Posts Tagged ‘South Kensington’

South Kensington farmer’s market – colours of the season

Brought down by autumn? Just make a detour via  South Kensington farmers’ market to discover a bright new palette of colours. Oh, to try new recipes with these bright hues and create a fireworks of oranges, yellows, green!

Farmers’ market
Bute Street, South Kensington, SW7 3EX
Every Saturday from 09.00 to 14.00

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Comptoir Libanais

How better to describe the Comptoir Libanais than to compare it to a ray of sunshine on a dull rainy day? A little travel in itself – a brightly coloured universe, mouthwatering mezze, gorgeous mountains of exotic cakes… Instinctively, your gaze will wander on the tables around you, choosing your meal already, slightly disappointed not to be able to reach out with your fork and try a little bit of this lovely dish on your left.

Their new address in South Kensington already is quite a success and is just adored locally. The terrace overlooks the pedestrian street and is a real pleasure in any sunny day. Let alone, being just outside the tube and on the way to Hyde Park, what a better place to select a picnic?

The menu is as exotic as in the other branches – takes you elsewhere in just a few bites. Start with their homemade lemonades like the apple-ginger-mint (£2.35) to put you in the mood or the orange blossom and pomegranate for a more poetic touch: such a welcome change from the usual soft drinks.

Now let go. Don’t resist. I found it hard to focus on the menu -  too many delicious descriptions! Really, the best plan is to come here with a wonderful friend and choose a wide selection of dishes to share. It is ever so pleasant to butterfly from one plate to another, combining tastes and textures randomly, creatively. Like those Lamb Kibbeh (£4.65), filled with fragrant lamb, onion and pine nuts. Or a salt and sweet effect with the grilled paneer served with an amazing fig and rose jam.

Don’t know where to start? Go right to the counter and get yourself a selection like this one (on the menu for £7.95 also exists as a bigger version for 2). Hummus to die for, slightly smoked aubergine dip, falafel with its rich notes of chickpea and coriander, a freshly made tabbouleh, slightly lemony, a lovely lentil salad, amazing bright pink pickled turnip slices, a sambousek filled with melting feta and warm triangles of pita bread. Quite a feast.

If you are after something warm, moussaka, koftas, shish taouks also are on the card and smell ever so nice. I chose their gorgeous tajine (£7.95) with aubergines  -  the tastes linger on the tastebuds, ending on the sweet chickpea note, the velvety touch of red pepper, oh and just a little bit of that organic yogurt too. Impossible not to add semolina to the dish, the sauce just calls for it.

Meat lovers will probably go straight to the mixed grill (£12.95) -  lamb and chicken kofta, marinated chicken cooked as shish taouk, generous portions, rice cooked with minutely cut onion, matching the nutty taste of the grilled meat.

It is easy to order so many dishes that you will barely have a space for deserts – remember those piles of cakes that just beg to be eaten. Obviously, Comptoir Libanais knows and has little plates all prepared with a few to take away. Or you could enjoy the nearby museums and come back for a touch of sweetness afterwards: those are lovely treats with hearts of hazelnut, walnut, cashew nuts or heavy with honey…

After all, what better than an exotic afternoon tea to take away the winter blues? Pour yourself a cup of mint and rose tea (£2.45) and you will be spell-binded, ready to dream away.

On the side is a small deli with thousand colours – Moroccan honey, date cream with almonds, rose or pomegranate syrup… – just what you need to take this little holiday pause back home.

Comptoir Libanais
1-5 Exhibition Road
London SW7 2HE

Teatime in Wonderland was a guest of Comptoir Libanais.

Tokyo Sisters ou la magie niponne

Ah, le Japon, ces contrastes permanents entre tradition et modernité, la fascination du kawai, les tenues excentriques du cosplay contre kimono et chignon impeccablement lissés… Un univers qui laisse perplexe parfois, rêveur toujours.

Julie Rovéro-Carrez  et Raphaëlle Choël ont eu la chance d’habiter, d’arpenter Tokyo et se sont lancées dans l’aventure: comment les Japonaises trouvent-elles un tel équilibre? Quelles pensées derrière cette méticulosité du moindre geste, cette perfection du moindre art, cette zénitude en toute circonstance? Pour mieux comprendre cet art de vivre, elles ont rencontré et interviewé 50 femmes de tous horizons: mariées, célibataires, femmes au foyer, business women…

Les auteures avouent ne pas avoir “la prétention d’avoir tout compris. Un jour on est fier de cerner un aspect de la civilisation, le lendemain, tout bascule. Les nœuds se font, se défont, se refont… Le Japon, c’est l’école de l’humilité.” L’ouvrage se lit comme un conte moderne, chaque chapitre proposant quelques clés pour mieux se plonger de la culture tokyoite. On se régale, on imagine les bars karaoke délirants avec déco différente de chaque pièce, cabines pour petit ou grand groupe, option jacuzzi… On salive devant les menus locaux, sashimis, sushis, ramen… On admire la précision de la cérémonie du thé… On sourit, on rit aux éclats, on s’étonne, on prend des notes, on reconsidère sa propre culture, on prend en sagesse en lisant les témoignages de ces femmes dédiées à la finesse d’un art de vivre, qu’il soit séculaire ou ultra-moderne. On aimerait, à notre tour, s’asseoir avec elles, les écouter, poser mille questions, comprendre comment elles s’y épanouissent.

