I usually dread the start of the year. January can be a quiet time for freelancers, as the 9-5’ers struggle back to work through the cold mornings, leaving me to the cycle of self promotion, meetings and self loathing (laughter is permitted at this point). However 2018 has been off to a promising start, with various commisions coming in for portraits. I love being asked to photograph people, and as I predominantly shoot food and drinks it’s always great to have a subject I can talk to!
As I am unable to share any of this exciting new work yet, I have been looking back at a some of my favourite portraits I’ve shot over the last few years, ranging from personal work on my ‘Brother’ series, to the wonderful actor Daniel Kaluuya and a day in the life at London Shell Co.
Hidden away in the mountains above Les Gorges du Verdon is a beautiful Provençal paradise, La Bastide de Moustiers. Founded by the one and only Alain Ducasse , La Bastide is set in four acres of land, with small stone cottages set around the main house, where you will find the stunning restaurant and terrace over looking the landscape. The S.O and I had the pleasure of visiting over the summer, and as autumn descends upon London, I cannot help but think back to the warmth of Moustiers in August.
Everything that is produced at La Bastide is seasonal, with an ever changing menu. Walking out into the gardens, you can see all the herbs and vegetables being grown, tended to and picked. There is not a single sound apart from the buzzing of bright violet carpenter bees, weighing down every flower they can land on.
La Bastide is a short drive from the town, famous for its hand painted china. We spent a hot afternoon wandering the steep streets, the S.O trying to distract me from buying every piece of china with Lavender ice cream and the promise of cold Rose. If you should find yourself in Moustiers, look out for the star which has hung above the town by a knight after the Crusades (legend has it).
For me, the absolute highlight of our stay was the breakfast each morning; walking out into the dappled sunlight took my breath away. The sweet, fresh juices and home made honey on warm pastry made me wish the moment would never end, and I could stay in this haven, eating breakfast with my love forever.
When I think of summer, my mind immediately wanders to being at my mothers home in France. The drive up into the mountains, the warm sun and of course the food. There is nothing I enjoy more than a morning spent at the market.
Each weekend, Valbonne opens itself up into a food paradise, selling the most beautiful fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses and meats. Charlie and I spent a wonderful morning perusing the market and sneaking around the quieter backstreets to take a break from the hustle and bustle.
Admittedly Valbonne can be a little bit of a tourist trap, however I recommend getting to the market early, watch the vendors setting up their stalls, buy everything your stomach desires and as the crowds descend, make a quick exit into the hills.
My favourite escape from the busy markets has to be the Foundation Maeght, a stunning art gallery set in the hills of St Paul de Vence. I have visited the Maeght since I was a child and each year that I return feels just like the first. Founded in the 1960s’ the Maeght is famous for nurturing contemporary artists; Giacometti, Miro and Chagall all have permanent works integrated into the gardens.
Visiting the South of France every year feels like coming home. It is the place I have been with my friends and family as a child, fallen in love as an adult and now having my mother living here, it really is home.
I have to start off this post with an apology for the radio silence, however I do have a good excuse, the S.O. and I have spent the last month buying our first home! So it seems apt that today’s post is about our newest local restaurant, Neighbour. Located right at the top of Kentish Town high street, Neighbour serves up seasonal fair from brunch until dinner with a cocktail bar tucked away down the stairs.
Naturally we started the evening off with drinks from the ample Spritz menu and they did not disappoint; chalice sized Aperol and Campari Spritz’s, with the perfect balance of bitter and sweet.
Neighbour offers a vast selection of small plates as well as mains, and after much deliberation, the four of us decided to order a plentiful selection of the small plates to share. I would highly recommend this approach to dining if the option is there, I always want to try as much as I can without feeling like I’m sharing all of my food! The standout dishes by far were the fried chicken with kale and siracha ketchup, the salt cod and fritto misto with salsa verde.
I have to confess we rather over ordered on our mains, so split two desserts, Pimms jelly with strawberry mousse and the chocolate salted caramel torte. The desserts certainly looked beautiful, however it was the mains that stole the show (or perhaps we were too full!).
For a new opening, I think Neighbour is onto a good thing; the space is stunning, with a warm atmosphere, good food and friendly service. I’m happy to count them as my new neighbourhood go-to.
