Posts Tagged ‘Knightsbridge’

The Berkeley Prêt-à-Portea afternoon tea

Tired of the classical afternoon tea, Earl Grey, scones and clotted cream? Go for the wow factor and try the fashion version at The Berkeley. A mini catwalk made entirely of sweets, inspired by the latest designer collection and served on colourful china created by Paul Smith. After haute-couture, taste haute-pâtisserie!

Savoury treats are still on the menu – different kind of bread even a delicious mini-bun. But also fragrant and palate-pleasing spoonfuls of salmon sashimi wrapped in poppy seeds, elegant crab curry,  beef satay rich in peanut taste, wasabi infused mousse, pepper gazpacho spiced with a drop of tabasco… All very velvety in texture, concentrated in flavours to smoothly wake up the tastebuds.

Forget scones -  you will not need those with the gorgeous festival awaiting you. Masterpieces with sugar taking leopard or rainbow hues, folding like fabric, being hemmed in amazing shapes. How skillful to reinvent the luxurious dresses in a sweet way! And so you will mmmmh on the Dolce and Gabana bag in braided chocolate, hiding a bite of moist blueberry cake. You will alternate spoonfuls of the Mulberry inspired dessert in pastel hues (mint cream, white chocolate, a cloud of raspberry mousse topped with a lemon curd meringue) and the Jason Wu one (a cherry bavarois with an exotic coconut cream and on top a sugar pink dress showing a leg and high heel). You will bite into biscuits dedicated to Louboutin‘s red soles and Miu Miu 1950ies glamorous red bikini. Michael Kor‘s leopard signature also brings a touch of sublime to the best opéra I have tasted so far, rivaling easily with Parisian versions of the cake – dense, creamy, rich. As fantastic is the art deco triangle reflecting the metallic touches of a  Gucci dress: a decadent Valrhona mousse with a hint of Grand-Marnier and golden jeweled popping candy to catch the light. You will hesitate to cut into the Valentino pyramid – under the multicolour white chocolate frosting is a heart of the most delicate champagne jelly. Keep the Fendi till last – this red and white striped vanilla cake hides a strawberry cream closed with an edible giant button.

The usual selection of teas (Earl Grey, Assam…) is available but the range also includes tempting choices like caramel-pear or mint-chocolate truffle. Also a must-try, the fabulous fruit infusions. Nothing to do with boring tea bags, we  are talking candied fruit, a very delicate drink when infused with hot water. much more refreshing than a tea and matches the cakes perfectly. Funky Fruits, Posh Pomelo & Melon, Luscious Lemon and Amazing Apple, Gorgeous Ginger (a gem) are sure to surprise you. And I guarantee you will not resist eating the fruit after your last sip.

Verdict? The perfect afternoon tea after an afternoon shopping (Harvey Nichols is a two minutes walk from there), with girlfriends, after a fashion-themed exhibition (think Louboutin at the Design Museum until July 09 2012 or Ballgowns a the V&A until January 06 2013). This will switch the day from perfect to memorable. Not to be missed either, from May 29 to June 09, the Jubilee version, presenting some of the iconic hats worn by the royal family.

The Prêt-à-portea afternoon tea (£35 per person, £49 with a glass of champagne)
The Berkeley
Wilton Place
London SW1X 7RL

(Gluten and nut free alternatives are available – just let the hotel know a minimum of 24 hours in advance)

Bar Boulud – the sweetest cocktail

A bunch of flowers?
Try something new.

Like taking your loved one to share a White Cosmopolitan at Bar Boulud. This is one of the trendiest, must-be-seen-at places in town so make sure you book first.

It is all about the surprise. In your martini glass, rose petals or gorgeous edible flowers are sealed in a jewel of ice. They will unfold slowly as it melts. A jug containing your cocktail is brought separately, to be poured on top.

The dancing notes of Cointrau, vodka and white cranberry have never tasted that good…

Bar Boulud
Mandarin Oriental
66 Knightsbridge
London SW1X 7LA

Flower power at the Andipa Gallery

The Chelsea Flower Show is getting near. Even artists are blooming.

The Andipa Gallery presents works by 8 artists inspired by the Victorian art of associating a feeling with a flower. With a modern twist to it.
Some great works -  we particularly loved Yken Teruya’s minute paper cutting. The web site‘s wortha  virtual walk too – so much strength in such a fragile media!

Henny Burnett takes a few steps in a poetic world. Fascinating work on transparence and lights.

A time-suspended bunch of urban flowers.

Andipa Gallery
162 Walton street
London SW3 2JL
Until June 06, 2011 – free

The Perfume Diaries @ Harrods

Perfumes often are the essence of memories. Notes of spices, fruits, flowers… which take us years back. Childhood fashbacks to your mother’s perfumes, your father’s after-shave. Or even a cake just out of the oven. Warm and comforting. Remember the vanilla note of an evening cup of hot milk?

To me they also are milestones in one’s life. The very first perfume you choose, a young woman and not a little girl anymore. The switch to another fragrance when you start a new chapter of your life. The ones that enable you ot be someone else by adding formidable glamour -  the world seems to be yours, you are a femme fatale. Others are much fresher, remind oyu of sunny holidays, a walk in the countryside, the breeze along the seaside. The Eau de Cologne that was once used as a tonic for the skin…

The bottle is equally important -  tactile, decorative, artistic. You know the details by heart, can trace them with your eyes closed. It sits in the bedroom, alonf a sparkling jewel, a somptuous eye shadow, a glossy lipstick. Once empty, they are kept for their beauty. I like to collect different format of my favourite ones. don’t mention limited editions!

Harrods had the formidable idea to take us back in time by tracking the history of the most famous brands: Lanvin, Balanciaga, Floris, Cartier, Dior… They are all there. You will be amazed by the splendid bottles, the Art Deco side of Baccarat, old fashioned names, the design changes… Little bottles are available to have a sniff as well of the main names.

