Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Canto Corvino, London

A good few years ago when I was working at a hedge fund in London, I used to go to work everyday at our offices on Duke of York Square which is a really lovely pedestrianised area just behind the Saatchi gallery. It was pretty idyllic in terms of London locations - really amazing cafés, really great shops and Partridges had a huge American section where you could get things like Stubbs which is the best bbq sauce in the world. So, all in all, a lovely place to work - AND it was opposite Manicomio's - a pretty little slice of Italian flawlessness with lots of outdoor seating on the terrace and a brilliant deli indoors if you wanted to grab something to take home for supper. The first time I went to Manicomio's was the first time I'd tried wild boar ragu with pappardelle. I will never forget how delicious that bowl of pasta was in all it's simple perfection. There are probably 20 really stand-out meals I've had in my life and that is one of them. 

Over the years I used to go to Manicomio a fair old bit - work drinks, work lunches, celebrating happy news, commiserating sad news, lamenting tedious first-world-problems and just simple things like sitting out on the terrace until the last possible second with my flatmate because our 4th floor flat in Pimlico used to get so unbelievably warm in the dog days of a sweltering London summer.

So I've always had a huge soft spot for Mani's and still go there now and again. In fact if you're reading this and you want to take me out for dinner, take me to Manicomio. OR, take me to Canto Corvino. It's by the same group that own Manicomio in Chelsea (and in the City). I went on Friday night with friends and it is amazing. Properly amazing.



First of all, it looks amazing. It's down Artillery Lane which is also home to places like Ottolenghi and the Breakfast Cafe and it just has this lovely buzzy feel to it. When you walk into Canto Corvino the bar is right in front and the restaurant to the left. The big windows all open onto the street and the window boxes are filled with lush green rosemary.



The Canto bar is quite rightly getting a bit of a reputation for serving up a brilliant mix of original creations as well as innovative takes on the classics. Headed by Junior Donadi, the bar serves an extensive wine list (over 200) that focuses on small producers and indigenous grape varieties from all over Italy. I love the fact there is a story behind the name like there is at Manicomio ('mad house' in Italian because the site was the old asylum for solders). Canto Corvino means 'singing raven' - the ripe grapes have long been an attraction for these gourmet birds who will always be found at the sites of Canto Corvino's wine producers.



We started the night with these spantom gin & tonics - hendricks, tonic, cucumber, cinnamon stick. Brilliant and super refreshing.



The design of Canto Corvino is just my kind of super cool, low-key luxe - everything is finished to an exceptionally high standard and really well considered. It's things like lighting that can really make or break a dining experience and they really got it spot on. The design is by the award-winning B3 Designers - see more of their commercial work here - it's really outstanding.





We didn't eat in the private dining room but we had a quick tour and isn't it the most perfect room for dinner with a large group of friends or family? Love the brick, the map, the candles, the metal wine racks, and just the overall vibe was so spot on.



So, the food. The menu is a masterclass in modern Italian cooking. It's the classic Italian order of play - antipasti - primi - secondi - dolci - but done in a way that is a) fresh b) really interesting and c) super delicious. We loved the lamb ribs which were served with smoked aubergine and sesame. Every single dish we tried packed a punch - the black bream cerviche was sensational.

I had the coastal cod, cannellini, samphire and mussel bagnacauda which the kitchen did as a dairy-free option because I'm allergic to milk. No fuss, no eye rolling, the staff were cool about everything and the perfect mix of attentive but totally in the background.






To take a look at the a la carte menu click here but I'm thinking next time I go it's going to have to be Sunday brunch. I can't think of a more perfect way to spend a Sunday.

Amazing food, amazing wine, amazing service and amazing atmosphere. For me - this is restaurant perfection.

To visit Canto Corvino at 21 Artillery Lane,Spitalfields, London E1 7HA call 0207 655 0390 or visit their reservations page on the website.

All Images: Canto Corvino

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Hancock Park by Studio William Hefner

I don't remember when I first saw it, but I have loved this image of this kitchen / dining area for the longest time. Architecturally and aesthetically it's stunning, but I also really appreciate the composition of this image - to me it's perfectly framed and totally captures the look and feel of the space.

Black frame windows always do it for me because of the way they make the outdoors look like framed pictures and from a styling point of view, opening a door is a great way to convey a level of movement or activity in a super low key way.

