticks and pay for however many you’ve taken. We kind of thought if we did that here people would be thinking, how long has that been out there? And it might be perceived as canapes. So, we started doing pintxos made to order, fresh, rather than standing on the bar. We’ve adapted things slightly. We also source what we can from the UK. Our turbot is always wild from Cornwall, veg comes from the UK, predominantly.
Basque cuisine means just a few ingredients, with no faffing around on the plate. No sauce, no nothing. You can imagine how good the ingredients have got to be. That’s what really appealed to us, the simplicity.
What made you open up a second restaurant, Lurra, just over the road from Donostia? Nemanja: When we opened Donostia, we never really had any ambition to open another restaurant, but then a couple of things happened at the same time. Donostia was an instant success and very busy. We were turning a lot of people away, because the restaurant is so small— and then we discovered Galician blond meat. It comes from old dairy cows and we had never come across anything like it. We started doing the steak as a special, bringing in 20, 30 kilos, and whenever we had it on the menu people were wowed by it. It wasn’t just: “Thank you, that was a very nice steak, see ya”. It was: “Here is my business card, when you’ve got
47. Food it in again, call me.” We realised that nobody else was doing this Galician blond meat in any of the Spanish restaurants in London. But it was difficult to do it in Donostia: you’ve got a small plancha and when you’ve got three steaks on it, everything else is on hold. Then we saw The Portman Estate, our landlord, doing up this site. There’s a courtyard in the back, which is beautiful—and so rare. We thought, why don’t we do a Basque grill? The turbot, the steak, the suckling lamb—bigger dishes. We took a punt, and it paid off. How have you been coping during Covid-19? Mel: It affected us before the lockdown even happened because Boris Johnson advised people not to eat out weeks prior, which was an awful situation for us. Then lockdown was put in place and they announced the furlough scheme, so at that point we at least had a safety net for the staff. But hospitality was still hit really hard. The furlough scheme is not really supportive of the pay structure, which is made up quite significantly by service charge, so to only be paid 80 per cent of your base salary is a big hit. What’s been more of a worry is the outgoings— you can’t just not pay your rent, which is the biggest expenditure. Nemanja: We started an online shop during lockdown, doing barbecue boxes as well as hot food takeaways. It was a nice way to stay relevant and keep our guests thinking of us, but we love hospitality— that face to face contact—
so it wasn’t my favourite thing. We were very much reliant on our neighbours during that period of initial lockdown. I was doing a lot of deliveries in my car. It was quite strange going to the house of someone I know from the restaurant in my apron! But it’s good to see so many people helping us out; people not just eating to be fed, but supporting us because they knew we were in trouble. What’s next? Mel: Lurra has been back open since 4th July, so Nemanja and I are back in the restaurant a lot. We have fewer staff and less covers—we’ve taken out about half the tables to accommodate social distancing. The menu is reduced, but we’ve kept all the favourites. If anything, we’re doing more specials and it’s given the chef a fresh perspective, trying new things while continuing to focus on fresh, seasonal produce. There’s always something new for people and it’s been quite fun for the chefs. The council closed the street to traffic in July and August to allow us to bring tables onto the pavements, which has been quite good, certainly compared to restaurants in the City, who weren’t able to even use their licensed tables! I think The Portman Estate has been behind that, which is great. It’s nice to be back at Lurra, doing what we love doing. Hopefully Donostia will soon follow. LURRA 9 Seymour Place, W1H 5BA lurra.co.uk DONOSTIA 10 Seymour Place, W1H 7ND donostia.co.uk
STREET PARTY Patricia Michelson, founder and director of La Fromagerie, on why Moxon Street’s role as a haven of high quality, specialist food retailers is more important now than ever before WORDS: CLARE FINNEY
There’s a florist, the sweet scent of which spills out onto the street, as does its vibrant array of blooms, perfectly bunched or potted. Next door, an exquisite chocolate shop. Opposite that, a window filled with myriad wheels of creamy yellow or greymottled cheese. This gives way to a store front busy with fresh bread and seasonal veg. Next stop, a butcher, bursting with prime cuts, herb-laced lamb shoulders, pies and pastries, their buttery, meaty aroma wafting enticingly through the door. At the end of this street sits a French wine shop and bar, the final piece in the pièce de résistance that is Moxon Street. Le Vieux Comptoir is very much the creation of its founder, Laurent. But, like the chocolatier (Rococo), the butcher (The Ginger Pig) and her own shop, La Fromagerie, its presence fits perfectly with the idea that Patricia Michelson first expressed 20 years ago of creating a Marylebone “arrondissement” on this short but characterful stretch of road—a vision that was shared, and ultimately realised, by The Howard de Walden Estate. “I wanted people to come to Marylebone specifically to shop on the street—for it to be like those little streets in Paris, lined with speciality food shops,” she continues. “Howard de Walden initially invited me to be on the high street, but I didn’t want that. I loved Moxon Street, I loved this building,” she gestures around her beautiful shop and cafe, “and I knew we could create a food hub that would draw people here, and from here to the rest of Marylebone.”
She wasn’t wrong—for if there’s anyone you can trust to follow their nose, it’s surely a cheese buyer. In the early noughties, Howard de Walden invited Tim Wilson, founder of The Ginger Pig, to set up next to La Fromagerie. Then the farmers’ market started coming to the Moxon Street car park every Sunday, further cementing the street’s reputation as a food hub. When Rococo followed, moving here from Marylebone High Street, its founder Chantal Coady and Patricia got talking, “and the idea of doing collaborations started,” Patricia recalls. The two created tasting events; Chantal brought the chocolate, Patricia the cheese. When Patricia and I first spoke about the making of Moxon Street back in early March, it was a different place. The world was a different place. A supper club with The Ginger Pig was in the pipeline, along with a special Moxon Street tasting menu to be served at the Aubaine restaurant during April’s week-long Marylebone Food Festival. Needless to say, the festival never occurred. Aubaine has only recently reopened.