Un voyage immobile qui se dévore.

Quel rapport avec Londres? Raphaëlle Choël présentera le livre à la librairie La Page ce samedi 20 novembre. Venez la rencontrer, posez vos questions, faire signer votre ouvrage, trinquer avec elle!

Présentation de Tokyo Sisters le 20 novembre 2010, de 14.00 à 20.00
Librairie La page
7 Harrington Rd
London SW7 3ES

Tombo, Japanese deli and cafe

In the heart of the French quarters, a dose of exotism!

Forget greasy Asian take-away. This Japanese address focuses on a handful of dishes but all of them are exquisite. Design sushis, bento boxes, a few deli dishes, finger licking deserts (lavender-blueberry cheesecake, green tea macaroon, geen tea-raspberry cupcake…) even mochis. Bonus points for the rice sprinkled with sesame seeds. As for drinks. tea loves can rejoyce with a lovely range and heavenly iced matchas and houjichas.

Not that cheap (£7.90 for the bento box) but you will come back again and again for the quality of the ingredients, the kindness of the staff, the elegant but relaxed deco.

29 Thurloe Place
South Kensington
London SW7 2HQ

Post-it for the week-end: Sept 17-19, 2010


Gosh, is that autumn already? Where did I put my sweaters, scarves, boots? This is a weather to try and find the best hot chocolate around (Try William Curley’s at his desert bar, you will not regret it! The Artisan Chocolat @ Portobello is also worth a detour). Brrrrrr, my friends! Let’s go for a jogging around London to warm up…

- Treat yourself to an elegant summer lunch @ the Miller Harris tea room

- Or just pretend you’re in the south of France

- Free movie, anyone?

- Inspired by Soane, a variety of artists (including Damien Hirst, Vivienne Westwood) have given a dedicated work of art. The Soane’s museum is a little gem anyway, go and see it!

- Open houses this week-end with a number of private and/or historical houses and buildings open to the public. It will be crowded for sure!

- The design festival is also on. Such a long list of exhibitions! I can’t wait to see the robotic arms wave @ Trafalgar Square… There will also be a giant magnetic coin on Southbank

- Walk up extraordinary stairs

- Be a geek. Visit the V&A with this podcast

- You are going to love Finnish designers. There’s even a pop-up restaurant planned.

- British icons revisited

- Clapham goes green

- Have  a toast: a new beer for London!

-  Sweet tooth? Try the Agatha Christie afternoon tea @ the Brown’s hotel… or rush to Harvey Nichols to try Claire Clark’s pastries: how mot to dream of her sesame opera or her rose-raspberry eclair?

- Revise your alphabet with Eine

- Are you a street art fan? The Londonist will now propose a map per artist

- Don’t forget horseman’s Sunday – it’s only once a year!

You’ll find me @ Covent garden’s fashion fete: vintage, retro, fashion and cupcakes! I also plan to add a few pigeons @ the V&A… and have dinner in an interactive restaurant. How about you?
Pssst: Westfield organised a fashion car boot sale next week …

An improbable grave @ the V&A

6 years of regular visits to the v&A and I have just noticied these two plaques in the Pirelli yard:

Henry cole was the first director of the museum. still used to this day!

He is also known for having commissioned the first commercial Xmas card. Back in 1842, one would have handwritten a note to friends and families, wishing them the very best. Busy as he was with the daily business of the V&, cole decided to have an illustration done by a proper artist,  depicting a family life and showing the sentence A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you – still This proved so successful that a thousand were printed the following year and sold for a shilling each.

Another anecdote – the British Treasury decided to tax letters and launched a competition for a stamp design. The projects proposed were disappointing and it was decided to use Queen Victoria’s profile instead. It was Cole who provided the sketch -  the same one you still see on your mail today.

What about the dogs? Well Cole loved his dog -  Jim -  and would not part with him, the dog followed happily through the museum. At his death, the director decided to have him buried there too as they had spent so much time there together. He did the same with his next dog, Tycho. What an improbable find in a museum of art!

Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL

Another thought for aimals with this war memorial…

Post-it for the week-end: August 27-30, 2010

I’m back! Now, let’s see what’s new in the city…

- On Thursday, don’t miss this aquatic exhibition

- …or enjoy a free curry!

- This way for a free musical @ Sadler’s Wells

- A few dance steps @ the Tate Modern… (By the way, time Out has a 2 for 1 offer for the Exposed exhibition)

-… or an alternative village fete, maybe?

- Always a favourite: Notting Hill carnival!

- Feel nostalgic with this exhibition on Jimy Hendrix

- I never tire of this yearly press pictures exhibition

- Discover a few secret places in the National Theatre

- Treat yourself to an afternoon tea with an Asian touch

- So you think you know London?

- By the way, do you know the story of the Crystal Palace?