I love the seating beside the floor to (almost) ceiling windows - simple but expertly crafted and perfect for this super chic kitchen diner. I think upholstered bench seating designed in this way is perfect for kitchen spaces - it feels more cosy than separate chairs - same reason I love restaurants with booths.



I also love the different textures in the space - lots of natural materials thanks to the dark hardwood flooring and the corner of island unit, but also the marble counter top. While I would personally never have marble in a kitchen - I love this look and it works so well in this space. The overall look and feel of the space is clean, elegant and welcoming. Exactly my cup of tea.

Anyway - back in the room - bottom line is I've seen it on Pinterest so many times and tried to find the source on several occasions but never managed to track it down. So I stopped looking a while ago and yesterday it dropped straight into my lap.

The source is Studio William Hefner and if you're into design you're going to want to visit this website pronto.

For me this is classic American interior design at it's absolute finest. This project is called Hancock Park and is the home of William Hefner and Kazuko Hoshino. Together they design some of the most most spectacularly brilliant homes in and around Los Angeles (he's the principal at Studio William Hefner and she heads the firm's interior design department).



For this 3,800-square-foot house that would become their home, the couple deliberately decided to disregard the resale value and instead embrace everything they loved.

"We didn't want the house to feel too large. The whole idea was not to fill up the lot with house, but to create a living space that takes advantage of the outdoors." To that end, Hefner oriented the rear of the house to the outdoors; French doors open onto a landscaped garden and pool area, with a small poolhouse serving as guest quarters.



I love the low-key relaxed vibe of this sitting room, it's absolutely everything I love about design.

Love maps, love navy, love stripes and love that little reading light. A perfect nook for an afternoon with a pot of tea and a really good book.

To see more of this amazing project, go to Studio William Hefner.

Image credit: Studio William Hefner 


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Artisan Toast Recipes

If you follow me on instagram you may have seen that one of my favourite things to eat is pretty anything on toast - especially anything on a bagel or toasted sourdough. So I was pretty excited to hear that Dualit have brought out a new toaster designed for artisan breads which has a much longer slot than a normal toaster and is also 36mm wide for things like English muffins. Of course it's also got the unique Dualit peek and pop feature too. So it's ticking all my boxes so far, and then I found out it's also designed especially for toasting bagels because it toasts one side while warming the other. Perfect for my unrelenting obsession with those chewy little bread beauties.

Anyway I was even more excited when Dualit sent over one of their lovely new toasters so I could try out some recipes... take a look below to see the results. I made these for my family which went down a treat but see what you think and if you have a go at any of them let me know how you got on in the comments at the bottom.

WILD MUSHROOM CROSTINI


INGREDIENTS

5 slices of rustic garlic baguette (love this one from Waitrose)
1 glug of rape seed oil / olive oil
1/2 white onion
1 garlic clove
3 large handfuls of wild mushrooms (I love shiitake, chestnut and oyster), cleaned and sliced
4 tbsp parmesan
1 handful of chopped parsley, finely chopped
Maldon seat salt and fresh black pepper
Micro basil to garnish (or use pea shoots as an alternative)

METHOD

1. Slice the bread and start toasting the slices. 
2. Finely chop the onion and garlic and gently fry in a large non-stick frying pan with a glug of oil.
3. After 5 minutes or so add the mushrooms and turn up the heat slightly.
4. Give the mushrooms a good stir and let them catch slightly so that the edges brown.
5. Add the parmesan and take the pan off the heat.
6. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper. 
7. To serve, cut the slices in half and spoon on the mushroom mixture. You can drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil if you want to and sprinkle some micro basil on top of each crostini. 

(If you happen to have some white wine open, it's nice to add a glug once the mushrooms have been added to the pan but it's not essential.)

BEETROOT & GOAT'S CHEESE TOASTS


INGREDIENTS

5 slices of wheat 'n' rye sourdough
200g cooked beets
1 small tub of spreadable goat's cheese
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 garlic clove
Maldon seat salt and fresh black pepper
Micro basil to garnish (or use pea shoots as an alternative)

METHOD

1. Toast the cumin seeds in a small pan over a moderate heat until brown and fragrant. Then crush them in a pestle and mortar along with the garlic clove. 
2. In a small food mixer, add the beets and cumin and garlic and blend quickly - you want to keep a rough-ish texture so one blitz should do it.
3. Season the beet mixture with salt and pepper.
4. Toast the bread slices and then spread with goat's cheese, top with a little of the beet mix and garnish with micro basil or fresh coriander.  