No 6, La Fromagerie’s cafe and restaurant, is back open too, but operating at a reduced capacity. “The flower shop, Rococo and The Ginger Pig are all doing fairly well,” Patricia reports, when we catch up post-lockdown. The latter, like La Fromagerie, has particularly benefitted from online sales. Yet online sales, while offering a lifeline for retailers and customers, are not the same thing. The beauty of Moxon Street is the physical, sensory experience it offers—what Patricia calls “real shopping”. “We are doing well online, but we need people to get back into the groove again,” she continues. Both La Fromagerie and The Ginger Pig have rearranged their stores to enable socially distanced shopping and socially distanced queues—no mean feat on such a small street. It is testimony to the remarkable community spirit of the street that retailers and customers alike have been so supportive, Patricia says—for example, her team will look after The Ginger Pig’s meat orders if customers want to collect them from La Fromagerie after the butcher’s has closed. “We are very much interconnected, and always have been. I love my neighbours. We aren’t competing; when we all do well, it’s good for everyone.” Pre-Covid, helping each other consisted of joint events and supper clubs; now, it is about being open (“that is so important; we need the street to be open and welcoming”) and being understanding and
supportive of each other’s trade. The businesses of Moxon Street are all similarly invested: not just in their businesses, though that is important—“Tim, Laurent and I, we are all involved in the day to day running, the decision making, even if we’re not always on site”— and not just in the street, but in the responsibility that retailers bear to their customers and to their suppliers. It was important before lockdown, says Patricia; now it is vital. “We are not selling for the sake of selling; we are supporting our suppliers, and we are providing nourishment to our customers. Rococo is a perfect example of this— they go right back to the land, giving people in rural areas in developing nations employment and a reason to farm. But this is true of
The Ginger Pig’s farmers, and it is true of our dairy farmers and cheesemakers, especially at the moment, with young cheesemakers bringing a new dimension to cheese.” They care: about what they are buying, who from, and about how they sell it. In a nation still reeling from the effects of the pandemic and with the economy in recession, this has never been more important, nor so valuable. After months in which many of us were confined to online shopping, a potter along Moxon Street serves as the perfect antidote. “It harks back to a past time, when retailing was considered a valuable profession, and the experience of shopping was personal, proper and real.” LA FROMAGERIE 2-6 Moxon Street, W1U 4EW lafromagerie.co.uk
DANIEL SANNA Head sommelier at 28-50 on his relationship with wine
INTERVIEW: VIEL RICHARDSON
I grew up in Italy and I have always had a passion for drinks. I started off making cocktails. When I was 20 years old, I started travelling, and it was only when I arrived in England that I realised how large the world of wine was. In Italy, unless you go into speciality shops, you only encounter Italian wine. The wine world fascinated me, so I began studying wine outside my bar work, and I’ve not stopped since. I gradually moved up the ranks, learning from many sommeliers, and eventually became one myself. I first met Emiliano, the managing director of 28-50, last year and we really connected over our approach to wine. I remember him saying that in many restaurants the food comes first and
the wine, while important, comes second. Here the wine is the focus, with menu pairings often built around a particular wine. The name 28-50 identifies the latitudes north and south of the equator where vines produce better quality grapes. Everything here revolves around wine: as you walk in you see wine crates behind the bar—what we like to call like our library of wines. We even have a ladder to climb up to the higher shelves, just like an old-fashioned library. It lets the customer know our priorities as soon as they walk through the door. We have a big by-the-glass programme, which I think is important. It gives us the flexibility to home in on the right wine match for
I love it when people are curious about wine. Talking about wine always brings up good memories about people and places
every diner and every dish. It also meets the needs of people who want to come in and enjoy a glass of wine without having any food. Decanting the wine— allowing it to breathe— is something we do in the restaurant a great deal. You definitely need to decant wines that have been bottled for several years, as it will make them much more approachable and less austere. Decanting is also good when the wine has come straight from the chiller. Allowing it to warm up slightly will open it up, releasing all those flavours and aromas. Decanting a wine that doesn’t really need to be decanted shouldn’t harm it, but not doing so with a wine that does need it means you will be missing out on much of what it has to offer.
51. Food Lockdown has led to people building small wine collections at home, something which I think will continue. This may sound strange, but if you are building a small collection for the first time, start by focussing on what you eat. A lot of wine at home is taken at mealtimes, so this is a great place to start. There are lots of great resources on the internet that can suggest matches for your favourite dishes. Have fun and experiment. The most important thing is how you store your wine. I have been in many homes where really good wines have turned into vinegar because of the way they were stored. You want to store wine out of sunlight and in a cool, dark place with a stable temperature. A cupboard under the stairs is usually good. In the kitchen by the kettle, or on a window ledge where the sun shines through, the bottles might look pretty but will be a disaster. I love it when people are curious about wine. Talking about wine always brings up good memories about people and places. One of the real pleasures of being a sommelier is introducing people to something new. Maybe they’ve been drinking a certain style of wine all their life, then you suggest something they’ve never tried before and they love it. You’ve given something that will bring pleasure long after they leave the restaurant. Knowing that, I find extremely rewarding. 28-50 15-17 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2NE 2850.co.uk
FIVE HOUSE COCKTAILS
1. House Collins The key components of an old fashioned are, officially, whiskey (brandy at a push), bitters, sugar, a dash of water and a twirl of lemon peel. That found at The Grazing Goat has been given a slight twist: a bittersweet concoction of Bullet Bourbon, orange bitters, brown sugar, and Angostura bitters.
but our favourite regular is this fruity number, which first made an appearance at last year’s Summer Festival: a tropical combo of pineapple, mango vodka, cherry rum, lemongrass and ginger ale.
2. Aphrodisiac Fizz A drink that tells you all you need to know about the Seymour’s Parlour bar at Zetter Townhouse: inventive, unorthodox and sophisticated all at once. Here sandalwood vodka meets pisco, pear brandy, ‘clarified lemon’ and champagne. It might smell a bit like a rich old man, but it’s unequivocally delicious. 3. Tiki-tango Arguably there is no ‘house’ cocktail at The Marylebone—or they all are, depending on how you look at it, since every infusion and tincture is made in-house—
4. White Queen The menu at 108 Bar changes regularly, but one thing that remains constant is the extraordinarily good gin, made on site in a beautiful copper still. If it’s got 108 Gin in it, we’re having it. At the moment that means ours is a white queen, featuring pear liqueur, bitters, lime juice and orgeat (sweet almond) syrup. 5. The Aristocrat The Churchill Bar is known for traversing the boundaries of food and drink. This signature cocktail is a case in point—an amalgamation of many of the nicest things you could think of either eating or drinking: toasted bread infused Havana threeyear-old rum, fortified butter syrup, and Veuve Clicquot brut champagne. And we’re wholly on board.
Running a sustainable company is about making sure you’re creating a better product. People shouldn’t buy them just because they’re sustainable. They should buy them because they’re great shoes
helped us create an upper that is super cosy and comfortable. Meanwhile our Tree designs have uppers made from FSCcertified eucalyptus, which has a more light and breezy property—and our SweetFoam sole is made from renewable sugarcane instead of petrol. The shape of the sole also lends itself to a delightful around-town experience. So no blisters? Nope, no rubbing! It’s straight-out-the-box comfort.
