Lately I've found myself gravitating to Kensington and Chelsea (it was Shoreditch for awhile - to the point that my husband accused me of becoming a hipster and my accent altering towards Clapham for an age - more easily explained by antipodean brunches). I'm usually lured to the beautiful streets for the art and architecture exhibitions at one of the museums, via Instagram shots of stunning Mews' or just to walk through the beautiful parks.
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Taschen and Manicomio Chelsea but my (very many) opinions are only ever my own (and my love for Taschen has been years in the formation)
And this is no hyperbole - in the course of 3 weeks I visited for a ladies dinner near Gloucester Road, surprised my husband by taking him to the Saatchi Gallery (before nipping to The Ritz for dinner), took in a dim sum and wine date at Harrods, sipped a glass of wine or two in our favourite bar, wandered through the beautiful V&A Museum (my favourite place in London ever), meandered through Hyde Park in the sunshine, enjoyed a blogger night out learning more about Taschen and Manicomio and a fair few coffee dates between rambles.
Before Christmas I bought tickets to the Rolling Stones exhibition in the Saatchi Gallery, wanting to surprise my ever-suffering better half. He is obsessed with the Stones (they rank second in his record collection beaten only by The Beatles, and I'm pretty sure it's Keith Richards' fault that both their favourite meal is cottage pie) and I rather like them with their bluesy rock and fabulous swagger.
So, on the first Saturday of the run we spent nearly 3 hours admiring exhibitionism - that's how good it is. Taking over the entire Saatchi Gallery, the collection is a breathtaking amalgamation of what makes this iconic band tick, really getting under their skin.
But if you try sometimes well you just might find / You get what you need
(You Can't Always Get What You Want)
A few nights later after our romp through the history of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood, a few of my favourite lovelies (Angie you're beautiful - (guess that song!), Aftab, Lauren, Mina, Fiona, Suze with Tania and Matilda who I haven't met before, shimmied our way to Taschen on Duke of York Square.
Welcomed with a glass of Prosecco and a guided tour of the beautiful shopfront, I found myself catapulted in memory back to art history classes where we spent hours leafing through beautifully glossy folios of incredible portraiture and still life paintings so real you could almost pick the apples off the paper, not to mention intriguing photography that changed our teeny little worlds.
Dial forward all these years, and I still lovingly cherish the tomes we have carefully stacked under our coffee table and in bookshelves groaning with knowledge. It always feels so good pulling out a real book - something that just can't be replaced with the internet.
Ensconced in the downstairs gallery, Taschen's passionate manager Nolan Browne explained the eclectic odysseys the publishing company embark upon from choosing a subject, all the way to the care they take in the luxurious materials chosen to comprise the books. It's so lovely to hear that the same care is taken with their everyday range of art, architecture, travel (...) as their limited editions in much larger sizes.
We admired their range of beautiful limited edition prints (including David Bailey portraits of the Rolling Stones, and aaaaaahed over the stunning stands filled with gorgeous plates such as Goat, the Hollywood homage to Mohammed Ali. Naomi Campbell's recently launched book stole our breath, and I lingered near the signed biography of the Stones. My favourite moment of the evening was Nolan's claim that when you don't even know what you're looking for, he can find you something to fall in love with.
We decided that we would have a soda / My favorite flavor, cherry red
(You Can't Always Get What You Want)Manicomio, we were greeted with 'Jagger Wood' cherry cocktails and settled ourselves around the table for a proper catch up.
Yeah, sure and I frowned at the crumbs of a crust of bread (Jumping Jack Flash)
As everyone tucked into their lovely looking h'ordeuvres and foccacia drizzled with oil, Mina and I tested a couple of their gluten free canapes whilst perusing the menu. Not being able to resist, I ordered the Morzarella di Bufala Campana, served on perfectly grilled English asparagus.
My main was a steamed skrei cod fillet over a bed of Fregola "putanesca" and Exmouth Mussels, before the lovely light dessert consisting of blood orange buttermilk pannacotta served with rhubarb.
It was a lovely way to while away a few hours and learn about some of the exciting events coming up for Duke of York Square such as Chelsea In Bloom, Strawberries & Screen, HRH The Queen’s 90th Birthday and the Commonwealth fine food and wine market curated by Partridges. I have a strange feeling that I will be spending even more time in Chelsea (if for no other reason than returning to do a little shopping!)
As the effervescent lads wrote themselves -
Drink in your summer, gather your corn/ The dreams of the night time will vanish by dawn
Rolling Stones or Naomi Campbell for the win?