GRAVADLAX BAGELS 


INGREDIENTS

2 white bagels
4 slices gravadlax (either use this brilliant recipe or choose this ready made option)
1 small tub of full fat Philadelphia cream cheese
1/4 red onion, finely sliced
Small handful of dill finely chopped
Maldon seat salt and fresh black pepper
Micro basil to garnish (or use pea shoots as an alternative)

METHOD

1. Toast the bagels  - I used the fantastic bagel setting on the artisan toaster which toasts the inside of the bagel and warms the outside. Total genius. 
2. Spread with Philadelphia and layer the gravadlax on top.
3. Add the sliced red onion, season with salt and pepper and garnish with dill and micro basil.

AVOCADO AND RADISH ON ROSEMARY SOURDOUGH


INGREDIENTS

4 slices of rosemary bread (love this potato and rosemary option)
1 avocado
1 garlic clove
1 lime
4 large radishes, finely sliced
Large handful of coriander, finely chopped
Maldon seat salt and fresh black pepper

METHOD

1. In a bowl mash the avocado with the juice of the lime, salt, pepper and a small sprinkle of coriander. 
2. Toast the sliced bread and while it's toasting peel the garlic and cut in half.
3. Rub the warm slices of the bread with the garlic.
4.  Top each slice with avocado and add the radish slices.
5. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top if you like.

ASIAN CRAB CROSTINI


INGREDIENTS

5 slices of sourdough bread, sliced
200g white crab meat
2 tbsp of sesame seeds, toasted in a pan
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 lime
1/4 red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
Large handful of coriander
Maldon seat salt and fresh black pepper

METHOD

1. In a bowl mix the crab meat with all the ingredients listed above. Season to taste.
2. Toast the sliced bread and top with the crab mixture. 
3. Garnish with fresh coriander. 

I was so impressed with this Dualit toaster - it really toasts every slice so evenly and I loved the warming rack which is so handy when you're doing multiple slices as I was for these recipes. But overall the best feature is the simplest - the fact you can fit a slice of sourdough in lengthways totally made my day as my pet peeve is having to constantly watch the old toaster and then turn around the slices when they started to brown.  

To see more from Dualit click here and if you try any of these recipes out, let me know how you get on in the comments below. 

Monday, 28 March 2016

Salt House Mercantile, Bainbridge Island

This Easter weekend I've been spending time with my family at home in Leicestershire which has been so peaceful and I feel so well rested. As the Easter weekend comes to an end, I'm also super excited because I just booked a ticket for later this Spring to my other home from home - Seattle. I can't wait to go back and see our family and friends who live in Seattle and on Bainbridge Island - it's such a special place. Personally I love the US - it's such a positive place and I love the 'I can, I will' attitude.




When we were talking last night about the stores we love on Bainbridge, I remembered I still had a memory card full of photos of my last trip. In March. Last year.

I must admit, since working at Humphrey Munson I have been so hit and miss with this blog. I love this west egg blog, and I love writing, but it's hard to fit it all in and I never want to feel like I have to write it because I think that takes all the fun out of it. So today, I find myself with a spare hour before we brave the storm to walk the dogs and I've got some tea, and I'm going to take you on a mini tour of one of my favourite stores on Bainbridge Island - the Salt House Mercantile.



Located at 119 Winslow Way East on Bainbridge Island, when you walk in the door at the Salt House Mercantile it has the perfect summer vibe - clad in extra wide painted shiplap panels that suit the space perfectly, the interior design is simple, rustic and welcoming.



The window has an ever changing display of beautiful furniture and home accessories - this is the place to come to source gifts for any occasion.



I love this vintage sign which the owner sourced on a road trip - sadly it's not for sale.



I bought 6 of these soaps home to England on my last visit and when I opened up the bag the aroma was just incredible.

Fabric from Komedal Cloth (previously Bainbridge Blues) a natural fibre textile line designed on Bainbridge Island and woven in Italy.

As well as homewares and accessories, the Salt House Mercantile also stocks an amazing range of weird and wonderful ingredients and condiments - I so wish I could have brought more home with me. 










Curating homewares and accessories for a store is actually a lot harder than I think people realise, it takes such a lot of vision and perseverance to get out there and source really beautiful and fantastic products and then combine them in a way that reflects the store's brand.

Stores like the Salt House Mercantile have such a distinctive knack of combining really lovely products - I am such a sucker for packaging, I love typography and design and I would definitely buy a hand soap just because I love the label. I'm okay if that means I'm shallow.

