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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life, travel

this love of life makes me weak at the knees.

We stayed at the Town Hall Hotel last week – partly for a birthday and partly just because. It’s an original Edwardian town hall turned hotel in Bethnal Green, so it was, of course, non-stop swooning. Ours was the Feature Suite, which turned out to be code for a very fancy bedroom door and oodles of character within. I even went for an uncharacteristic dip in the hotel pool. Our stay also meant a drink at the Peg & Patriot and dinner in The Corner Room, where my food was off-the-scale tasty – though I must admit the absence of side options left me hankering for a potato in any of its guises. Sadly we gave the incredible-looking Typing Room a miss – because they only offer a tasting menu [and have you met me and risk]. We also went for a couple in the very nearby Mother Kelly’s Tap Room [before dinner] [and after dinner]. I loved it all. Bethnal Green, you don’t half scrub up well.

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life, travel

there are places i remember, all my life.

Last Monday, we were in Paris. We walked along the river, lit candles in Notre-Dame and lunched at Holybelly – a few steps away from the Canal Saint-Martin and moments away from a future tragedy. Then we caught the train home. Cut to this Monday, and we’re starting the week a little sadder. Feeling connected, but disconnected; weak, but strong; despondent, but proud. I took the photograph below this time last week on the Rue Lucien Sampaix. I like to think it speaks – in its own little way – of beauty, community, tradition, love and unending hope.

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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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music, travel

she was electric blue, catching the last of the light.

…and then we went to Festival No.6 in Portmeirion. It’s been years since I’ve been to what I’ll hesitantly refer too as a ‘smaller’ festival, and I had the loveliest time getting reacquainted with it. We made friends for life and discovered some sublime new music – both of which tend to evade me when I surrender myself to those hectic few days a year on Worthy Farm (not that I’d change that for the world) – and on top of those accidental perks, we saw Badly Drawn Boy in the woods (who closed with the Stone Roses’ I Wanna Be Adored), made it into two 100-capacity Town Hall sets with the No.6 Ensemble (Gaz Coombes and James, no less), caught Steve Coogan and Chris Gifford in the Central Piazza, watched our beloveds – Belle & Sebastian and King Creosote – headline, and fell in love with the Brythoniaid Choir daily. All that’s left to say is: be seeing you.






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travel

if I could have a second skin, I’d probably dress up in you

So we made it up to Edinburgh for the last week of the Fringe Festival in August and the conclusion was: I continue to bloody love that place and I continue to be in awe of Daniel Kitson. Besides Kitson’s Polyphony, which won the week for me, we also caught James Acaster, Stewart Lee, Lolly Adefope and Tom Basden’s Party – and lots more. Naturally we booked dinner at the Scran & Scallie (it never fails), but were also recommended the brilliant Ting Thai Caravan, from which, it turned out, we couldn’t stay away. Throw in long afternoons of folk at Sandy Bell’s, all-the-beers at Brauhaus, coffee and truck toasties at Cairngorm Coffee Co. and all-too-frequent night-caps in the Thistle Street Bar – and you have yourself one very sad-it-was-over logsy. Just don’t talk to me about the wind on Arthur’s Seat.

  

  

  

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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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