fashion, food, life

i can’t help but wonder where i’m bound.

Another blog so soon? I know. A few things that couldn’t wait:

L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele opens in London tomorrow. Better still, it opens in Stoke Newington’s Church Street – aka just up the road from us. I don’t care how long the queue is: I’m queuing. When we visited Naples (May 2015), I insisted that we passed the original every day to sample the kind of street-side arancini I cannot do justice in words. That I might taste that taste again – heavenly, heavenly.

Alain de Botton’s My Writing Day in the Guardian. When a piece of writing resonates so hard you just have to shout about it. It can be the greatest freedom, sometimes, to have to repress some of what you are. I sit quietly for hours. I’ll have a sandwich at the desk. I can’t sink into despair, scream or act all poetic: other people are watching. At the office, there’s a chance to edit yourself, thankfully. That’s why I go there.

My Acne Canada scarf. Let’s face it: I’ve been eyeing it up forever – plus, I start a new job in March and you know what they say: new job, new scarf. Plus, #investmentpiece. Plus, THE PACKAGING, THOUGH. So many heart-eyes.

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fashion, food, travel

…they’ve all come to look for America.

Leaving politics at the door for the next ten minutes: I’d been to New York three times before we went again at the end of last month. We’re talking aged 10, 12 and 21 – so let’s just say: it had been a while. Despite my three-timer status, I’m still a novice and I still get caught out by $22 G&Ts and tasteless breakfast grits. That said, my city-break skills have improved with age, so I like to think I really got some things nailed, this time. Things like:

The beer. Hands down, it’s got to be Brooklyn’s Tørst – largely thanks to its drinking vessels, but also thanks to its delightfully Danish-inspired interiors, an extensive and varied beer list, knowledgeable staff and tasty bar snacks (plus a seasonal tasting menu offered out the back to those in the know – but you don’t need to splash out in there to make the most of the rest). Meanwhile, over on the edge of Manhattan’s East Village, nip into McSorleys Old Ale House for a taste of the real thing.

Pizza to die for. You know what they say: if it’s good enough for Beckham and Beyoncé, it’s good enough for me. With that in mind, get yourself to Lucali on Henry Street in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens, don’t be late, and order everything (I mean it). Without doubt: my favourite pizza experience ever – and I’ve been to Naples. We also happened to be staying around the corner from Roberta’s which doesn’t rival Lucali but beats anything I’ve been lucky enough to find in London.

The steak. In my opinion, it wouldn’t be steak in NYC if you didn’t a) eat it in Manhattan and b) have to dive into your savings to pay for it. Tick and tick at Keens. Perfect service & perfect food served to our white-linen clad table in the cosy booth we didn’t even have to ask for. For the win. My only regret is that were off to a gig so I couldn’t take my leftovers (there were many) with me.

Falafel. Sorry, we’re still on food. But if you’re crazy for a bit of the chickpea good-stuff (who isn’t?), head to Taïm and watch the Nolita (or West Village – there’s one there too) world go by. We found it to be the perfect lunch-time pit-stop – for those times when you’re ravenous from all that shopping, dinner’s still hours away and you’re after excellent, tasty value for money.

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The bridges. Okay, okay. So Brooklyn Bridge just has to be done. I’ve trod its boards four times now and it’s true – it’s iconic and makes you feel like you’ve really arrived. However, can I just bang on about the Williamsburg Bridge for a moment? It may be long, but it’s also gun grey and bubblegum pink and all kinds of brilliant industrial mastery. Aka: love at first sight.

A view. Controversial though it may be, Top of The Rock still wins for me. It’s a great view of Central Park from the Empire State, granted. One World Observatory would’ve been a better view on a better day (hello, haze) but overall feels like one big up-sell. It’s Top of The Rock, I’m afraid. There’s something about that fresh air, all the way up there, and those uninterrupted views that the glass surround allows. Meanwhile, for a Brooklyn → Manhattan view, while you’re actually sipping a Brooklyn View (Greenhook gin, Velvet Falernum, grapefruit, bubbles), I know just the place…

The Wythe Hotel. Unfortunately a bit out-of-my-league when it comes to being an actual hotel – but that doesn’t stop me soaking up the frankly breathtaking view from the Ides Bar (as mentioned above), dropping in for brunch at the Reynard, and picking up a (very sturdy, can I just say) tote bag from the shop in the lobby. I can at least pretend.