As I'm sure everyone does, I love to have beautiful things in my home and I can't wait to go back to Bainbridge Island and stock up. I just spotted on instagram they are now stocking my favourite Bellocq tea so I will definitely be bringing some of that home.

Visit the Salt House Mercantile at 119 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island, Washington, follow then on instagram here or visit their facebook page for opening times, additional info. 

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Hotel Paradis, Paris

It's been over 6 weeks since I went to Paris for Maison et Objet and I honestly cannot believe where the time has gone, it really doesn't feel 5 minutes ago but there you go. I wrote about the amazing lighting companies I saw at Maison on the Humphrey Munson blog, take a look here if you want to see my favourites. There were so many inspiring interiors companies there, I can't wait to share them all here although admittedly at this rate it's going to take me all year to get round to it.

So anyway, first what I want to tell you about is a little gem I found tucked away in a typical Parisian street located half way between the Gare du Nord railway station and the prestigious Opéra Garnier in Paris. 


I discovered Hôtel Paradis thanks to instagram, I can't remember how I came across it - I guess down the usual rabbit hole of looking at hashtags and locations but as soon as I saw their photos and the location I knew it would be perfect. Maison et Objet is held at the Parc des Expositions which is north of Paris and the Eurostar goes into Gare du Nord so the location was spot on.


I got the first Eurostar from St. Pancras to Paris on the Sunday morning and arrived a few hours later. Hôtel Paradis kindly arranged an early check in so I could drop my bags off before heading out to lunch.


The interior design of the hotel is so cool, I loved all the different wallpapers they used and the mix of mid-century modern furniture with contemporary pieces.


This is the lovely reading area on the ground floor just beside the reception. I didn't really have much time to linger but there were some great design books and magazines, and you can order afternoon tea to while away an hour or so.


I think all the rooms have these distinctive headboards - once I'd got past the fact they reminded me of savoiardi sponge fingers - I thought they were actually quite cool. Each room is individually designed, and while compact, for me it was perfect as I wasn't spending much time in the hotel and I was on my own.


Do you see what I mean though about the sponge fingers?! ;)


LOVED the toiletries from Malin + Goetz - a New York based apothecary and lab. I loved the Peppermint shampoo but I'm planning to order the Neroli shampoo - I'm a bit late to the Nerouli party obviously - but the smell is out of this world.


The other thing I loved about Hôtel Paradis was the fabulous breakfast - the perfect way to start the day and the coffee is great.


All in all it's a pretty perfect spot for a day or two in Paris, and I will definitely be back. Oh, and one last tip - if you do stay at Hôtel Paradis, you must must must go for dinner at Le Richer - it's just around the corner and it is just amazing.

Hôtel Paradis, 41, rue des Petites-Écuries - 75010 Paris - France, Tel: +33 1 45 23 08 22

Images used with kind permission of Hôtel Paradis.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

A day out in London

Happy New Year all! Hope you've had a lovely holiday season. We've been so lucky to have an amazing ten day break spent catching up with family and friends. One of my favourite days was spent in London with our wonderful friends from Scotland and we were so lucky to get incredible blue skies. I booked tickets for the London Eye to celebrate my godson William's 3rd birthday and both he and his brother were so excited.


We met up at St. George's Wharf to catch the Thames Clipper down to Bankside which went down a treat with the boys who were so excited to see London from the river.  There is so much to see as you walk along Bankside and we arrived in perfect time for a super lunch at the riverside Strada. I haven't been to a Strada for years and was so impressed - friendly, super speedy staff and delicious food. 


Seeing London from the Eye is such an amazing experience and we went up in our pod just in time to watch the sun set over the Thames and beyond.


It reminded me of an amazing video I saw a few years ago of London in 1927 - literally one of the best things I've ever seen in my life. I know I'm prone to exaggeration, but seriously - it is Ah.mazing! 

In 1927, Claude Friese-Greene shot one of the first-ever colour films all around London using a technique called Biocolour that was created by his father. 


What is absolutely extraordinary about this film is how wonderfully familiar London feels. When I worked near St. Pauls in my 20's I used to walk home along the Thames and I have such fond memories of those walks. Also, if you loved the song played in the first half of the film like I did, it's called Parasol by Jonquil. I have it as my alarm and it's a lovely way to wake up each morning.

Wishing you all a very happy new year filled with peace, love and laughter.