Saturday, July 31, 2010

Make-Up Impossible

Make-up has become self-defeating in a whole new way; Dior has created make-up too beautiful to wear! I have got better as I've got older but as a child I was a big one for saving things for a 'special occasion'. Of course an occasion special enough was pretty much mythical and the toy/bath bomb/attractive plastic jewel was inevitably lost, grown out of or broken before I got any use out of it. I've learnt a little since those days and now I gobble down my Easter egg the day I receive it and try extra hard to use any nice smellies I might be given at the first possible opportunity. The new Dior Tailleur Bar Palette would stump me though...

How could you ever use that?? It is just too perfect. It doesn't help that it is based on an illustration I have loved for years either. Many a geography/French/science class was spent trying to imitate this Rene Gruau painting... Good times.

(Both pictures from GeniusBeauty)

It is probably for the best they are only making 150 of these (and that they are unsurprisingly expensive) because they would be wasted on me. Sure, I would love it but I couldn't use it and I'm not sure how one could best display it. A furry teacup but a lovely one.

Chuck x

Friday, July 30, 2010

Donna Wilson cont.

After the glory that was the beard teatowel I felt I had to share some more Donna Wilson loveliness with you. If she seems familiar it might be because she recently teamed up with Supermarket Sarah. I think the charming naivety of her work speaks for itself so I will try not to babble inconsequentially...

(These are Pierre and Cyril Squirrel-Fox. I love them a lot. We also have much in common; Pierre loves drinking tea, and the odd bit of chocolate and hates wasps and Cyril is mischevious, likes marmalade and dislikes cottage cheese. Now I'm not particular fond of marmalade and I am partial to more than the odd bit of chocolate but I really do love drinking tea and cottage cheese is disgusting baby vomit in my humble opinion. I didn't just make up Pierre and Cyril's tastes btw, they're on the website and everything. Very useful information for informed purchasing)

(This is Meg. I would like to be her friend. And eat off her face. Mutually exclusive? I think not...)

(Clearly Donna has a thing for foxes. When they look like this who can blame her. I've admired the fox stole in the past without realising where it was from. I would like to go to elegant soirees draped in it and revel in my own irony. The cushion makes me think of Wes Anderson and Fantastic Mr. Fox which, possibly controversially?, I loved. Fab colour palette at the very least)


Chuck x

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Food Reviewed - The West House

Hurrah! An opportunity to review my favourite ever restaurant bar none. This will in fact be less of a review and more of an ode to a glorious and wonderful place. The West House is located in the village of Biddenden (read middle-of-nowhere), Kent and despite this apparent impediment it has a Michelin star and the food is perfect. Frankly I don't understand why it doesn't have more Michelin stars but Michelin stars seem like strange things and maybe the food isn't fanciful and extravagant enough? Who knows. Anyway, the restaurant is very small, maybe ten tables, and is effectively in the front room of an old Tudor house. The owners are lovely (I'm fairly sure he cooks and she maitre d's) and always friendly and never pushy. We only ever go - en famille - as an extra special treat because obviously it is quite expensive but given the quality of the food I wouldn't say it was overpriced... It is £29.50 for a starter and a main and £35 for starter, main and pudding. I'm hardly an expert on high-end dining but I can't imagine that you could find the same level of food at the same price in London. Correct me if I am wrong, I will be more than happy to hear where to go!

Anyway, to the important bit - the food! Heaven. First out come olives, bread (warm raisin bread and brioche), butter and pork dripping. Admittedly the dripping was a bit strange but fundamentally nice; a light, white, very salty cream that melted into the warm bread. I Heart Salt btw. Then there were amuse bouche which I love because, as I have mentioned on multiple occasions, free things make me feel gloriously spoilt. I also like the way you don't get to choose, you are just presented with something surprising. I wouldn't necessarily want to do a full tasting menu but it is nice to be moved out of your comfort zone. We were presented with 'cheese sticks, cheese melts and cheese sandwich-biscuits'. Respectively these were the most fragile parmesan quills (my word, not theirs!), sesame seed studded blue cheese biscuits that were almost sponge like in their lightness and crumbled into cheesy goodness as the touched you lips and miniature, handmade, sweet digestive biscuit pairs glued together by the smoothest goat's cheese I have ever tasted. They were gorgeous. I could have had them ten times over. Was positively sad that wasn't an option... For my starter I had 'tomato tartare' with fried courgette flower, feta cheese and olives. This was a medallion of very finely chopped and pressed tomatoes with a fine grating of olive and obviously the other accompaniments. I had never had fried courgette/zucchini flowers before despite the fact that we picked them while WWOOFing in Sicily last week. I wasn't really expecting to like it but actually it was lovely although one was probably enough. It was a classic rather than revolutionary combination of flavours but the quality of the ingredients and the presentation were excellent.

Let me now rhapsodise about my main. Sweet jebus it was so good. I had pork cheeks with baby carrots, turnips and potatoes and chorizo cream. It was the chorizo that drew me in, I just can't resist it. I hadn't had cheek/s before and I was a bit worried it was going to be quite fatty like pork belly which kind of freaks me out but it wasn't at all! They were really meaty and more porky than just say a pork chop. They were also amazingly cooked - they were so tender, it was like cutting through butter. They melted in your mouth... *Drool*. The baby vegetables were adorable, none of them were bigger than ~2cm end to end and they were so sweet. The chorizo cream underpinned all of this and was gorgeous. It tasted deeply of chorizo without being overpowering. I had to eat it really slowly a) to savour it and b) because I knew I would be upset when I finished it! I was. I wanted seconds and thirds and maybe some fourths? It was SO GOOD. Mon pere had the same thing and we mutually decided that we had won that course. Divine.

