Driiiiiing! Hear that bell? It marks the summer holidays… The kids are overexcited by so much sun and freedom. And there are 6 weeks to fill. There’s no need to break the bank though, why not start by getting the board games out? They tend to get forgotten in a drawer, TV preferred over classics. It was teatime so we decided to give a modern touch to Twister by placing strategic Perk!er treats on the colourful carpet - the delicious Rocky Road and Tiffin bites are the perfect size, irresistible! Followed lots of giggles, lots of munching, and balancing acts to grab (sometimes with only their teeth) a mouthful of cake on a yellow circle while the left hand was on the green and the right foot on the red. Or to drink over all this with the straw. I gather there might have been some cheating too and a fair amount of crumbs. But definitely pink cheeks and happy kids. By the way, this would work great for picnics! Now, I just need the equivalent as a draughts board to play Tiffins against Rocky Roads and devour any captured…
Gluten and wheat free but full of happiness! #summerperk
Perk!er, gloriously gluten free
Tesco, Sainsbury’s & Asda
Notting Hill. Its pastel painted houses, Bohemian Chic feel, its independant boutiques… And yet, most people stay on Portobello Road. Next time, head for Kensington Road instead: jewel gardens, an explosion of flowers, Edwardian architecture radiant in white paint.
Further down the street, you will find a blue and white tiled mosaic, a patchwork of designs, reminiscent of the gorgeous azulejos in Porto. This is the Notting Hill Kitchen, serving authentic Iberian cuisine. Chef Luis Baena plays with both Spanish and Portuguese influences, adding a pinch of modernity. Add to this his own creativity - it is not simply about beautiful dishes here but designing whole palettes of flavours.
Choose your room. One is nicely dimmed, the other more private, the last two open up on the street through admirable arched windows. Sunshine filters softly through, makes glasses twinkle, echoing on the sculpted contour of the ceiling. Foodies will nod at the salted flakes in their liège box, the olive oil on the tabel. Why not start with a glass of Quintaluna 2012, a white Spanish wine produced by Ossian. Its hues might look like a Sauternes but this is deceiving. Crisp, refreshing, pure as spring water, a fantastic minerality (the rain is filtered by sand before reaching the roots of the vines), citrus and vanilla. Indulge in a few tapas too. I recommend the spider crab brioche, sprinkled with cumin and warmly spiced, filled with the tender flesh mixed with a silky, enchanting mayonnaise… and the Oyster croqueta, an inconic recipe created by the chef in 1982, still having the same success today. Crispy outside, creamy heart, all the flavours of the sea are there. Close your eyes, you will almost feel the salty mist around you. And look, see that edible leaf? It’s all in the name. Oyster leaf, tastes exactly like it.
Coming back from the US inspired by surf’n’turf, I decided on the Octopus Rice, a traditional risotto in Portugal. The rice, you see, is cooked with red wine, infusing its very fiber, bringing the red fruit across, sharpened by fresh coriander. Chorizo adds the pepperiness, spicy, full of sunshine vibe. The octopus was very tender indeed, very theatrical in presentation, rising up, wrapped in the crunchiest batter you can imagine.
No hesitation for dessert - I stopped right at the words olive oil sorbet, bringing the chilly, velvety, fruity emulsion to absolute perfection. I will take this over chocolate any day. The cake brought juicy grapes and dulce de leche like caramel together, another slice of heaven. Even better with a glass of tawny or a nice espresso.
A quiet, soothing atmosphere, away from the touristy crowd. Refined cuisine - a different side of Spain… Ideal for romantic dinners. And brunches, they do brunches, my friends!
Notting Hill Kitchen
92 Kensington Park Rd
London W11 2PN
Shoreditch is a great place to party. On Sunday, Brick Lane is putting the bunting up. Their village fête will have hula hoops, DJs, Lily Vanilli’s famous cakes, treats from Portugal, lots of foodie stores, hip hop dancers and more… Shoreditch will be also be on the African side, just a few streets away the same day, with music, dance workshops, a moroccan style salon, fashion, movies and even a kids space.
1. Super skilled Shoreditch artists will take over the V&A for their late evening on Friday. Guaranteed surprises! Even street artist Malarky will join in, redecorating the central garden with Keith Harring inspired sculptures.
2. Take the little ones to Archikids this weekend. They can go play architect, build with Lego, design a skyline, experiment with materials… Free, all over town.
4. Did you know Charlie Chaplin movies used to be projected for WW1 veterans? The immersive Fuel Theatre is recreating the experience.