For every rule there is an exception and in terms of City heat, I like to think of myself as that exception. I love the heat of the summer and how the pace of London life seems to slow right down. What then could be better than a luxurious lunch in the sunshine? In order to achieve the maximum amount of rays, I chose the Roof Deck at Selfridges. I also secretly wanted to impress my favourite American friend, Rosie Spinks to see if the promise of Californian style dining in Central London could live up to her discerning tastes.
We started with the latest trend in drinks, Frosé aka frozen Rosé. I can confirm this is not just a trend, it is also one of the most delicious and thirst quenching experiences I have had; the sweetness was perfectly balanced with fresh berries and lemon mixed with a lovely medium dry wine.
The tuna ceviche with plantain crisps was light and fresh, however the Cobb salad absolutely stole the show. Creamy blue cheese dressing, crunchy salad and ripe avocado paired with perfectly salty bacon. Rosie and I ate it so quickly I have no photographic evidence to show for it!
If you are eating any meal in the sun, it has to be finished off with something very, very cold. Thankfully the deck offers an unusual and exciting dessert, avocado and pistachio ice cream sandwich. Held together with sweet meringue, the ice cream had a wonderful flavour, with a hint of avocado, leaning on the right side of savoury.
I adored the Roof Deck; the food is fresh and beautiful, the drinks cool and refreshing. The bill was the only thing that stung a little, the Roof Deck is not cheap, however for a special occasion or just a drink after work with a spectacular view of the City it’s one not to be missed this summer.
All I knew of Tooting Bec was that it was the place a couple of plastic bags went to “Waft about, mate, waft ableedingbout“. It turns out there is much more to Tooting Bec, including The Big London Bake. As a staunch North Londoner, traveling for an hour over the river is something I would normally avoid at all costs, but this is an event not to be missed.
We arrived at The Castle pub and after navigating our way to the back of the garden, found the Big London Bake tent. Filled with familiar work stations, mixers and ovens, I felt nervous and excited in equal measure. There are ten stations and everyone competes in teams of two. To describe my baking skills as terrible would be an understatement, however my better half is excellent, so naturally I enlisted him as my team mate.
On our bench we found a basic recipe card and ingredients laid out for us. Our judge informed us we would have 80mins to bake and decorate our cakes before the winner would be decided. I felt that we started off strong, I mainly stood and drank whilst Charlie made the cake. He gently suggested I head over to the decorating station and choose items to beautify our cake. Once our cake was in the oven, we kicked back, had some drinks, checked out the competition and obviously argued about how we would decorate our masterpiece.
Praying that there would be no soggy bottoms, we took our cake out of the oven, argued some more whilst it cooled, heard the judge yell “9 minutes remaining” and proceeded to haphazardly adorn it with icing, smarties and crushed biscuits (I cannot be held responsible for the decisions made under extreme pressure). All contestants approached the bench with their cakes to be judged. As they were sliced and tasted, I made peace with the fact we had definitely lost until by some kind of miracle the judge announced that we were the winners, which goes to show that dreams really do come true.
I cannot recommend The Big London Bake enough, it was pure simple fun. Take a bunch of friends, or compete against strangers, just make sure you go! Have some drinks, bake a cake, possibly even win and then take your creation home. There’s far more to Tooting than merely wafting about.
Lunches (for me) fall into two categories, long and luxurious or quick and easy. They each have their merits, however both must be delicious. Walter and Monty falls firmly into the latter. A beautiful space in the city, right next to the Gerkin, Walter and Monty serves up a selection of perfectly marinated and cooked meats, either in a box or wrap. The meat is butchered and prepared each morning by Chef James, or as I prefer to call him ‘Meat BAE’, but fear not vegetarians! There are hearty salads galore, so no one is left out.
When the doors open for lunch service, there is genuinely a queue out into the street. Most are regulars, who have a great chat with Alex (an owner, who can be found behind the till most days) as they choose from the variety of meats and salad. A good friend of mine who works in the City takes in her own Tupperware box to be filled, and is proud to be the only one (although I may have just ruined her secret).
Having worked in the City for many years, Alex has tapped into exactly what the market wants; quality food that is competitively priced that can be eaten on site or taken away (in beautifully designed packaging) to your desk. Everything moves quickly, the service is impeccable and each person who visits leaves happily full, or excitedly salivating.