The shopping. Far too many to mention, so I’ll make it quick. The totally delightful, wanted-everything In God We Trust in Brooklyn. Shout out to the super-helpful staff in the Williamsburg branch. And in Manhattan: The Frankie Shop – which apparently has a Parisian pop-up sister. Far closer to home and the perfect excuse for nipping to Paris ASAP. À bientôt!

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food

play it one more time – one more for the road.

As soon as I read about Padella (here), it shot straight to the top of my list. And so, after work on Tuesday, we wandered over there and joined the queue. Cut to me, on a loop: Let’s get the burrata with Puglian olive oil and the borlotti bean bruschetta and some bread and share! Then I’m having the pappardelle with 8-hour beef shin ragu! Did you know it’s their signature dish! Then I’m going to have the chocolate tart! You should have the almond one! Do you want wine? I’m having wine! Etc. and so on, until we were finally seated at a table downstairs (which means my one and only photograph is sadly lacking in marble).

The food and drinks menus are small but perfectly crafted. A handful each of antipasti and hand-rolled pasta dishes, plus a couple of desserts. Trustily-chosen wines, beers, a few cocktails – and if you want a coffee? That’ll be an espresso or macchiato or nothing. Our dishes were all delicious. The pappardelle was the type of tasty you never want to end, but actually, we concluded, not a huge leap away from the kind of thing I make at home if I have 4 hours to spare on a Sunday. The taglierini with ‘nduja, mascarpone and parsley , however, was like nothing either of us had ever tasted. Hot, fresh, zingy, incredible. Next time, I plan to skip dessert and order an extra pasta dish – they’re cheap and modestly sized and just because.

My favourite bit of all? That the menu beseeches: please tell us if you don’t want parmesan.

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food, life, music

i have what i need – and sometimes the wind.

Though I love London – and ardently – sometimes I feel like I’m getting it all wrong. Sometimes we’ll wonder where to go for dinner – and minutes, hours, or even days after that, we’ll still be stumped. I deliberate on decisions like this so much precisely because I don’t want to get them wrong. I have a list longer than I could show you with my hands of places I want to go, but in that moment, none of them ever seem to quite fit. Too far away, too busy, too expensive, too niche, too deep-fried. He wants bao buns, I want mac’n’cheese. Sometimes we’ll go somewhere off-list and it’ll be brilliant and after revelling in that for a while, I’ll feel despondent and defeated because it wasn’t on my list at all and how many other brilliant places are there that haven’t made it onto my list, that I might never uncover?

And that’s just the food. The same goes for the music, the art, the comedy, the views. Our city couldn’t be richer in it all and it’s exactly that which makes me feel, all too often, like I’m getting it wrong, looking the wrong way, missing a trick. But every now and then there are the long Sunday afternoons in the pub, where the lights are just right and the rioja just flows. When you step out into the cold to catch a gig and you’re so glad you did. When you glimpse a view by chance and you feel privileged to have done so. And so, below are some of the times we’ve got it right, in this order: Elvis Perkins at Dalston Victora | Sunday afternoons at the The Red Lion, Leytonstone | This Is The Kit at the Scala | reflections on the River Lea | Sunday roasts at the Hackney Plough, Homerton | John Grant at Eventim Apollo.

   

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food, music, travel

i ain’t saying i loved you first – but i loved you best.

We nipped to Paris over the weekend, mainly to see Joanna Newsom at the Salle Gaveau, but also because – well, why not? We stayed in South Pigalle (SoPi if you’re in the know), generally lapped up the 20-degree, blue-skied November days and may even have bumped into Steve Coogan in my favourite jazz club. Oh, Paris. May I recommend Buvette for breakfast, Miznon or Holybelly for lunch, and Le Bon Saint Pourçain for dinner. Of course we left with a to-do list longer than the one we arrived with. Always the way/must nip back.

   

   

   

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food, life, travel

i look through my window so bright.

Well, we stepped into May in Naples. Also known as the place where: I discovered my new favourite pasta dish (which I’ve vowed to recreate at home, but more on that another day), ate the best arancini and pizza of my life (the best – effortlessly), explored what felt like an extra city of underground tunnels, marvelled at the sublime Museo MADRE, and stayed in the most divine converted gallery space (thanks again, airbnb). It really is a city of superlatives. And that’s without mentioning Pompeii. Here’s some phone snaps.