QA SANDEEP VERMA Allbirds’ managing director for Europe explains how sheep, trees and sugar help make the world’s most comfortable shoes, and why the brand hot-footed it to Marylebone High Street INTERVIEW: LAUREN BRAVO
Tell us the Allbirds story... We launched to the consumer in San Francisco in 2016, and sold a million pairs of our Wool Runner in just under two years. But our co-founder Tim Brown, a former professional footballer, had been trying to craft a perfect shoe for over eight years before that. He was frustrated by the way the footwear industry works— an industry that’s been dominated by wholesalers, producing a lot of products using low-cost synthetic materials, which are not very good for the world. Tim became curious about using natural materials like wool instead, and after playing around with the idea for years, his wife Lindsay introduced him to Joey Zwillinger, a renewable engineering
expert. Those guys teamed up in 2015, and together they coined the bigger idea behind Allbirds, which is to be a driving force in a sustainable manufacturing revolution. Put simply, we try to help people and businesses tread more lightly on the planet. What makes Allbirds such a comfortable shoe? It all starts with the premium natural materials. Our signature shoes use ZQ merino wool from New Zealand in 17.5 microns, which is super, super fine—20 per cent the diameter of a human hair. It’s the same quality wool that you would typically find in a $5,000 Tom Ford suit. Nobody had really thought to use wool in footwear before, but its properties have
Is there a certain Allbirds aesthetic? We like to take away unnecessary details and really make the material the hero of the shoe, so it’s a simple, neutral design that people can style however they like. Of course ‘athleisure’ has been a trend for a few years now, and the idea that you have to wear a suit to work, or a collar to a club, is kind of outdated. People have got enough going on in their lives; they just want to feel good and comfortable in whatever they wear. So we’re definitely seeing people wearing Allbirds in more and more aspects of their life—and more and more types of people wearing them. Our customers range from 16 to 70. You’re making socks now too. What next? Who knows what the future might hold! We want to keep our focus on purposeful design, making sure that everything exists to solve a problem—like the Mizzle shoe, which was born in London and is now a fairly chunky size
55. Style of our local business. One of the insights that we got from our first UK store in Covent Garden was that us Brits love talking about the weather. We kept getting asked: “What are the shoes like in the rain?” So we decided to create the Mizzle, named after the Cornish word for that combination of mist and drizzle. It has a slightly thicker sole, for better grip in the wet, and a completely non-toxic water-resistant layer, so the water just bounces right off it. We launched it last year, and it’s now pretty much half of our European sales. Running a sustainable brand can sometimes feel like a game of moral whack-a-mole. What are the biggest challenges? One of our biggest challenges is keeping everything in stock, which is a good challenge to have! But we have to manage the supply chain and forecasts well, to make sure we’re meeting demand without compromising on quality and ethics. We couldn’t use the materials we do in a £95 pair of shoes if we also had to deal with wholesalers and retailers, so our model is to sell direct to the consumer. It keeps the shoes affordable. More broadly, the challenge of running a sustainable company is about making sure that at the heart of it, you’re creating a better product; that consumers want to buy it because it’s more desirable, it’s more durable, it’s a good price and a good story. People shouldn’t buy them just because they’re sustainable. They should
Carbon emissions are the central issue. It should be up to businesses to shoulder the responsibility and solve the problem
buy them because they’re great shoes. The footwear industry emits a staggering 700 million tonnes of CO2 each year, but Allbirds went 100 per cent carbon neutral in April 2019. How did you manage that? This is the big one for us, the central issue of sustainability. We think of it as almost an economic problem: there is a carbon impact, which we can work to measure and reduce through innovation, and whatever pollution is left we need to pay for through carbon offsetting. That’s our philosophy: to measure, reduce and offset. Currently we produce about 10kg of carbon per pair of Allbirds, while a typical pair of shoes might be more like
30kg of carbon. But we tax ourselves on that 10kg, so we’re incentivised to treat it as a cost item, and say: “How can we find a different way?” Our goal as a company is to be like a tree, and sequester carbon from the air. Fast fashion is a monster we need to stop feeding. Is it about slowing down, or just shopping smarter? Of course we’ve got to stop the fast fashion craziness—buying 10 items, using three of them and chucking away seven of them in a matter of months can never make much sense—but we believe carbon is the central issue. It should be up to businesses to shoulder the responsibility and solve the problem. Our BonSucro sole, for example, is carbon-
negative. We’ve made it open-source too; we had a hundred companies last year investigate it, and 20 companies are now putting out some form of product using the technology. We believe we’re all in this together. The more prevalent the use of this material becomes, the lower the cost becomes, so it’s better for everybody. So many brands are greenwashing these days. How do you distance yourselves from that? We’re a B Corp, a benefit corporation, which gives us black-and-white accreditation to say we’re running the company in a way that is held to the highest possible ethical standards. It’s tough to see greenwashing, but equally we take a lot of energy from anyone who
56. Style Has the pandemic focused attention on sustainability, or will we fall back into our old habits? I think people have been able to see how inextricably linked human health is with planet health. It’s been heartening to see wildlife returning and pollution levels decreasing. We’ve also seen the power of collective action and the world coming together. It seems that now, more than ever, consumers are becoming more environmentally and socially conscious and are voting with their wallets, supporting businesses who don’t compromise on their values.
is doing anything positive in the space. There are a bunch of brands who are looking at circularity, new materials, carbon impact. We need to get ourselves away from competing and recognise that this isn’t about perfection; it’s about progress, and trying to be a bit better than we were. What has the impact of the pandemic been for Allbirds? Like so many other companies, Covid-19 has had a profound impact on the business, but it’s been incredibly encouraging to see the resilience of our brand, our people and our supply chains throughout this crisis. As a mission-driven brand that’s committed to treading lighter on the planet, we were determined to use business as a force for
Locally, there’s a nocompromise attitude; people have high standards, and they understand that if they buy sustainable brands they’re making a better choice
good and support local communities. That’s why we decided to launch a donation programme for healthcare workers on the frontline across the US, the UK and Germany, which resulted in us giving more than $1M worth of free shoes. It’s humbling to have been able to provide a little bit of comfort to key workers looking after us during this challenging time.
