Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Value

This last year I have been mega broke. I understand that these things are all relative and I am very lucky and lots of people would love to be in my position but things have been tight. I have had negative disposable income. Now I have got a well paid, if temporary, job (hurrah) and that is great but my perception of value has definitely been warped/corrected. I can't wrap my head around high street prices. I have bought a couple of bits in the sales since I've been paid and they have felt like a major commitment. Wandering around the shops looking at current season stuff I can't quite imagine buying any of it. Partially this is the eBay effect but maybe everything is just massively overpriced? I can't work out what constitutes good value anymore.



Example: this Gap dress is super cute. It is even nicer in real life that online. The chambray denim is soft, the dots are minimal but interesting, the casual style details are just right. I can think of many picturesque situations that it would be just right for. Imagine the brunch you could eat in this dress! But surely it isn't worth £50? Mass market. Denim dress. £50. This doesn't seem to add up to me. Or does it? I don't know any more. I've been brooding on it too much. What do you think? Am I wrong? What would you call a reasonable price for this dress?

Chuck x

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Verbal Food


WARNING: I'm going to post about food I have eaten and there aren't going to be photos. *Scandal* I was feeling guilty about this. I felt like a bad blogger because I didn't take any glossy, exciting photos of these special meals. Then I thought about this and I realised I was being ridiculous. Despite the constant barrage of perfect food (fashion, lifestyle, whatever) images on the Internet, a photographic representation of food is no closer to the actual experience of eating than a verbal representation. Maybe a verbal representation can ever be more accurate - the most beautiful picture of ice cream can't tell you whether it is coffee or hazelnut or caramel. That might just be my bias though.


Anyway, R and I recently went to Bocca di Lupo. I've been wanting to go for the last year but haven't had an opportunity where occasion and money coincided until now. It is quite expensive and certainly a special event kind of place (for me anyway). R's birthday was the occasion in question and I treated us to dinner as his main present. Btw, for a bit of context for non-Londoners, Bocca di Lupo calls itself London's premier regional Italian restaurant. 'For when you're hungry like the wolf.' It is the big brother restaurant to Gelupo, one of my most favourite London places. I am aware that I am coming across as a bit of a brand ambassador but I can't help it - Jacob Kennedy is doing good work.


Apart from pizza (hey Franco Manca) I very rarely choose Italian when eating out. I love Italian food and I cook it a lot at home but I resent paying over the odds for something I could have done better myself. It isn't a cuisine that is reliant on difficult cooking techniques and obscure ingredients - the best Italian food, for me, is simple, rustic peasant cooking. It is about home cooks rather than chefs and great quality, fresh ingredients. Living in London I have access to some of the best specialist food shops, delis and produce and being charged £10 in a bland, anonymous chain restaurant for a bowl of overcooked pasta with non-descript bottled sauce or a Caprese salad where the tomatoes are tasteless mush and the mozzarella is like chewing rubber and they skimp on the low quality olive oil and basil makes me mad. These kind of restaurants are so prevalent here that sometimes it is hard to remember that there is an alternative. But Bocca di Lupo is that alternative - it is very lovely and very Italian and very delicious.


The atmosphere is a lot of fun too. The restaurant is smart but the crowd is rowdy and there were lots of natives eating and drinking and gesticulating at 10.30. Everyone was talking very loudly and there was a drunken birthday party going on near us. It is no silent, reverent restaurant and I think that suits the food. After a large amount of really great bread, spicy green olive oil and olives, we started with some Roman bar snacks - fried mozzarella balls and suppli. I LOVE suppli and I've never seen them in England before so I was psyched about these. It's hard to describe them and/or do them justice but they're basically tomato risotto balls dotted with chunks of mozzarella, bread-crumbed and deep-fried. They're super good and in Rome you get them on brown paper with your drinks. The Bocca di Lupo ones came on brown paper too which made me happy. I am going to look into the possibility of just drinking at BdL and snacking on all their fritti Romani. That would be dreamy and affordable since the suppli are £2.50 each and you could eat 2-3 max...


R then had rabbit salad with tuna sauce and capers. It was too tuna-y for me but he assured me it was excellent and it did look very lovely. I had what was, according to the menu, a small plate of girolles risotto that easily could have been a main. I saw someone having the large size later and it was enormous, a vat of risotto! It was lovely but probably the weakest thing we ordered just because I easily could have made it at home given girolles. You know that you've had a great meal though when your weakest dish was still a pleasure to eat. In Italy I often skip the main course because of the high risk of being served a single large piece of meat that is 90% bone and gristle. It's great if you like that kind of thing but it's not really my cup of tea. I decided to put my trust in BdL though and they really delivered. The serving style was very Italian, just R's and my meat sitting on a white plate, you have to order your sides separately, but the cooking and flavouring was perfect. R had pork neck with honey and rosemary and grilled mini green peppers and I had scottadito, long, grilled, salty lamb chop, with tomato borlotti beans. The sides weren't all that excited but the meat was gorgeous. You can't eat scottadito with a knife and fork and I approve of a restaurant where you can eat with you fingers. We had fully intended to have Gelupo ice cream for pudding but we were so full by the end of our mains that it just wasn't an option. We might have slightly over ordered... We got a bit excited! I might have had to go home on the tube with my trousers unbuttoned - a sign of a good meal.


A week later we organised a joint birthday picnic. We did, if I say so myself, nail it food wise. We are masters of the picnic universe. There were warm, charred chipolatas wrapped in tinfoil and tea towels; Tamasin Day-Lewis' roasted tomato tart; bucks fizz; thermoses of tea; St John sourdough and Camembert; roasted vegetable couscous with goat's cheese and harissa dressing; Korean meatball pops sticky with spicy soy sesame glaze and dusted in sesame seeds and spring onions; Baked cookies and brownies. Friends bought cheeses and hummus and Biddenden cider and muffins. It was glorious. It didn't even rain.