5. Join the disco / retro vibe of this summer skate party on Saturday, from 2pm to midnight.
6. See a film at the open air cinema in Battersea Power Station, in the gardens, before the place is transformed into luxurious appartments. Reservoir dogs, Rocky, Pinocchio, Natural Born Killers… There will be a street feast too, should you be hungry.
7. No budget to go down to Brighton? Try Camden Beach instead, until August 23rd. It’s free and will have 150 tons of sand, end-of-the-pier amusements, beach huts, a rooftop garden, a swimming pool, ping pong and live music.
8. Prince George has celebrated his first birthday. An exhibition on royal childhood opens in parallel at Buckingham Palace to give you on insight on the past generations. There will be luxurious and nostalgic toys, including some given to George himself like Boris’ miniature Barclays Bike.
9. Follow a poetry trail at King’s Cross.
10. The wonder of shops with two vocations: you will find examples here like this hairdresser / Korean restaurant in Hackney.
11. See London differently, with a Stanley Kubrick vibe.
12. If you have been to the US, you miss the food. There is more to it than junk food. Here is a list of US inspired places in the capital to fix your cravings.
13. To celebrate their 25th birthday, Magnum will distribute 25,000 free ice creams on Regent Street this Sunday.
14. The Sumo Run, is back on Sunday. I can’t help but love this race in gigantic sumo costumes! For a good cause and totally irresistible… It starts in Battersea Park.
15. There will be quite a Brazilian party at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Sunday. Carnaval themed with samba, salsa, caipoera, costumes and more.
♪♫♪♫ Click on the map to locate the events ♪♫♪♫
A woman’s weakness, to fall for the beauty of the product, reason fading away. The precise grain of the packaging, that radiance, beige, a Burberry signature, down to the Tartan taking on a metallic touch, the straight rectangular design of the bottle, the nail varnish as precious as a nectar…
Burberry nail varnish - Nude Beige #100 & Storm Grey #203
Oh the joy, after spending 4 weeks going from one neutral motel to another in the USA, to finally find a place with a soul in Paris. Direction Villa Daubenton, an appart-hotel in a quiet street . You can even leave your window open without being bothered by the traffic noise. Ideally placed close to the Rue Mouffetard, with its deli shops, its restaurants, its street art, its market on Sundays. Putting your suitcases down, it does not feel like another passing place. It feels like arriving in your own Paris flat.
Stella Cadente had decorated the room (remember Hôtel Original!). Emerald green, a blue befitting jewels, gold on the frames, metallic nails adding presence to the bed stand, feathers on the lamp. Such glamour, such elegance. Discreet but powerful touches. A Hollywood vibe in the bathroom, to make you smile, forget jetlag and tiredness. A cute kitchen, vintage chairs against traditional tiles. The flat I’d love to have for real. And of course, there is a large flatscreen and free wifi! Ah, a slice of luxury.
No breakfast room here as you have a kitchen to prepare what you fancy (you will find two tiny supermarkets in Rue Mouffetard to stock up) but you can also get a tray delivered right to your door and it is quite a delicious feeling indeed… Best way to start a stay in the city of lights!
34, rue de l’arbalète
Summer calls for parties. Any occasion will do. It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to involve lots of cooking and it doesn’t have to be expensive. For this one we just got a couple boxes of Perk!er treats - Rocky Road bites with lots of chocolate, biscuits and marshmallows, ideal for sharing. They are gluten free but everybody absolutely loves them. You can, if you really want to indulge, use them for a chocolate fondue… Go crazy. Get out all those accessories stocked for nice occasions (and in the end, barely used). Go bright pink, then add turquoise and neon green. It’s July, it’s allowed, it works. Put fruit with the cakes and sprinkle with a rain of tiny flowers. Tea should be served iced (and possibly with sunglasses). Sometimes, just a little imagination is enough to make you feel on holiday in the garden…
Gluten and wheat free but full of happiness! #summerperk
Perk!er, gloriously gluten free
Tesco, Sainsbury’s & Asda
Kanab, sweet little town, famous in its time for the Western movies staged there. Here too, you will find sand dunes. Not as imposing as the Great Sand Dunes, sure, but irresistible all the same. Tinted a pink-orangy colour, duly named coral pink sand dunes, echoing the surrounding canyon rock. Nature is ever-present - jackrabbits, beetles, seas of yellow blooms like minature suns, glimpses of violet petals. As quickly covered as they had appeared, often half buried, creating sharp shadows around. The blurry features on the pictures? The wind sculpting the tip of the dunes, dancing the sand away. Such a soothing music to the ears, a little more brutal feeling on the legs. On that day there was a photo-shoot, young, beautiful girls in bikinis posing patiently, waves of tiny grains whipping them from time to time. Further on, wheel traces. Yes, parts of the park are accessible to ATVs if you like sensational rides!