So, what brings you to Marylebone? Marylebone is a lovely neighbourhood, and I’m not just saying that because I live nearby. It just made a tonne of sense to be here, the high street is so buoyant and there’s a real sense of local community. And in the first week of the store being open, the response was incredible. Locally, there’s a no-compromise attitude; people have high standards, and they understand that if they buy sustainable brands they’re making a better choice. We love the high street, we think it’s powerful and we want to be a good example of how if you get it right, it can work. How do you plan to win over the neighbours? Every time we open a new store in a new city or a new country, we create a limited-edition shoe and local shoelaces to mark
the occasion. In Marylebone it’s the Poppy Wool Runner Mizzle, and shoelaces in Bakerloo Brown, Lord’s Cricket White and Regent’s Park Green. And our head of design, Jamie McLellan, has created a chair unique to Marylebone, which has a deliberate rocking motion built in, so it’s easier to learn forward to tie your laces. We’re all about purposeful design in our stores as well as our shoes. In a digital world, why is the real life shopping experience still important to you? We don’t think bricks-andmortar retail is dead. Only bad retail is dead. And we’re insight-obsessed, so there’s nothing better for us than spending time listening to consumers and understanding what they like, what they don’t like and what’s working for them. It’s about people getting to physically touch the materials, understand why we make shoes from them, and of course trying them on and experiencing that comfort. Normally in a shoe shop you imagine asking staff for your size and then waiting for 10 minutes while they disappear and come back laden with boxes... it’s just a weird, outdated experience. So instead we have a service bar that’s in sight of the front door, and shoe racks directly behind that. We like to be able to get shoes onto feet in 40 seconds flat. If that’s what the customer wants, of course! ALLBIRDS 46 Marylebone High Street, W1U 5HQ allbirds.co.uk
DASHING TWEEDS Guy Hills describes this season’s Swale Coat Everything we do starts with the cloth. We sell fabric and we supply madeto-measure tailors, but we also like to have a small collection in store so people can see what is possible, as it’s hard to envisage when it’s just material on a roll. This coat was born out of a collaboration with a sheep farmer in Scotland who wanted to add value to his wool. Traditionally, wool was used in all sorts of clothing, but it’s been superseded by synthetic fabrics, and everyone is swapping carpets for wooden floors, so it’s become almost worthless. Some farmers just burn it— it’s not even worth driving it to the depot. The farmer who produced this wool chose us because of our graphic, colourful designs and exuberant checks. We only have about 150 metres of this wool, which is pretty much the entire flock. We’ve paired the clashing modern colours of the magenta and turquoise, then—because that colour palette is quite feminine—created a more military shape, with epaulets. The coat is designed to be fitted but masculine, with dashing slanted pockets and three buttons. DASHING TWEEDS 47 Dorset Street, W1U 7ND dashingtweeds.co.uk
Adnan Mohammed The owner of Marylebone’s first canine cafe, Mr and Mrs Small, on small dogs, big plans and the importance of living in the moment
SURPLUS FABRIC Henry Hales, founder of Sirplus, on using surplus fabric to weave sustainability into the business I’ve wanted to make and sell boxer shorts since before I went to university. I just never felt there was much out there for men in the way of well-made underwear. I started researching my idea as soon as I graduated, but realised it wasn’t financially viable. While I was doing my research, I learnt just how much surplus material there is left over from shirt manufacturing. I found a shirtmaker on Jermyn Street who sometimes used it to create bespoke boxer shorts for clients, which really appealed to me. Sirplus was born out of that idea. Shirt manufacturers don’t always throw the material away, they just rarely get around to doing anything with it. They know it has value, but it just sits there gathering dust. Our boxer shorts and some of our jackets and trousers are all made from surplus fabrics. We’ve used Italian surplus denim to create our Deep Indigo chore jacket, and surplus cotton to create our Camel Brushed
chore jacket, both of which are made in the UK. We also use Italian surplus cotton to make our Blue Dot pyjama top and trousers. Where possible, our knitwear is made from surplus yarn. With all the cancelled orders within the fashion industry as a result of coronavirus, there’s going to be a real abundance of surplus material. We’re going to have access to a lot of high quality fabric. We can’t make all our range from surplus, but sustainability is still woven through the business. We use sustainable yarn made from used plastic bottles. We use recycled cotton. Where we do use new materials, they are as sustainable as possible: bamboo, which is grown without chemicals, requires no irrigation and produces more oxygen than a similar footprint of other trees; linen, which demands less water than cotton; and a sustainably-produced viscose material called Evo-Vero. Our buttons are made from either natural materials, like ethically-sourced corozo nut, or recycled plastics. Even our first stall on Portobello Road was made out of a set of repurposed shelves. Our first logo featured a cabbage wearing a top hat. Cabbage is what the industry calls surplus material. SIRPLUS 85 Marylebone High Street, W1U 4QS sirplus.co.uk
THE OUTFIT THE BEST
OF THE SEASON FROM MARYLEBONE
Short sleeved tweed dress Sandro, £280 Marrakech orange Sabah, £185 Shrunken shirt in crepe Theory, £260 Cotton-rich stripe jumper The White Company, £49 Scrabble ring Cox & Power, £475 Cecilia jacket Cromford Leather Company, £1,500 Cotton face mask in Liberty print Brora, £19
Grooming can be a very traumatic experience for certain dogs, so we really try to spend time with them, getting to know them, so that they leave the premises not only looking good, but feeling happy
QA ADNAN MOHAMMED The owner of Marylebone’s first canine cafe, Mr and Mrs Small, on small dogs, big plans and the importance of living in the moment INTERVIEW: JACKIE MODLINGER
It is a Sunday morning in Marylebone and we’re having coffee at Mr and Mrs Small. Outside, children’s faces are pressed against the vitrine, enchanted by the dogs inside. Unlike in the song, though, the doggies in the window are not for sale. And this is no ordinary caff—it’s a canine cafe, and a genuine destination. Through the doors, dogs are running up and down between low tables, leather sofas, tub chairs and bar stools. Draped over the back of one of these chairs is a buff-coloured towel, embroidered with a tonal bone and the words “The Small House”. Along the wall hangs canine paraphernalia— a black turtleneck knit, a cream-sleeved coat