Quite interesting too to learn about the influence of the social and economical context on the trends. Did you know that appeasing vanilla notes were favoured in the 1920ies because of the Depression? Or that the amazing lines of planes and cars in the 1930ies changed those of the bottles? And look at the very first ones, almost square, inspired by the medicine bottles… What an evolution!

Do not leave without a glimpse at the handwritten ledger from Floris, the letter from Florence Nightingale… even one from Churchill!

No wonder this takes you straight to the perfume counter…

The Perfume Diaries - Until October 02, 2010
4th Floor
87-135 Brompton Road
London SW3 1RT

Life’s a bitch (woof woof)

We have all met a doggy friend dressed to the ninths:

American? ParisHiltonian? Nope. Right here, on Leicester Square.

Makes me wonder where they suceeded to get such an outfit from.

Well, Harrods definitely is a treasure chest -  you’ll find everything there! Follow me, this is just after the department for kids clothes above £100/item…

Oh and to say it’s fashion week soon! And no, the catepillar disguise is not part of the Halloween range:

Next is the toy range. Gosh, that is close to scary:

You think you have seen it all? Tsss. I had found in the US cookies and cupcakes made specially for dogs. With proper messages in icing on top: good boy, good girl. But this is taking it to a new level:

Amazing, hey? Have you seen the prices? If your banker will not allow such a treat, you can rely on the recipe book instead…

Oh, and don’t forget a little something to drink to gulp the whole thing down:

A last smile (I’m French. Why, oh, why, did it have to be made in MY country?!):

Pet Kingdom 4th floor
87-135 Brompton Road
London SW3 1RT

Be merry @ Harrods’ Xmas shop

The British keep a fascinating relationship to Xmas. From respecting splendid traditions to a terrifying commercial exploitation of the theme, or even modernizing it to the extreme (I saw fluo Xmas tress @ selfridge’s last year with sparkly reindeers)…

And they start preparing it early. I mean real early. Like now.

In August, a few cards will appear on the shelves here and there. Supermarkets will start promoting 1kg tin boxes of Celebrations and Quality Street – buy one get one free! Pubs and restaurants will hurry you to book your Xmas party, you don’t want to be late and left out, do you? In September, shops will shyly put forward their themed products too.

Even more fascinating are Selfridge’s and Harrods’ Christmas shops. At the latter, a huge room is dedicated to the occasion, thousands of decorations and cards arranged with great care… The whole place takes a leap in time:

For serial shoppers, this is true happiness. I have seen Americans buying a pile of real feathers angel wings… Japanese walking around with a basket of  bright garlands and balls… French admiring traditional candy canes…

But the real tourist hasn’t been forgotten:

Each one will find the perfect icon to decorate the tree this year…

In this country, you will even find cards for cats and dogs. Mums do not escape the fashion either:

Ideal gift for a baby shower, even if the decoration probably will only be used once.

Of course, you’ll find the perfect shoe size, er, stocking size to fit your wishlist…

Don’t forget the crackers…

…although you will find some will definitely explode your budget!

Xmas shop 2nd floor
87-135 Brompton Road
London SW3 1RT

Rococo, a chocolate heaven

British are not know for their chocolatier, bur believe me my friends this one steps aside.

Instinct usually guides me to complex, poetic, floral alliances: jasmin… orange and geranium… basil… Moroccan mint… Here you’ll also find starwberry or fig marshmallows. Enought to get your radar mad! But classics are a little piece of heaven too.  Do fall for the chocolate and liquid salted caramel. Oh, I have to close my eyes even now.

Decoration is retro, comforting. A bunch of flowers made with colourful sugared almonds here, chocolate laybugs there. The packaging was inspired by an French engraving of 19th century chocolate mould an declined in different colours – butterflies cut out of it fly away on the walls.

As Petra from the Choc star van, Chantal Coady was led by her passion for chocolate. A punkish art sudent, she just jumped for adventure in 1983 – only with a few weeks experience at Harrod’s. Well, that’s a lesson: always follow oyur dreams, especially if they’re 70% cocoa made.

Do prefer the Knightsbridge boutique.  A window in the floor gives a view of the workshops going on. You can take chocolate lessons here, whether you’re a grown-up or a junior chocoholic.

This is one of my secret hideaways. There is a tiny garden behind -  a lovely court, only a handful of tables, white walls, mosaics and a few white roses… Blue sky above you, round mirrors reflecting details… So peaceful! Get rid of your watch and iphone, get a coffee and one of their marvelous truffles and just forget everything.

Rococo Chocolates
5 Motcomb Street

Vegans will find their heaven here too.
Cross the street and gasp at the huge meringues and splendid tarts from
Macaron-fans will be delighted to learn Pierre Herme will be opening his boutique a street away from here in September 2010. You’ll have to beat me there!

Harrods – a somptuous food court

Tourist stepping into Harrod’s are often so fascinated with the richness of the food court that they forget to raise their eyes to the Art Nouveau tiles… Sadly, there’s no information to be found abour them on the web. Only the artist’s name, WJ Neatby, does come back as well as the creation date, 1902 (this Harrods building opened in 1905).

On the meat and fish side, the works are dedicated to the key animals…

Each door is surmounted by semi-circular pannel inviting the visitor to step ahead…

The theme is even kept on the fruit and veg side, lemoms and grapes up to the ceilings!

Keep your eyes up for this last one, still pretty modern althouh it is more than a 100 years old, a colourful stained windows ceiling…

And if you feel like practising your French (sorry! Plenty of pictures, though), have a look here for…
- the Egyptian escalator…
- the sweet side of the food court

87–135 Brompton Road
London, SW1X 7XL


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