    

    

    

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food, life, travel

play me a song & i’ll pay you in liquor.

More retrospect coming up! We visited Copenhagen in February and, when I wasn’t busy being cold or lamenting the fact that I’m not Scandinavian, we loved it. The airbnb apartment we stayed in helped a lot – it was so good being able to make breakfast/coffee, have drinks before heading out in the evening, and generally spend a few days pretending we lived in that sort of flat in that sort of place. Oh, to dream.

I said I’d put a post together with some eat/drink/dos, so here it is. I actually found this pretty hard to pull together – there was a lot of: what was that place? you know, the place down that road? it had a funny letter in the name? you know! when we crossed that bridge and it was really cold and then we stopped for a drink! So the below is by no means comprehensive, but these are some of the things I liked the most – and if you stick to this, you’re also bound to find loads of cool stuff nearby and on your way.

I NEED A DRINK
Needless to say, I did drinking pretty well in Copenhagen. There was one cocktail bar I’ll never be able to remember the name of (if it even had one) (it was near Enghaveparken) (if that’s any help to anyone) where I tasted the most delicious twist on an Espresso Martini. It being so cold meant we always had great reason to nip into anywhere that took our fancy (I was usually drawn in by the lightbulbs), but besides the lost ones, I recommend Dyrehaven and Café Høeg.

FOOD, PLEASE
Food was our main purpose, for a change. Definitely take the walk (or cycle, if you’re a proper Scandi) out to the Copenhagen Street Food warehouse. We ended up staying here for hours, grazing away all afternoon, drinking perfect G&Ts and watching the dusk settle. Blankets were provided (I needed three). Other than that, we were based in Vesterbro, so we ended up heading to Vesterbros Originale Burgerrestaurant for burgers (great dips) and Neighbourhood for organic pizzas and cocktails (luckily I got my perfect pizza fix here, because we didn’t make it to Bæst). We had a meat feast like no other at Barbie – again, we didn’t get to check out any of its sister restaurants but they all came highly recommended too. And, finally, to the hotdogs! For the street version, check out DØP, or if you fancy a seat and a side of champagne, head to Foderbrættet.

AND THE REST
We stayed in Vesterbro (it won over Nørrebro) and I loved it. It has that un-established vibe that makes you feel like you’re the first one discovering it. Not for much longer, I imagine. It also meant we were able to party our heads off in the Meatpacking District and walk just a few streets home. On that note, I don’t think I can do the Meatpacking District justice. I can’t wait to visit it again in summertime. The club Jolene had been recommended to us, but we discovered the DJ playing 45s in Mesteren & Lærlingen on our way and that was that – I had the obligatory picture with the neon ‘Jolene’ and then Mesteren & Lærlingen stole my heart.

I told you it wouldn’t be comprehensive. And I haven’t even mentioned Jægersborggade, the street in Nørrebro where you’ll find loads of cute shops and the almighty Coffee Collective. Or the gourmet delights to be found in the Torvehellarne food market. Or the hours I spent buying tea-towels in Hay. Or the beautiful parks, beautiful homes, beautiful streets. København – we’ll be back!

P.s. I was useless at taking photos. You can blame the gloves.

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food, life

We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry / And talk about precious things.

Another lost Friday night in our new favourite local – The Grafton, Kentish Town. The sort of place that knows exactly how to quench your thirst at the end of the week (and where you forget to take a picture of your chicken and accidentally get a tab). Really, I couldn’t ask for anything more. And up this week? The Staves, Van Morrison and Morrissey – in that order. Apparently the latter is opening with The Queen is Dead. That’ll do.

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food, life

now’s the time to be sure.

Retrospective blogging – because I’ve been blog-less, if you will. And so to The Bonneville in Hackney. This had been on my list for ages and we finally picked it out for a Valentine’s meal. Turned out to be the perfect setting – a rose strewn on the table, dishcloth napkins, mis-matched vintage crockery, an imported stained-glass ceiling and a cobbled trip down a faux-Parisian alley (and that’s not to mention the T-bone steak for two). All sitting in confusingly stark contrast to the street outside. Felt like I’d landed in a (French) episode of Goodnight, Sweetheart. What a find.

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