and accessories. Further along sit picture-perfect polaroids of regular canine clients, part of the Mr and Mrs Small family: there’s Benji, Oli, Ella and Pumpkin, the lhasa apsos; Bumble and Charlotte, the bichons frises; Houdini, the miniature schnauzer; pomeranians Pepsi and Rupert; Peanut, the teacup chihuahua; and Shiva, the shih tzu. Mr and Mrs Small offers small dog day care (by the hour or half board, which includes a 10-minute walk) and a grooming salon. Clients are encouraged to book in for an initial ‘wash and fluff’ so that the dog’s grooming needs or quirks can be determined prior to a full-on session. Optional extras are a Regent’s Park walk, behavioural assessment and a special ‘Small’ massage. Owners, meanwhile, can take their pick from croissants, pains au chocolat, banana bread, and all manner of coffees, teas and cold drinks. Dog treats are also on offer, so your pooch can have one while you have your coffee. I am greeted by Obi, the house dog, a perky pomeranian—the inspiration behind the— and his owner Adnan Mohammed, whose brainchild this venture is. Inevitably, it is Obi who’s the starting point. Obi, I learn, is a very lucky boy— a rescue puppy, who was abandoned, left in a box, under-nourished and with immune system issues. Adnan found him through a charity who took him to a pet shop. He adopted him at six weeks old and nursed him back to health. Now 18 months and fighting fit, Obi enjoys a great quality of life. “This is the first dog
I’ve owned. I’d quit my job and just wanted to take some time out—that was around June 2018,” recalls Adnan, who has lived in Marylebone for 20 years. “Dogs have a very positive impact on our lives. The greatest thing is that they live in the moment and when you are around them, you have no choice but to live in the moment too. That mindfulness— and unconditional love—gives you a sense of calmness.” Born and raised in west London with his younger brother Amir, Adnan had always wanted a dog. “Growing up, I always had a love of dogs, but my parents were a bit apprehensive. They thought they would have to pick up most of the responsibility. At school I played a lot of sport and did extra-curricular activities, so I guess I probably wouldn’t have had enough time,” he says. School was in Woodford, followed by a law degree at City University and two postgraduate degrees in philosophy and international law at UCL. After practicing law for three years in the City, Mohammed carved out a career in banking. His journey has been global, but it was a trip to LA that proved a game-changer. He takes up the story. What inspired you to open a canine cafe? When I worked for the Deutsche Verkehrs Bank, I travelled the world. I spent some time in LA, which is a very dogfriendly place. I saw a lot of canine pet care stores. What appealed to me was this day care concept,
which was popular and made a big difference to people’s lives. Initially my interest was personal— how I would manage a dog with my working lifestyle. It’s a big thing when you turn up somewhere and you just don’t feel welcome because you’ve got a dog. I thought, how do I rectify this? I felt that it was the right time to create a centre where people are welcomed, with or without dogs, with open arms. How long was it in the planning? It had been in my thoughts since I came back from LA about three years ago. I started out as a local, saying to people, wouldn’t it be great if we had something like this? Then thinking, well, I’m going to do it myself. Once I’d decided on the
The lockdown has created stronger bonds between dogs and their families. We also know the companionship has proved invaluable, especially in households that have been shielding
concept, I think it took three months to plan and then about six months in total to get it operational. We opened on 16th November last year with a soft launch, then officially on 1st December. How did the name come about? Firstly, because I was sometimes responsible
for a dog called Mr Small and secondly, our day care is focused on small dogs. The day care was always going to be for small dogs, because mixing small and large dogs is quite challenging, especially when they’re playing. It can be a recipe for unintentional injuries. Also, given the space we’ve got, it was appropriate. Bigger dogs can come in too, absolutely—the only aspect of it that applies to smaller dogs is day care. But the majority of dogs that live and come into the area are within our criteria. What does your grooming service involve? It varies, really, depending on the type of dog booked in. Some have more complex needs, like lots
of hair, or they can be matted. Some dogs mind the hairdryer, so we have to take it a lot slower and use noise-reduced dryers. We give them a hydro bath, then we towel and blow-dry them. Some get accustomed to it; you just have to work it out. Everything is geared towards the dogs’ wellbeing and happiness. We try to bond, get to know them, get a relationship going. We are not a factory, so in terms of grooming volume, we like to space out appointments. Grooming can be a very traumatic experience for certain dogs, so we really try to spend time with them, getting to know the dogs, so that they leave the premises not only looking good, but more importantly, feeling happy. It is what Mr and
Dogs have a very positive impact on our lives. The greatest thing is that they live in the moment and when you are around them, you have no choice but to live in the moment too Mrs Small stands for. We’ve got a great team at the moment: there are 10 of us, 10 and a half if you count Obi. We test everything on him. Tell us more about the cafe aspect. We have tried to create a relaxing environment, so that people don’t feel rushed. It is almost like someone’s living room. There’s no better thing for starting up a conversation than having a dog, and a lot of the kids that come in go to the same school. Friendships develop among a wide range of people in the community. A lot of our customers come through word of mouth. That’s how it’s been so far: “I have found this hidden gem of a place to bring your dog and have a coffee.”
Why did you choose Marylebone for Mr and Mrs Small? Because I live in the area and know it well. After 20 years, it is very dear to me. It’s an area that needs this sort of service, this kind of place. What I like most is that, despite being so central, it really has a village feel about it. It’s a community, which is really hard to find in big cities, which are much more transient, and people can be self-absorbed. Here, you get to know people—it really reminds me of my childhood, where everyone in the neighbourhood was familiar. The events that take place here are fantastic, they bring people together. The Howard de Walden Estate and The Portman Estate do a really good job
connecting people with each other. What do you do outside of work? Sport’s a big part of my life. I have done aikido, Japanese martial arts, in north London and in Japan. I also play cricket for North London Cricket Club. I love sport. I go on lots of walks with Obi; it’s good to be out and about, get some exercise and have a routine. We’re lucky to have Regent’s Park, Paddington Street Gardens and Hyde Park in close proximity. I also read a lot and love to travel, but since I got Obi my travelling’s been curtailed. What has Mr and Mrs Small been up to during the lockdown? We were closed from 20th March and re-opened in June only for essential grooming, three days a week. We re-designed the boutique and reviewed our retail goods section, providing a wider variety of items. We have increased our range of leads and collars (which are handmade in African villages to order), harnesses, dog beds and dog accessories. We stock all the basic necessities, ranging from treats, toothpaste and shampoos, to training tools. As a new business, the impact has been significant in terms of our trading. However, we are extremely thankful to our regular visitors for returning to us, and also our new customers. It was hard not to see our paw friends and their owners, as well as our non-dog owning customers.