I might have mentioned this before but food really is the best.


Chuck x 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Different Kind of Cake


It was someone's (read: my) birthday this week. Because he is the best boyfriend ever R bought me a Gelupo ice cream cake. Gelupo remains one of my absolute favourite places in London - its ice cream is leaps and bounds better than its nearest competitor in the metrop and it is probably in my Top 5 global ice cream destinations. I actually wrote a mini rhapsody about it almost exactly a year ago. Seriously good shit.

Above is hazelnut, pistachio and chocolate. Oh yeah... I maintain that cold, soggy sponge is morally dubious but perhaps it is necessary for structural integrity? I tried some to experience the full effect and then chose to eat around it. It was my birthday after all. I am still high on the pleasure of a birthday shaped mound of Gelupo deliciousness left in my freezer.

Times are good. Londoners, please tell me you've been to Gelupo? I am basically a spokesperson for them these days, I have dragged so many people there to sample the wares, we can bond over flavours. Non-Londoners, if there is a way for you to get to the city to stuff yourself full of ice cream I would highly recommend it. Always interested to garner local ice cream suggestions too though.

Chuck x

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Perfect Sunday


Mag stash:
The latest Oh Comely / Kinfolk and Lionheart Magazine - birthday presents from my Pop (aawwww) / Fire & Knives

Birthday macarons from L'Orchidée / A glorious barbecue from my Madre

SUNSHINE AT LAST
I have a sun burnt nose. So worth it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Five Favourite Friday Fings


I'm still thinking about some of the dresses from the Valentino Resort 2013 collection. They're delicate and beautiful and lovely and feminine. Those aren't traditionally my buzzwords but Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri are really nailing it. I really like the paired down styling and makeup and the scruffy hair on Caroline Brach Nielsen. It's an interesting collection actually, they're clearly having fun. It's not all to my taste - I'll pass on the Pucci prints and the flounces and the leopard print - but there are delicious moments.

I love a red lipstick. I have a couple of different favourites that I wear quite a lot. I don't believe that there is a 'perfect red' for everyone. You can have as many different ones as you feel like and feel happy and confident in. The latest one that I have my eye on is the Helmut Red from Poppy King, House of Exposure and Jenny Shimizu. It's a knockout blue-red, all classic and sexy and strong like the women in Newton's work. The packaging is pretty sharp too. Read more on Into the Gloss.

This sweet animation from Johnny Kelly for Chipotle is a crash course in sustainable food production. It doesn't say anything new or ground breaking but the presentation is cute and accessible and Willie Nelson makes Coldplay's The Scientist something special. It's a good beginner's guide. The more people that see this and think about it the better so watch it, pass it on and then read Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals.

Fleetwood Mac, yes. Lykke Li, yes. Lykke Li covering Fleetwood Mac's 'Silver Springs', double yes. Got a Girl Crush indeed. This Mac tribute album is out in August and it sounds excellent. Psyched.

Talking of ethical, political things everyone should watch... Republicans, get in my vagina. One of many excellent links on Hila's post on Jessica Stanley's blog. We women don't want government in our schools or hospitals or banks, we want government in our vaginas! Our right to choose? What about our right to choose not to have a choice?? I could just quote the full two and a half minutes. Very funny, worryingly true. Also, I love Judy Greer.

I hope you all had good weekends. Mine went far too fast (as ever) but I did eat some cracking food in the last 48 hours. More on that soon. Any exciting links that you've seen?

Chuck x

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Groceries


Today at Maltby market we bought:

Multi-coloured tomatoes / Adorable miniature red peppers / St John sourdough

Also, St John doughnuts with apple and rhubarb jam. Might have left quite a lot of the jam down my front and on the bakery floor... Oops. Apologies to the wonderful/hilarious hipster bakers for the mess.

There is nothing better than wonderful food. We showed the near constant drizzle who's the boss.

Chuck x

Monday, July 9, 2012

Go Graduates

Guess who has a (hopefully) functioning laptop? Me, that's who. Sure, my bad machine/technology karma possibly knocked out a car along the way but, fingers crossed, it is over. Oh, please god, let it be over.

I'm going to mix up my pro-graduate cheerleading with some shoes because shoes are awesome and these shoes are rather beautiful. They are from 2012 RCA graduate Maurice van de Stouwe and I don't know anything about him or his motivation. I haven't read about how the collection is derived from the beauty of Proust or the purity of mathematics or the struggles of urban youth. Maybe those explanations exist and maybe they are rational and eloquent but I only looked at the images on his spartan website.





The shoes and the heels particularly owe quite a lot to Balenciaga but that's no bad thing. The heels are beautiful and the black and white is clean and the leather is pure and the details are simple but interesting. I don't know where a second collection would develop from here, whether he would develop a distinct style, but this feels like a good place to start. I would love to wear these.

Aren't young people clever?

Chuck x

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Holy Mother



Givenchy Menswear Spring 2013 via Style.com

Riccardo Tisci's latest menswear collection is awesome. I've mentioned before that I have a soft spot for Catholic iconography and Spring 2013 is tickling that spot. It is liberally plastered with Virgin Marys - all thrumming religiosity and Renaissance art. I can't resist it. Apparently the show was all incense and organ music and archways of lilies. There were a smattering of women amongst the male models. The faux nose piercings are intriguing. I would happily wear most of it. All in all, excellent stuff.


Chuck x