Wednesday, March 30, 2011


If you're not a fan of Masterpiece Theatre, Brit TV may not be your thing. I'm a huge fan -- always have been -- and enjoy every murder mystery ITV serves up. Unfortunately there are far too few truly good bits, as UK programming is overwhelmed by those US imports I never watched when I lived there (CSI, Two and a Half Men, Jersey Shore, NCIS, anything Kardashian...)

Luckily, there are some exceptions. Silk is a legal drama written by Peter Moffat, the UK's answer to David Kelley. As with just about everything on the BBC, the show is well written & produced, and the acting is fantastic. So BBC, answer me this -- who made the bloody ridiculous decision to limit this fabulousness to 6 episodes? 

That's a crime worth prosecuting.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sibella's Secrets

I first 'met' Sibella Court on Man Shops Globe, when Keith Johnson visited her fabulous home/shop, The Society Inc., during a scouting trip to Sydney. Her distinctive viewpoint is amazing -- I love her mix. But prior to returning home to Sydney in 2006, Sibella lived & worked for a decade in NYC, which she describes as 'the most exciting, contained, energy-filled city in the world'. And in her new book, The Stylist's Guide to NYC, she shares that excitement, revealing her favorite shops, boutiques, galleries and markets {along with recommendations for a savory bite mid-hunt}. The book, which 'celebrates the beautiful, original and unusual' and is nearing release in the UK, seems destined to become a classic.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday Lunch @ Spuntino

Spuntino (Italian for little snack) opened last week on Rupert Street betwixt the sex shops of Soho. Somewhat American in feel, this tiny spot with seating for about 30 is Russell Norman & Richard Beatty's third venture (after Polpo & Polpetto). While evoking lower Manhattan with its discreet entrance and 'no phone, no reservations' policy, the menu has a distinctive Southern (albeit double-wide) vibe.

Outside, the signage is nothing but a small scribble inspired by the scrawl of Russell's young daughter. Inside is demo-chic, with marred subway tile walls, old deco borders, and a rusty tin ceiling. A U-shaped stainless bar fills nearly all of the front room, above which hangs vintage enamel fixtures with old-style filament bulbs. American Country/Blues blares from the sound system.

I visited yesterday for a late lunch, grabbing a rare open spot at the bar. The menu, packed with small plates loaded with flavor & fun, is printed on kraft paper place mats. First up was a Bloody Mary, served in a small juice glass -- bold & well-spiced. Then the Brick Lane salt beef slider, layered on a soft bun with dill pickle and hot Colman's mustard, and a side of the most delicate shoestring fries I've ever had. All food is served on white & blue tin enamelware -- a bit quaint but interesting nonetheless. The staff was relaxed but attentive.  The food was perfect and small, delicious and filling.

Though tempted to move on to the mac & cheese and Wild Turkey bourbon brownie, they'll have to wait until next time. But with these reviews, I may need to wait a bit for the next bar stool.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Oxford v. Cambridge {race #157}

This shouldn't be about a cocktail and it isn't, not entirely. But after entering the Thames towpath from Hammersmith tube, the first thing we came across was a group of Cambridge University Boat Club supporters selling silver tray-fulls of the most fabulous looking drink I'd ever seen hawked riverside in a plastic tumbler. Pimm's Cup is a magical potion crafted of the eponymous liquor + lemonade with mint, cucumber, oranges, lemons & strawberries floating within. For Spring in a glass, 6 quid seemed a small price to pay.

Armed with our amazing libations, we headed on to the main event. The Boat Race is a magnificent promenading party extending the length of the Thames from Putney to Chiswick, ostensibly gathered to watch crew. The idea for the match between Oxford & Cambridge originated with two friends, Charles Merivale (at Cambridge) and his Harrow schoolmate Charles Wordsworth - poet William's nephew - (at Oxford). Back in 1829, Cambridge sent a challenge to Oxford and the tradition was born. The first race took place at Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, and the next year at Westminster. By 1845, however, Westminster had become too crowded. The Race moved six miles upstream to the village of Putney where it remains to this day, with the loser of the previous year’s race challenging the victor to a re-match.

Yesterday, Oxford won the toss and elected Surrey 'station' (South side of the river). At 5:00, under cloudy skies and cool breezes, the race began. Within minutes, Oxford took a commanding lead. Although the most one can see at any single outpost is about a minute of the race, huge screens @ Hammersmith & Putney provided views of the remainder. Within 18 minutes it was all over -- the race, that is. After the winning cox got tossed in the Thames, I'm told parties continued throughout the region well into the evening.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

la dolce vita

To avoid Royal Wedding madness & take full advantage of a fortuitous succession of London bank holidays, I'm escaping to Italy for 2 weeks at the end of April. If you have the time & inclination, please share your best places in Venice, Rome &/or the isle of Capri. Accommodations are settled (Casa Howard, AD Place & Punta Tragara), but I'd love to hear about all of the shops, museums, restaurants, walks, gondoliers, gelato, glass blowers and sandal makers that made your trip fabulous. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dame Elizabeth

'So much to do, so little done, such things to be.'
1932 - 2011 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spicher's Mermaids

The March issue of Country Living features the Pennsylvania home of Kolene Spicher. I first discovered Kolene many years ago on Nantucket, where her murals grace the interiors of a few of the finest private shingled homes on the island, and her original artwork is showcased at Nantucket Country Antiques. Her whimsical ships, lighthouses & sailors are the perfect complement to any design inspired by a classic New England aesthetic. I love her pieces so much, I currently carry her prints (including the fabulous mermaid pictured in the bath, above) @ estate (Slate Interiors Charlotte).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Posh Organic

A certain mythology has grown up around Daylesford Organic that also holds true for its Pimlico venue, the first outpost of the famous Oxfordshire Farm Shop. Aristocratic doyennes spend thousands on the shop's organic food downstairs and the upstairs cafe is regularly full up with trendy Mayfair types. The fresh produce is amazing, the soups comforting, and the baked goods simply outstanding. There is no place better to stock the larder for nursing a cold {organic ginger, lemons just off the tree, Salisbury honey, and Daylesford's small batch Scotch Broth are my personal favorites.}

Monday, March 7, 2011

3 Views from Les Deux Magots

Petit dejeuner in St. Germain des Pres, Paris Fashion Week 2011. Cafe au lait + warm goat cheese on a slice of Poilane.  3 days of without-a-cloud-in-the-sky sun and some of the best people watching in Europe. Tents going up down the Champs Elysees & along the perimeter of the Tuileries Garden, leaving little doubt which Marie-Claire hearts which Karl on the sidewalks in front of the Grand Palais.

Although I've found Paris at its most enlightening, fabulous best in {what are to me} the wee morning hours {half-eight-ish}, some bits seem to require a crowd for fullest enjoyment {including the ever-present Laduree macaron line}.

C'est bon.