How important do you think dogs have been to their owners during lockdown—have they lived up to their reputation as ‘man’s best friend’? We definitely believe that the lockdown has created stronger bonds between dogs and their families. We also know the companionship has proved invaluable, especially in households that have been shielding. We have noticed, however, behavioural traits changing in dogs, such as separation anxiety. Now that lockdown is easing, this is something that owners have been working on. We have had new dogs in our day care who are not enjoying learning how to socialise with other dogs and being separated from their owner. They are definitely best friends. We also found that dogs have largely received more exercise than usual, as they have been home with their owners. How do you anticipate the easing of the lockdown will affect your business in the coming months? It is too early to tell what the impact will be, or the potential second wave in the winter. We are all dealing with the new norm. Our priority is the wellbeing of our staff, our customers and their pets. To that end, we have rigorous cleaning and sanitising procedures. People need to feel safe in visiting their local stores and is something that is up to all of us to try and ensure. MR & MRS SMALL 31 New Cavendish Street, W1G 9TT mrandmrssmall.co.uk
There is a three-year waiting list for one of the pans we sell. Giorgio Locatelli has been waiting for one for two years. I let him borrow mine sometimes.
INSIDE KNOWLEDGE POTS AND PANS Jay Khan at the Japanese Knife Company on choosing the right pan for the job INTERVIEW: ELLIE COSTIGAN
The number one thing to look for when you’re buying a pot is how evenly it distributes heat. If it’s even, everything in the pan cooks at the same rate. Steel is not the best conductor. Normally, layers of aluminium, steel and copper are added to each other. The more layers and more materials you use, the better.
The Japanese don’t make the best steel cookware, even though they have a fantastic steel industry. They make steel cookware for the western market, but it’s their interpretation of how someone would cook French or Italian food. For that reason, when looking at ranges, I decided to stick to something European—why would you fly something over from the other side of the world when you can get something just as good, if not better, closer to home? Their ironware, though, is categorically the best in the world. The Japanese are very traditional; they always cook with iron. One of the pans we sell is a ‘triple brushed pan’ and it’s completely non-stick— you don’t need to use any fat to cook in it. The inside
of the pan is scrubbed with wire pads three times, creating micro-thin ridges. This creates more surface area and allows more air to circulate. There isn’t any reason to use a frying pan rather than a saucepan. It’s personal preference. The only reason you might want shorter sides is if you’re making something like an omelette and you need to be able to get a spatula in to flip it. You shouldn’t buy a pan without trying it out in your hand. Until you lift it up, you don’t know how it’s going to feel, especially once it’s got liquid in it. Here, you can try anything out, and cook with it for yourself before you buy it: we’ve got ovens, induction hobs, gas, electric. I’ve got
samples of everything. I would never buy anything without giving it a try. These pans will last forever. If they begin to wear, perhaps every 20 years or so, you can bring them back into the store and we will send them back to the factory for rescrubbing, re-polishing, re-handling—they will sort everything out and when you get it back it will look brand new, but for half the price of a new pan. Iron pans are not nonstick, but you can make one non-stick very easily by ‘seasoning’ it. Seasoning it means putting oil in there, taking it to a very high temperature, then lowering it down very slowly before cleaning it. As you use it more and more, it will build up and become completely non-stick. Japan is all about the ‘two faces’: very cutting edge, ultra-modern production, and the highly traditional and hand crafted. One of the pans we have here is completely handmade by a blacksmith who makes the cookware for the imperial court of Japan. It takes three eight-hour days just to tin line it. It is hand beaten from a single piece of copper. Does it make any difference to the performance? None. Does it make a difference when you hold it in your hand? Yes. The soul of the maker is in there. There is a three-year waiting list for it. Giorgio Locatelli has been waiting for one for two years. I let him borrow mine sometimes. JAPANESE KNIFE COMPANY 36 Baker Street, W1U 3EU japaneseknifecompany.com
FIVE KITCHEN LINENS Clockwise from top left: Peace and love tea towel Bella Freud, £25 Linen tie back apron Toast, £75 Swiss yellow check kitchen towel David Mellor, £15 Linen napkin The Conran Shop, £17 Block printed tablecloth Cologne and Cotton, £45
These procedures involve a three-way partnership. We will perform the right operation, the dietician and psychologist offer the right aftercare and coaching but the patient has a role to play as well
QA MR SHAW SOMERS Consultant gastrointestinal surgeon at The London Clinic on the medical and surgical interventions used in the fight against obesity INTERVIEW: VIEL RICHARDSON PORTRAIT: TBC
What is your role at The London Clinic? I am a consultant in general surgery, but I specialise in upper gastrointestinal and weight loss surgery. My team has partnered with The London Clinic to run specialist weight management services. Obesity is now recognised as a major public health issue, with up to 30 per cent of the population significantly overweight. People’s ability to control their weight in the current food environment is becoming increasingly difficult. We now accept that many people who have struggled with their weight for years need medical or surgical intervention rather than diet and lifestyle advice. What happens when a patient requests a
consultation? The patient will see a surgical consultant, a dietician and if necessary a food psychologist. After some in-depth discussion with the patient about their present situation and what they wish to achieve, we explain the different options available and between us create a plan. This might be a medical regime at first with an option of a surgical procedure later, or we may go straight to the surgical option. What are the medical and surgical approaches? There are three standard medical interventions. One involves a three-month treatment programme based around hormone injections used to speed up the metabolism, alongside a weight loss plan. Gastric
balloons are the second intervention. Then there is the endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG)— with this we reduce the size of the stomach by closing off a section using an endoscopic suturing device. Even though the ESG involves an anaesthetic and some internal stitching, none of these procedures are classed as surgical, as they don’t involve accessing the stomach through an external surgical incision. What is a gastric balloon? There are two types: a short-term balloon, which is in place for up to six months, and longer-term implants, which can be in place for around a year. A deflated balloon is inserted into the stomach, either by swallowing a capsule or using an
70. Health to stop them eating, while others need just enough of a restriction to remind them to slow down. We tend to adjust it quite often in the first year so we can get it just right for that individual. After that, we need to change things far less often.
This is one of those areas where people actively want your help. These patients have struggled with their weight for so long that your intervention is seen as a huge positive
endoscope. Once in place, the balloon is inflated remotely. It helps to reduce the patient’s appetite and improves their ability to reduce their food intake. These balloons are doing something much more complex than just taking up space. They change the way people experience hunger and reduce their desire to eat. What are the surgical options? The main ones are the gastric band, gastric sleeve and the gastric bypass. We define them as surgical because they involve a full anaesthetic and keyhole surgery as opposed to feeding an endoscope down the patient’s throat. Why would you choose one over the other? After counselling
and discussion with a consultant the patient will decide on the best option. People who are not that much overweight may want a gastric band. People with other medical issues, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, may want to go for a gastric sleeve or a gastric bypass, which can help control these medical problems more effectively. What is involved in the gastric band procedure? This is an inflatable rubber band that sits around the top of the stomach and is designed to last the rest of the patient’s life. It is adjusted by a small button that we implant in the abdomen which allows us to inflate or deflate the band as required. Some people need it quite tight
If the capacity of the stomach stays the same, what is the mechanism by which it works? The mechanism at work here is that by slowing down the rate at which a person eats, we allow time for the stomach to send messages to the brain saying it is full. The body takes between 20 minutes and half an hour to register the nutritional value of your food and send the message to your brain to tell you to stop eating when you have taken on enough calories. Part of the problem is that many modern foods are so packed with calories that we have taken on far too many in that 30-minute timeframe. It means we eat more than we need before the message to stop comes through. Do the gastric sleeve and gastric bypass have the same effect? These do reduce the capacity of the stomach as well as changing the way the stomach talks to the brain. The great thing about all these procedures is that the patient still enjoys the food they eat, they just do not feel the need to eat as much. I have a number of chefs and cookery writers under my care who tell me that undergoing their procedure has been a huge blessing.