- Yes, pubs and opera can be in harmony, who would have thought so!

- Try to get a ticket for this fab underground dinner!

- Fed up with pop-up shops? Why not give this pop-up cinema a go? It used to be a petrol station.

- Get the kids to learn more abour bats!

- Be zen in a Japanese garden… (give this one a try too!)

You’ll find me… strolling through Chelsea Physics gardens… Testing this edible exhibition… Checking out the Natural History Museum’s 8m long knitted squid… Enjoying some retro glamour at the V&A late night… Where will YOU be?

A patch of wilderness @ the Natural History Museum

South Kensington is where we usually start all our London adventures. Simply because we can park for free on Saturday afternoons and Sundays (so precious!).  We also love the nighbourhood for all its treats: velvet cupcakes @ Hummingbird’s bakery… Ben’s cookies for its biscuits with half melted chips… cheese @ the Cave a fromage… sandwich on real French bread @ Paul’s… Frozen yogurts @ Snog… Is it surprising the first thing we do is improvise a picnic?

And we know just the place for it in the summer, a little patch of countryside. Just there, close to the dinosaur’s house, as my daughter calls it. Freedom on the eft side of the Natural History Museum, my friends!

The tourists and family focus on the museum only and not that many people seem to know this sweet wildlife garden. You will often find you’re the only ones there… A nice place to escape the London urban jungle and for a few minutes you can pretent to be on holiday, far away. The kids will chase buterflies and damselflies… Bees are dancing from one flower to another. Look out for a squirrel or a water hen between the lilies and irises…

At the end of the summer, two sheeps even join the party. For the kid’s happiness? Not only: those are the perfect organic lawnmowers… Add to that they will trample dead leaves into the ground and accelerate the compost process.

Recently, a fox family even settled there. Very little chance for you to see them – as for the bats, they mainly come out at night. But knowing this adds to the charm of the garden…

Don’t miss the surprising mystery statue just at the entrance!

Wildlife Garden
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road,
London SW7 5DB

The garden is open from April 01st to october the 01st, 10.00-17.00. Free.

Post-it for the week-end: July 30 – August 01, 2010

Oh well, I have tried and tried but my thoughts keeps strolling from my work files but they do keep straying towards the week-end…

- Fancy a free haircut on Friday? Check this way…

- The Natural History Museum will stay open late. Jazz? Glass of wine on the Darwin center terrasse? Night walk in the wildlife garden?

- Party @ the V&A Summer Camp. Bombay Sapphire will have a design cardboard bar with stylised cardboard glasses (but real cocktails). A great way to enjoy their late evening.

- You can even go on to the Serpentine pavillion and sleepover… Midnight feast, films and even breakfast in the morning…

- I really must try to find a free Saturday morning and do this guided tour of the Somerset House!

- The extraordinary Chilly Gonzales will be @ the field day on Saturday…

- Latin fever @ the Carnaval del pueblo!

- Even more music with the Croydon festival

- A classic, but have you done it yet? Buckingham Palace is open for the summer….

- Have a spooky evening

- Saturday, head for Brick Lane: free cocktails, demo of Urban Art and even a tattoo session! You might also decide to stay around and go bowling in this fab diner… Perfect for Sunday’s festival: bowling but British, music and dancing!

- It’s open air cinema season! A whole programme @ the Somerset House… Act crazy for Mamma Mia and choose funky colours… The Wapping Project proposes a barbecue with your movie…

- You already knew routemasters could ne recycled as veggie restaurants (the root-master is my favourite). Well, one of those goes around, proposing German food!

- Oooooh, as soon as I’m on holiday, I am going to book myself one of those fab afternoon teas… Now, chocolate or pink? (vegan and gluten free versions are proposed)

-What about the kids? Little ones will love the teddies picnic @ Covent Garden on Saturday… Teenagers will much prefer to go to the underage festival!

- Give! Exchange!

Pssst, heads up for next week! There will be a maze @ Trafalgar (with dragons and Chinese cooking on Tuesday). And Selfridge’s is to open their Xmas shop too…

Hey, anyone has a great address for a roof terrasse for cocktails?

Post-it for the week-end June 25-27, 2010

A whole week of sun, even a mini heat-wave… guys, it’s barbecue-time and Pimms: let’s celebrate!

- The pianos are back! pretend you’re Mozart, improvise, make everybody dance…

- Oooh, it’s time for the V&A late night, on architecture this time. And there will be jazz too…

- By the way, it’s the festival of architecture with plenty going on!

- Be zen this week-end with taichi and yoga workshops @ Greenwich park

- The summer festival is back @ the National theatre and there will be plenty of free shows on the stage on Southbank…. check out the program!

- Great, the beach is still there!And the appearing rooms also are back at the Southbank centre – the kids love those…

- Make your bets for the dragon boat race!

- Have a taste of honey @ Barbican

- Rediscover London with songs

- Are you ready for Wimbledon? I’m not but this tennis themed afternoon tea looks just perfect to me….

- Take your little ones to see the Charlie and Lola exhibition

How will you enjoy the sun? I’m escaping to Paris for the week-end, ohlala!


This Week End in London

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