Pudding was fab too unsurprisingly. I had white chocolate honeycomb parfait with dark chocolate sorbet and it was yummz... It didn't really match up with my mental image of parfait, it was more ice cream-y than I was expecting, as was the sorbet, and it both cases this was an excellent thing! It was really sweet and comforting and chocolatey and beautifully presented. The white parfait was encased in a dark chocolate shell and sat next to the egg of dark chocolate ice cream encrusted with honeycomb positively crying 'eat me'. I obeyed. Sugar high. Mostly it was all about the main course though. I will take another of those now please.

If anyone is ever in Kent and looking for a really good, nice meal out please go to The West House. I love them and I want them to have all the business I can get. They make me very happy. They is food geniuses, innit.

Chuck x

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beard Alert!

HOW GOOD IS THIS!? Sorry, felt the need to capslock that. I love this teatowel by Donna Wilson. I think it is unadulterated genius-ness. I find myself with a growing fascination of beards, not so much real beards on real people but more fake beards, pictures of beards, the general existence of beards. Out and about on Etsy there is an amazing shop that only sells different styles of knitted beards. I want one of those too but I can't help but feel the teatowel would be more practical...

Chuck x

Sicily, An Overview

Sicily is: a beautiful Mediterranean island, rich in geographical diversity, saturated in the varied histories of its many conquerors. Sicily is not: a place for pedestrians. Watching the Grecian Temple of Concord glow in the morning sun it seems impossible that anything could mar its magic. These buildings, which have stood for two and a half millennia, can’t help but give you a reassuring sense of your own place in time. You walk away from the UNESCO World Heritage Site feeling enlightened. This sense of enlightenment begins to evaporate surprisingly quickly as you find yourself waiting two hours at the ‘coach stop’ (unmarked and unshaded from the fierce midday sun) for an un-air-conditioned bus that spontaneously decides not to stop at the destination you have bought a ticket for.

We are told repeatedly by friendly Sicilians that no, it will be no problem reaching the Scala dei Turchi, or Turkish Steps, from Agrigento without a car, just get the bus no. 11 and you are practically there. One can only assume they have never tried it themselves since they didn’t seem malicious. It turns out the bus doesn’t go to the Scala as such but rather a small village called Realmonte. It also goes so infrequently that is almost impossible not to arrive at some point during the five hour afternoon siesta no matter what time you depart Agrigento. Realmonte, like much of Sicily, is deserted between noon and five o’clock. The few old men who remain on doorsteps watching the tumbleweed roll by do not speak Italian and my travelling companion, who does speak fluent Italian, insists Sicilian is incomprehensible. We eventually find someone who tells us to follow signs for the Madison hotel. There are only two of these over the course of the sweltering 5km walk. A couple of cars drive past and look at us like we are clearly mad. They’re probably right.

We, rather to our surprise, eventually stumble upon the Madison hotel and catch our first glimpse of the Scala. They are astonishing. The vast and sparkling white stairway, formed from limestone curiously eroded by tides and winds, rises surreally from the turquoise sea. There are a handful of tiny figures sunbathing on the stairs that were once utilised by Turkish pirates. There also doesn’t seem to be a way down. We creep cautiously to the edge of the cliff and peer over but decide that, given the crumbling chalk of the rock face and our lack of abseiling skills and/or equipment, a direct descent isn’t an option. 500m in both directions and no way down and, of course, no informative signs. Slightly tearfully we realise that if we don’t abandon the Scala dei Turchi immediately we are going to miss the one bus back and that is not an option. So close and yet so far.

However, for all that one can fault the Sicilian public transport system and believe me I have barely started on it, there is no denying the friendliness and generosity of the general populace. Having calculated that we probably couldn’t walk the 5km back up hill into Realmonte in the ten minutes before our bus was due we crawled into a B&B, the only vaguely open looking building within sight. We begged them rather incoherently to book us a taxi. Once the owners understood our predicament and the fact that we didn’t actually want to stay at the B&B they laughed gently at the idea that there might be taxis. They gave us water and popped us in the shade while they decided what they were going to do with these hysterical foreigners. We were told that if we waited until the evening they would drive us directly the hour into Agrigento, otherwise they could take us to the bus stop at once. Feeling we had inconvenienced them enough already we opted to catch the bus. They dropped us at the station and waited to see us aboard. They waved merrily as we slumped relieved into our seats, crisis averted. This pattern becomes familiar to those travelling around Sicily by foot. There are amazing things to do and see and eat and you really have to go to Sicily but specifically you really have to go to Sicily with a car.

There will be more to come on Sicilian food, WWOOFing and my chosen reading matter over the 'holiday'. There is unlikely to be anything on Sicilian 'fashion' because frankly it was rather lacking...

Chuck x

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Honey, I'm Home...

Guess who's back (back, back)? Back again ('gain, 'gain)?

That would be moi, obvs. Enjoying the gangsta reference?

Sicily was very mad. VERY mad. I'm not sure I know where to begin so I am not going to try. I only got home this afternoon so I am going to sleep. In a real bed! Seriously, so excited.

That is all.

Chuck x