How invasive is the gastric sleeve surgery? Using a very thin stapling instrument, we reshape the stomach. We will typically remove about three-quarters of the stomach, including the part that sends messages to the brain that say you’re hungry. Patients have told me that while food still smells appetising, and they do still get hungry, they are not as desperate to eat it as they were before. However, they still receive the signal saying they are satiated and no longer need to eat, and crucially this happens much more quickly than before, taking place in more like 10-15 minutes. What about the gastric bypass? This is a slightly more involved procedure. Not only do we reduce the size of the stomach, giving the patients those benefits, but we also create a minor short-circuit in a part of the small intestine called the duodenum. Doing this changes the messages sent to the pancreas gland that controls the way that your body metabolises sugars. How does this affect people who have diabetes? It has a profound effect on those suffering from type 2 diabetes. They often find that they go into complete remission once they have had a gastric bypass. We do not completely understand the mechanism but it seems to make their own insulin system work much better than before. Most can safely come off their diabetic medication completely after the procedure.
71. Health dependant on drugs or alcohol do not respond well. This is because it is very difficult for them to comply with the postprocedure programme. These procedures involve a three-way partnership. We will perform the right operation, the dietician and psychologist offer the right aftercare and coaching but the patient has a role to play as well. The good news is I have seen many people use this as a springboard to overcoming these issues and go on to have very successful procedures.
Obesity is a major public health issue. Many people who have struggled with their weight for years need medical or surgical intervention rather than diet and lifestyle advice Is it possible for people to undergo this procedure primarily to cure the diabetes then, rather than obesity? Yes it is. We modify the bypass so that the weight loss effect is minimised but the anti-diabetic effect is maximised. However, in my experience it is very rare to find someone who is type 2 diabetic and not overweight. A patient may be only modestly overweight but still have the procedure to cure their diabetes. I have had doctors who were not significantly overweight approach me for the surgery because they know what a dangerous disease diabetes is. All medical interventions involve some risk. What are the risks here? These are among the safest operations you can do. The
chances of a complication are between 1-2 per cent. It is incredibly rare that something happens that we cannot easily remedy. We occasionally find that people just canâ€™t tolerate the balloon, so we have to remove it. There is often some initial discomfort, but with our guidance the vast majority get through that in a couple of weeks. With endoscopic procedures, there can be a small risk of some post-procedure bleeding, but we can deal with that very effectively. For many people, any complication from the procedure still poses far less of a risk to their health than not having the procedure at all. This is especially true over the long term when considering the risks posed by cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
What happens after the procedures? Each patient receives postoperative coaching to help them develop a healthier and more enjoyable diet. The whole multidisciplinary team remains available to them, so if they need extra psychological as well as technical support we will arrange that for them. Are there clinical issues that would render people unsuited to these procedures? Possibly some people who cannot tolerate anaesthetic. However, in over 3,000 cases I canâ€™t recall the last time I had to tell a patient that there was a clinical reason why I could not help them. Psychologically it is different. Patients such as those with an uncontrolled psychiatric illness or those
What is the gender balance of the patients you treat? We treat twice as many women as we do men. The frustration is that we know that weight-related disease affects and kills more men than women. This is because men carry their extra weight internally around organs like the heart, where it is doing real damage, whereas women tend to carry it externally under their skin. The problem is, men are less likely to act, so they put themselves at greater risk. What do you enjoy about working in this area of medicine? It is one of those areas where people actively want your help. These patients have struggled with their weight for so long that your intervention is seen as a huge positive. It is a very happy clinic to do, and incredibly satisfying when you see your patients going off to enjoy a much higher quality of life. THE LONDON CLINIC 20 Devonshire Place, W1G 6BW thelondonclinic.co.uk
We offer a house doctor service, whereby we take your existing pieces and show you how they could work a bit better. Often you’ve got two people who’ve moved in together with their furniture, one from one home, one from another, and they’ve just put it in and moved along with it when it doesn’t actually work. We go in and say, “Right, which pieces do you absolutely love?” and use those as a starting point. Sometimes it’s just a case of moving things around. Not everybody has an eye for it.
INTERIORS Andrea McGlashan of McGlashans on turning a house into an attractive home INTERVIEW: ELLIE COSTIGAN
There is no specific McGlashans ‘look’: it is timeless elegance. It’s about creating a home through choosing the right key pieces. When a room doesn’t have a fireplace, you have to create a focal point. You can do that with a lovely console, or one big piece of art. I regret that TVs have become the focal point of people’s lives; they shouldn’t be the main feature of a room. Sometimes just one piece of art can transform a room. We now have our own in-house artist, Khaoula, who works in the showroom four days a week and paints the other two. She has created a wonderful exhibition of her original art within the shop, which is available for purchase, but also for commission. It’s stimulating to have an original piece of art in the home—it lifts your heart. I like tone on tone. Sometimes we haven’t got any colours in our showroom at all, apart from the art. On Valentine’s Day, all we did was put a big vase of pink roses on the table and it changed the whole feel of
When a room doesn’t have a fireplace, you have to create a focal point. I regret that TVs have become the focal point of people’s lives; they shouldn’t be the main feature of a room
the room. There’s nothing wrong with neutrals: it creates a calm feeling in a home that you will never tire of. Often it is easier to rent furniture, because it takes the stress out of having to make a decision about a piece. If in a few weeks you want to change something, we can do that for you.
A lot of our pieces are from a Belgian company called Flamant, though we’re using a lot more UK companies now. All of our upholstery is from the UK. Interestingly, I don’t know that Brexit is going to make a big difference to the furniture business. We haven’t seen an impact on demand. People will always want beautiful furniture. In a difficult property market, you need to get your interiors right. You can’t go too modern. It needs to suit every age group—people have to walk in and say, “Oh, isn’t it lovely?” I am still at the helm, but we have a lovely interiors team who all have an input. We range from early twenties up to sixties, so it’s nice to see that cross section.
