Friday, June 29, 2012


June started on a culinary high note in Rome with good coffee, spaghetti all' amatriciana, fragoline, aperitivi and gelati. 40 Maltby Street cheese and wine brunch with C, Pintxos at Pix in Soho and Affogato at Gelupo on the Queen's Jubilee with Charlotte and Jeanine, coffee and lavender and pear cake with Laura at Fernandez & Wells, my secret detox weapon at Rose Bakery at DSM, fish with garlic, ginger and Sophie the giraffe at Ol's, not pictured: hilarious cat lady crew afternoon at Automat with Nina, Jaja and Laetitia, eggs benedict at TomTom in Elizabeth Street with Z and Alba, negroni, water (well done!), more wine and negroni sbagliato(s) at Ombra (ouf), Poilane emergency croissant - with greek yoghurt and jam saves the day. Boiled egg and soldiers at TomTom, Swedish midsummer night smorgasbord at Christina's.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I thought my subconscious was up to something. Despite the cold, wind and rain, I'd been amassing quite a little trove of clothes in light cotton prints more suited for exotic climates. I even bought a white and leopard print APC canvas bag to carry my camera in, like a summer bag! (Online it's full price, but it's on sale in stores.) There's usually no point in buying summer stuff here, since summer only lasts three days - far more sensible to get a discounted full length Barbour with a hood; but at a sample sale I was drawn to some Isabel Marant printed muslin pyjama trousers, a little APC Liberty print skirt of the lightest cotton lawn, which I've seen tons of times before and never bought, even though it's almost identical to one my grandmother made me and I wore incessantly when I was about five years old. (To be fair, granny's one was better quality.) A little Isabel Marant top - perfect for sizzling hot days... I could only assume my subconscious was plotting an escape to Belize or Sicily. But now, the weather report says that temperatures will stutter into the low 20s this week in London! It will only rain once or twice a day! The sky is blue right now!

I don't quite believe that I'll be able to not wear socks today yet. I might put some in my bag just in case.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


On the summer solstice I had my first experience of legendary Punjabi restaurant Tayyab's in Whitechapel. Regularly listed as one of the best - and cheapest restaurants in London, it was only because I happened to walk past it on my way to a private view of C's upholstery class that I ever thought of going there. I'd always thought it was probably one of those over-hyped places that's listed in every London guide book and eventually loses its touch.

We hadn't booked and thought it might not be too busy on a weeknight. Ha. After managing to get inside we finally worked out that we should join the end of a long, long queue snaking around the edge of the restaurant, standing inches from people dining and with waiters pushing past carrying sizzling dishes every now and then. This is when a vague memory kicked in of having read something about it being crazy there, so we just took it as part of the experience. We'd been told we'd have to wait 20 -25 minutes, which seemed impossible as the queue was so long and was hardly moving. But just at the 25 minute mark, we were whisked to a table and seated not far from the open kitchen.

Being starving and having absolutely no idea what to order, we asked our waiter to recommend one meat dish and one vegetarian, and I made us order a Peshwari naan because I love them so. They had yummy looking lassis - and a huge counter full of really amazing looking desserts/sweets in fact, but we'll have to go back and investigate those next time. Oh, and I now realise why everyone else was eating lamb chops, so back for those too.

Since it's a grill, everything comes piping hot in sizzling dishes. C remarked that it was like being in a disaster movie, with waiters veering around at high speed carrying heavily smoking red hot dishes all around us, inches away. It was pretty much like being in a scene from Towering Inferno.

The level of spice in each dish is not really indicated on the menu, so you just have to pour a glass of water and go for it. At first even the poppadom tasted unusually spicy - ok I coughed a bit and had to drink water. Then the rest of our food came and I ended up scraping the bottom of the dish. It was totally delicious: chicken in a spicy red sauce and lentils with baby aubergines. The Peshwari naan was excellent. By the end of it everything sort of merged into perfection, despite the fact that this wasn't exactly St. John - there was a huge TV screen showing a football match, stark lighting and a not very photogenic interior. It didn't need to be, the food was enough. And the bill? £10 a head. I would always walk the extra fifteen minutes away from Brick Lane to come here now - the food is miles ahead of any Indian or Pakistani restaurant there. 
I know, *newsflash*: Tayyab's is good. Hold the front page.

When it was time to go we glanced outside. The streets of Whitechapel look pretty bleak at the best of times, but it was so cosy in there with all the smoke and fire and spice that we hadn't noticed it was blowing a gale and raining sideways outside. And was pitch black. Oh, and freezing cold. At 9.30pm on the summer solstice? Welcome to my home city. Yes, I was wearing suede ballet flats, no socks, no jacket and had no umbrella.

We dodged puddles on the way to Commercial Road, clutching a small, ineffectual umbrella between us. Thankfully the amber light of a free taxi appeared out of the mist and I, having spent only £10 on dinner, very gratefully clambered in and C blew away with her umbrella like Mary Poppins. (Then I had to get out of the cab a ten minute walk from home because I didn't have enough cash to get me all the way, thanks to red lights and traffic; but that's another story.)

So Tayyab's = good. Go there. They don't serve alcohol but you can bring your own and they don't charge corkage.

{I don't have a single photo, but C took this lovely one of me outside!}

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


© Slim Aarons
It has come to our attention that numerous mainstream news outlets have run features on Choupette Lagerfeld, the big KL's kitten. Fashionista, in an alleged "interview" asks "Choupette" about her daily habits and rituals, favourite foods and past times. Choupette's alleged Twitter account currently has 7,783 followers.