Propose a gluten-free snack to a friend on a normal diet and just watch their reaction. Perplexed usually sums it up well. In people’s minds, gluten-free definitely means fun-free. Then again, at the beginning, it probably was. The first range of products were practical, forgetting the flavour factor altogether. Basics only. These days, supermarkets always have a few shelves dedicated to these and they taste much, much better. However, if you’re looking for something a bit fancier, you will have to go fishing, a little in this shop, a little more in that, juggling around.
Or you could try Freego, an extraordinary collection of the best gluten free products on the market, selected from all around the world. Some in my shopping bag were American, others French. Quality wise, this is more deli than supermarket. Being a foodie and rather curious, I had quite a fun time. Choosing and devouring! I did expect the bill to be high but no, it proved quite reasonable. My order below was just under £20.
Bonus point for the delivery option - within 24 hours and you will receive a SMS when it is ready to go, confirming the day and time window. And even the possibility to text back and ask for the driver to bring it a day later or leave it at your neighbour’s.
Verdict? I knew the products would be good but they were better than that. Refined, even. Like going to Selfridges and choosing from their latest trends. But hey, have a look at my selection below, it will give you a feel. The pumpkin bread mix was rather a hit, filling the house with scents of cinnamon and nutmeg while in the oven. A lighter (and better) version of gingerbread. Another favourite was rice cakes covered in super delicious dark chocolate. You will forget any junk food snack instantly. This is a hundred times better and no, I am not exaggerating. What else? Really satisfying fettuccine made with mungo beans, more Spring like. Super savoury-sweet, bacon-maple syrup popcorn that really wowed the kids. Dried physalis, golden berries bringing a lovely tart taste, a nice change from the usual dried fruit.
A real booty for any foodie, no matter whether you are coeliac or not. Collections are cleverly organised in lunch box, on the go, kids, dinner party, just in case… Makes life so much easier.
Use the code REFER10-7dsa8d3h2 to get £10 off an order of £20 or more. Give it a try!
We all need sparkles in all life. Literally and figuratively.
I met these sparkling Superdry shoes back in June. I fell in love immediately, adopted them on the spot. There’s a little touch of Oz in them, click your heels three times, let’s see where life takes us. And these have been on quite a journey already. A quick stop in Paris then off to the US for a roadtrip, checking out another Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas (quite a good copy, isn’t it?), walking through a few National Parks, enjoying a cool ride in Napa Valley (you only live once)… They also celebrated the 4th of July in San Francisco, finding their way through the city from North Beach to Chinatown, finishing on a zen meditation in the Japanese garden. They returned to a rather rainy Paris, still intact, still glistening happily.
They proved the ideal way to make people smile, break the ice, start a conversation. Amazing how all generations are drawn to these shoes. They’re a fantastic signature. People knew me for my red hair, they find find me even more radiant now. They may not remember my name but ah, the French accent and these highlights make me memorable…
Who knows what adventures await us now?
27 degrees, sun shining high, yes, summer is here for real. It’s picnic time, my friends! Last minute idea, no time to prepare anything? Mark & Spencer has just launched a special deli collection, inspired by South America and the Eastern Med. So forget classics for a while, indulge. We tried the smoked Lochmuir salmon, rich, just the right hint of salt, sharpened by a lime, chilli and ginger dressing, zesty, wakes you up a little. Still on the seaside, how about chargrilled calamari to be dipped in a spicy sauce with a little mint, fresh spring onions and herbs. It’s even better as a mini skewer combined with the ruby and golden beetroot medley, marinated in a basalmic and maple dressing. It’s fun, it’s different and it makes lunch time so much more interesting than eating a triangle sandwich over your desk.
To be tasted too: tequila-lime chicken wings, tomato-basil hummus, mini kebabs with pomegranate and cumin, soy-lemongrass-chilli chicken and more!
Smoked Scottish Lochmuir™ Salmon with a zesty Lime, Chilli & Ginger Dressing, £6, 160g
Chargrilled Calamari with Lime, Chilli & Mint, £4.50, 140g
Ruby & Golden Beetroot Medley, £3, 150g