Many of our clients live abroad and are coming to live over in the UK for a couple of years, so they don’t want to ship their furniture. But a lot of the big houses are unfurnished—the landlord or seller doesn’t want to invest in a whole load of furniture and then someone comes in and doesn’t like the style. Rental furniture is very appealing in those instances. When it comes to interiors, we can do anything you want. That could be fitting a whole house with furniture, from sofas to sheets, which is what we call our ‘turn-key’ service: people can literally turn the key, walk in and everything is done. We’ve had people sewing day and night making bespoke curtains two weeks before a couple moved into a property we’d rented to them, as they realised they didn’t have any. Our motto is, there’s nothing that we can’t do. We can make anything happen! MCGLASHANS 107 Crawford Street, W1H 2JA mcglashans.co.uk
THE PORTMAN ESTATE HAS MORE THAN 500 PROPERTIES, FROM COMPACT STUDIO FLATS TO ELEGANT GEORGIAN TOWNHOUSES
For enquires please call 020 7563 1400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
QA NEIL SCOTT Associate lettings partner at Carter Jonas Marylebone on living in Marylebone, building relationships and working with the Estates INTERVIEW: ELLIE COSTIGAN PORTRAIT: CHRISTOPHER L PROCTOR
What brought you to Carter Jonas? I’ve been doing this job for 18 years and I’ve worked all over London. When I first started all those years ago, I was in Walthamstow— before it was nice! For a few years I worked over in Belsize Park, then I was in St John’s Wood for a little while, so edging closer to central London. I’ve been at Carter Jonas for more than seven years, but I’ve been working in Marylebone for 12. I live here as well, just on Marylebone High Street— I’m a bit of a Marylebone boy, I have to say. What is it you like about the area? The thing I love about the area itself—not just working here but living here—is that everything is walkable. It’s a two-minute walk to the office, which is fabulous. I spend a lot of time in Marylebone. I know a lot of agents bandy the term ‘village feel’ around, but to me it really does have that. It doesn’t seem as though you’re bang in the centre of London. I don’t think tourists even realise it’s here. It’s ironic that in the summertime, you see them queuing for miles outside Madame Tussauds but if only they came a few hundred yards further, they’d probably actually see some of the people who have wax figures in there! Knowing the area so well must be beneficial when it comes to giving clients advice. It does. I find it helps that I’m talking to them not just from the point of view of somebody who’s trying
to rent them something: I live here, I know what the area is like, I know what’s going on at the weekend and how it’s got a different vibe to during the week. I go to all the bars and restaurants. I can give them a bit more of an insight into the area. It’s not just about matching people to the right property: we deal with a lot of relocation agents and they don’t necessarily know the differences between the prime areas, so giving them a bit of local knowledge is helpful.
property until you have a chance to walk around it. The easing of certain restrictions has of course helped and it has been wonderful to see the re-emergence of local businesses, people back on the high street. Safety is still paramount, but I think we are all now well versed in new procedures and the new conditions in which we are operating. We have measures in place to make sure that our people and our clients feel safe and protected.
How has Carter Jonas been operating during the Covid-19 crisis, and what have the biggest challenges been? Once lockdown restrictions were introduced, we adapted quickly to new ways of working. We adopted virtual viewings, virtual market appraisal and virtual property inspections, with our people working safely from home. Because our branches were physically closed, we spent even more time on the phone, calling our clients and reassuring them that we were available and accessible and here to help. For me, the hardest part was not seeing people in person— colleagues, clients and locals. So much of our work is based around the community in which we operate. And much of our success is dependent on forging relationships and knowing what makes someone tick. While we have all managed pretty well in an online world, I don’t think you can beat a proper chat in person or really get a feel for a
You’re one of few agents that let properties on behalf of both The Howard de Walden Estate and The Portman Estate. What are the benefits of that? We’re very fortunate— having the big estates is fabulous. It gives us a lot more to go at. From a client’s point of view, the best thing about it is the service. With both Estates, it’s almost like having a 24hour landlord. I rent from Howard de Walden myself, so I know both sides of it. I had a boiler problem a few weeks ago—someone was round that afternoon and sorted it. With the Estates, you are guaranteed a good service from start to finish: from finding the property, to referencing and drawing up contracts. They also do a ‘meet and greet’ at all their properties, to show them how everything works— the washing machine, the heating, when they need to put the rubbish out. They deal with things like putting utilities in the tenant’s name. It’s the full service.
75. Space want to try somewhere else, and inevitably they come back. Often I’ll get a call from somebody I put into a property a few years back saying: “We moved out but we’re missing Marylebone, can you find us something?” People know me, which is a real plus. It’s the benefit of staying with one company and building up clientele. What’s Carter Jonas’s main strength? We’ve got a good strong brand and experienced staff. I’ve been here a long time. I have relocation agents who I’ve worked with for donkey’s years, over different areas and different offices—you build up a good rapport and you become friends. Relocation agents in particular like to know they can call a reliable agent who knows what they’re doing and isn’t going to show properties that aren’t suitable. In a lot of places, it’s like a revolving door, but people tend to stay here, which is nice. We’re a small team and we all get on.
The thing I love about the area itself—not just working here but living here—is that everything is walkable. It’s a two-minute walk to the office
Who are your main clients? In ‘normal’ times, we would see a lot of Americans and Europeans. Italians, French—we’ve got the French schools here, so often people want to live in the area for that reason. There are an awful lot of Americans in this area who want to have that quintessential London
experience—they want the beautiful period buildings, which we have a lot of here. They often come over with work, so they’ll have friends and colleagues already living in Marylebone who sell it to them: “You’ve got to come to Marylebone, you’ll love it.” Interestingly, people often live in Marylebone for three or four years, decide they
What do you enjoy most about the job? I like the mixture of being in the office and going out and doing viewings—I wouldn’t like to be stuck behind my desk. You get to meet really interesting people and see some great properties. Also, all the agents in the area know each other, because often you are joint agents on properties. Everyone gets on well here. We’re a friendly bunch. CARTER JONAS 37 New Cavendish Street, W1G 9TL carterjonas.co.uk
The Marylebone Journal magazine offers a window onto life in one of central London’s most attractive, vibrant and culturally rich neighbourh...
Published on Sep 11, 2020
The Marylebone Journal magazine offers a window onto life in one of central London’s most attractive, vibrant and culturally rich neighbourh...