This is clearly a thinly veiled attempt to jump on our Bloggers + Cats bandwagon and frankly, if Choupette and her team of ghost-tweeters had any class, their first port of call would have been to contact the internet's foremost authority on cat interviews since September 2009 (that's us) and plaintively beg for our consideration. I might have made an allowance, even though technically daddy Karl may have a lot of iPods but he is in fact not a blogger and is therefore ineligible. 

Never mind - we're kind of over Choupette now anyway.

There will be a new Bloggers + Cats post forthcoming, and it will rule.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Rome, June 2012. Where the sun shines every day, everything is beautiful and the answer is always yes to gelato.

{Disposable camera snaps and a few digitals thrown in.}

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Sometime in the past year I stopped wearing perfume, ever. I've always been a serial monogamist with scents, but in the past few years the perfumes I chose became lighter and lighter until I realised that the En Passant I sprayed every morning was only noticeable, and only to me, for about four minutes. And I'm not really the kind of person that carries their perfume round for re-spritzing throughout the day. I also watched the excellent BBC4 three-part series on the perfume industry, which showed the perfume business to be equal parts sublime and ridiculous. Watching the segment about the focus groups and marketing behind a new *Rock n' Roll* Tommy Hilfiger perfume launch was painful in its epic lameness. I kept hearing Malcolm McLaren's voice in my head repeating, 'Ever get the feeling you're being swindled?' And then there were the true noses, the tip of the top - it was absolutely fascinating stuff featuring Jean Claude Ellena of Hermes, Christopher Brosius of CB I Hate Perfume, the French school for perfumers Givaudon and the house of Guerlain. You can watch some, but not all of the series on Youtube still.

I had always gone for niche perfumes - of course - I would fit so cosily into one of those focus group categories it makes me mad! The industry or the marketing wasn't what made me stop wearing perfume though. It was a physical reaction, maybe hormonal? I found that when smelling perfume I could detect something unpleasant about it, and began to find the whole concept of spraying something really expensive on yourself that has no other function than masking your natural smell with a different, more mutually accepted as pleasant one decidedly odd. Don't worry, I didn't stop washing and revel in being really stinky - the best human smell is definitely a freshly washed human! But I found that any perfume, as lovely as it is, and even something like a perfumed deodorant or a scented candle just started to smell like cheap air freshener to me. Weird.

So I went on a quest for gorgeous smelling creams and lotions - so I can still be uplifted by the scent, but feel I'm doing my skin some good as well. After a few months and some hits and misses, not aided by the fact that I hate body lotion that feels cloying or stays on the surface of the skin, I found some things I really love.

First up is from Aesop - I think when in the UK this is probably a summer-only choice as I find most of their products are more suitable for warm weather/climate. At the moment I'm using Geranium Leaf body wash and the scrub and I bought myself a massive flask of Rejuvenate Intensive Body Balm. To me it has the most delightful scent: Tangerine Rind, Vanilla and Sandalwood - just so good. It smells sort of warm but soft, then with a little kick of the tangerine coming through. And it sinks right into your skin despite being really moisturising and containing macadamia, sweet almond and coconut oils and shea butter. (I also really like Aesop's Newsletter.)

The other range that I'm - to be fair - totally obsessed with is Diptyque's Art of Body Care line. Yes, I'm aware it has all that fancy background story and that when you buy a product it comes with a book of whimsical copywriting about how each product is inspired by a different exotic location. But I didn't know that until after I bought the Baume Genereux for hands, which has apricot kernel and argan oil in it. It's also really rich and nourishing, but soaks in straight away and smells really clean and comforting. Every product in the range smells different, but seems somehow related by smell, which is a pretty clever feat I reckon.

At the moment I'm also using Kiehl's Amino Acid shampoo and conditioner, which has that coconut smell, but like real fresh coconut, not how it normally smells in products. Oh, and Decleor Neroli Essential Night Balm (made of 100% natural ingredients) - I don't use it either at night or on my face, but as a lip/cuticle balm and all round pick-me-up - sometimes I just smell it when I'm in a particularly offensive tube carriage or put some on my wrists. Actually that is probably the closest to what I'd call my perfume now.

What are your favourite smelling lotions and potions?

Thursday, June 07, 2012


The night before I went to Mexico uh... a while ago, my friend Lauren and I attended an event for charity in a storied private London palace overlooking Green Park. We, as tradition dictates, took an aperitif at the secret martini bar to start, where another customer was so overwhelmed by Lauren's style and grace she was almost in tears.

We walked around the corner to the party, following the trail of tuxedos to the door. The house was filled with the most incredible collection of paintings and there was music being played in each room. Champagne, canapes, champagne, canapes...

We later found ourselves locked out on the large terrace that runs along the back of the house overlooking Green Park. Yes, we had the entire terrace to ourselves and an open window from which to receive champagne. (There seems to be a theme with windows and champagne here.) Eventually it got a bit cold and after we stood like two beaded and sequined apparitions outside the French doors with various people attempting to open them, they succeeded and we went back inside.

Today is Lauren's birthday. Happy birthday my dear friend. Everything is fun when you're around. ♡

Monday, June 04, 2012


In fact quite the opposite! Have been roaming a lot lately, most recently in Rome. More soon - baci! x

{Can't find a credit for First photo of Monica Vitti credit: AP, the second the internet is telling me is by Helmut Newton - could be possible I suppose, but unlikely?}