24 October 2014

Friday figments and photos

I always feel under a weird pressure on Fridays. The need to have an action packed weekend planned often wars with a keening for relaxing at home in PJs with the cat and a pile of cheesy movies.

What is a girl to do?

Picadilly Circus - Eros Adventures of a London Kiwi

Sexy snowshoe shopping - who needs Jimmy Choos?

Adventures of a London Kiwi

We also visited one of the poshest sports-goods stores I've ever seen.

Picadilly Circus Adventures of a London Kiwi

Giggled at these wallflower-esque costumes (none purchased FYI)

Picadilly Circus Adventures of a London Kiwi

Got slightly frightened in a 30-storey lift (and had visions of Dr Who arriving just in the nick of time)

Adventures of a London Kiwi

Explored a taste or two of French Wines...

Picadilly Circus Adventures of a London Kiwi

... with an incredible London skyline backdrop.

Picadilly Circus Adventures of a London Kiwi

A touch of R&R is definitely in order. Well, maybe.

23 October 2014

London Fashion Week; Off-catwalk and off plate; LK Bennett at the Marylebone Hotel

I am not a fashion blogger. My wardrobe tends to fall into two style categories; Tidy & Everything Else. Shoes are only ever bought for their ability to adventure in, my handbags get a bit battered commuting and I live by the mantra "everything goes better with a scarf". I'm not super keen on photos of myself (ironic I know considering how many hundreds I take) and my only ever attempt at a saucy pout ended up looking seriously fishwifely.

Of late however, I've been accused lately of turning more into a girly girl - but the piece de resistance was when I announced to the world that Amanda and I had been invited to the LK Bennett catwalk show. Yup. A catwalk show. Having not painted my nails in months, straightened my hair since my wedding years ago or worn heels in many moons, I had images of a paparazzi surrounded platform, overlooked by stern looking fashionistas in head-to-toe-black and huge sunglasses.

As someone never to turn a new experience down I just couldn't say no, and as evening fell I donned my favourite LBD (because that's what one wears, right?) a pretty scarf and diamante flats we tottled off. Unsure of the format, we excitedly entered the beautiful doors of the Marylebone Hotel very, very curious.

Having popped in for the Pantry at 108 to try the Gluten-free afternoon tea a few months ago, we were immediately we were struck by the luxurious designer touches in the foyer and public areas - French cut crystal, dazzling sculptures and opulent fabrics.

Seated with a smile, our tables were groaning with afternoon tea treats (I have always maintained that afternoon tea is best for any meal of the day) and Nyetimber bubbly. Well, you have to toast the beautiful L K Bennett models with something, right?

The lovely Perugia coat and Thyme dress.

Our models eschewed a traditional catwalk, preferring to walk between the tables full of click-happy press. It gave the autumn/winter 2014 preview a lovely intimate feeling; perfectly suited to the beautifully tailored fashion on show.

The Fabina coat and Elle top.

Did I want to buy everything? Yes, as usual. But how do you pick a single one? Luckily, the lovely gluten-free tea was on hand as consolation. I always adore Autumn; the glossy falling leaves, incredible sunsets, crisp mornings and the jewel-tone fashion beginning to appear. I don't wear a lot of colour, but when I do it needs to be strong and beautiful so I look less like a ghost - the LK Bennett palette is utterly perfect for me; teal, hints of magenta, lemon yellow and vibrant red; crowned with luxury coats.

For a far better photographed post and a view from the other side of the table, I highly recommend Amanda's beautiful blog Rhyme and Ribbons or Angie's post on Silver Spoon London of the afternoon show.
Silver glitter and fur-lined crutches - epic.

22 October 2014

Picture Restaurant Review.

I accidentally committed the ultimate food blogger sin. In a pretty restaurant, not far from Oxford Street (ironically enough) called Picture, I watched with an aching blogging heart as battery life bleeped away into nothingness, my lens then deciding completely reformat itself a few days later. But, in the spirit of intrepid explorers everywhere (think Scott in Antarctica, Hillary on Everest, Armstrong on the Moon) I thought hey, as a seasoned eater I can do this, write a review concentrating entirely on the incredible flavour plated in front of us without taking any photos. [Turns out that blogging without photos is like walking down a beach wearing an Arctic coat, just weird feeling]

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Picture Restaurant, but my (many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn't happily visit. And revisit.

Luckily, the lovely, and far more skilled Leyla swung by the next day to take more of her incredible light soaked images of main-size plates and allowed me to share them. Follow her (via her wonderful blog, not down the road, that's a little stalkery).

As ever, I digress. Sorry about that.
I am terminally indecisive. I've written how small plate restaurants somewhat lessen the agony of picking one single wonderful dish (I often end up having two starter sized portions or playing Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Mo in my head). Food envy is not cool.

Luckily the tasting menu at Picture solves this conundrum. Asked at the beginning of the meal what flavours you don't like (the point where you'd mention any allergies) our toothsome waiter gleefully skipped away to fix a round of refreshing elderflower fizz cocktails, with a surprisingly empty list of dislikes, and returned with 6 small courses bursting with flavour. My kind of bloke.

Three dishes utterly stood out for me. The Squash Veloute (pumpkin soup for the rest of us) was divine. We eat a homemade batch every week during the long evenings of winter (it's an antipodean thing I believe) and with years of practice haven't ever come close. There was a complexity of flavour that left me writing tasting notes "fleeting, teasing, incredible". Beautifully balanced and rich, it is a perfect Autumnal aperitif.

The second had to be the grilled broccoli. I'm not the world's biggest fan of goat's cheese and was curious to see just this Marmite ingredient would be deployed. Delicately placed alongside sweet, crunchy grilled tenderstem broccoli and  chopped fresh tomatoes, the fresh curd was sweet and oh so interesting.
Then, we were treated to a beautifully balanced taste of pork cheek (a teasing taster portion, probably perfect for some, but not a greedy glutton like me) before the Sea Bream was unveiled. I would face the nearby Oxford Street crowds on a Christmas Eve Sale night for another taste of this wonderful, plump, crisp taste of the ocean. I rather suspect the rest of our table was the same.

Following swiftly, the 28-day beef was perfectly cooked and counterpointed by swiss chard, salsify and red onion, rounded out with a nicely rich chocolate mouse and selection of textures and flavours.

Rather unassuming on the outside, Picture has a modern interior with pockets of quirky accoutrement and light fittings. Nestled within these clean lines, the focus and passion seems to be squarely on the fare, exactly where it should be. Word on the grapevine is that Mondays are BYOW with no corkage fees (at the time of writing) in a super central location (but away from the crazy crowds). Tell 'em I sent ya.