On a recent trip to Florence we booked our final nights dinner at the 1 Michelin star restaurant, Ora d’Aria. Ora d’Aria (meaning ‘hour of air’) first took its name from when the restaurant opened, at a previous location, opposite a prison. Guests dined whilst the inmates took advantage of their daily exercise hour. New location and new meaning, we are told ’hour of air’ now focuses on their patrons time spent at the restaurant…they want to ensure each guest is exposed to tradition, innovation and elegance created by one of Italy’s leading chefs, Marco Stabile.
What we love about Stabile is that he is from Tuscany, and whilst he has developed his skills in some of Italy’s finest kitchens, he has remained in Tuscany and allowed us, the punters, to experience some of the most amazing Italian cuisine to have passed our lips.
For a London restaurant chain serving modern Thai food, Busaba does it really well. It has been around for over 15 years, with 12 venues, and was conceived by the famous chef Alan Yau.
It’s a perfect spot for lunch or dinner. The salt and pepper calamari is delicious, the Lab (or Larb as we know it) Salad also packed a punch with flavours and chilli – there was some sweating and possibly a runaway tear – but both worked perfectly with the classic satay chicken (actually one of the best peanut sauces around) and smoked chicken vermicelli noodles. We will be back soon!
On a recent Tuscan break we discovered on a menu, Spaghetti Ubriachi, literally translated as “drunken spaghetti” but actually being spaghetti cooked in red wine. We came across it in a wonderful family run trattoria high on the hills of Montecatini Alto, where, in broken English, the waiter promised us it was made by mamma in the kitchen in the same way she has been making it for years.
A few nights later we tried it elsewhere, and a few nights after that somewhere else, but none could compare to that original dish which was rich in red wine, perfectly balanced with salt from the pancetta with the sweetness of the caramelised onions. Itching to replicate the dish we scoured the web for the recipe, finding versions of drunken spaghetti and versions of spaghetti with pancetta and red onions, but none that combined the two. Taking the best of all of these we’ve come up with a dish, which we think, is as close as we’re going to get to that Tuscan original:
For those who religiously follow us on Twitter, you will have been bombarded by photos and post updates during our lunch at Vintage Salt; the newest restaurant to take over the rooftop area of Selfridge’s department store in central London.
Designed with a seaside restaurant ‘all things nautical’ theme in mind, and a menu to complement, Elldrew popped in for a late lunch and was totally blown away by the sights and flavours…so much so we’ve paused to give Vintage Salt it’s own blog post.
There’s nothing like a Gucci holdall to stop Elldrew in their tracks and this beauty most certainly did! Adorned with the house’s iconic Diamante pattern, the large leather holdall is the perfect partner for your next adventure; expertely crafted by the Italian fashion house and already added to the wishlist.
Fully lined twill interior with inner zip compartment and pouch pockets, two top handles, detachable adjustable shoulder strap, luggage tag, metal feet, pale-gold hardward, zip fastening, padlock and keys included [breath] it doesn’t get any sleeker or sexier than this.
PART 3: THE BULL HOTEL, DORSET
Our final visit was all the way down to Dorset where, inspired by the TV series ‘Broadchurch’, we spent a weekend exploring the Jurassic Coast. For this trip we stayed at The Bull Hotel in Bridport – a restored inn and where we substituted spa facilities for walks along the beach and the spectacular Dorset scenery. This road trip tooks up much further afield, but still a comfortable 3.5 hours drive from central London.
PART 2: PENNYHILL PARK HOTEL, SURREY
A couple of months after Cowley we took the opportunity of a bank holiday to visit Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa in Surrey, about an hour outside of London. Home to the English Rugby training grounds and regularly commended in the ‘Good Spa Guide’, we thought we’d add it to our list of places we’d visited.
As our readers should know by now Elldrew are great fans of weekend breaks, especially to the English countryside. Planning a leisurely drive away from the city for a few days is the perfect way to recharge one’s batteries; no crowded airports with long check-ins queues, 4 hours of your life lost on a 45 min flight to go only a few hundred miles away. Why not hit the road, setting the pace and schedule on your terms and take in the ever-changing view from the comfort of your own pilot seat! Despite not being half way through 2015 Elldrew have been lucky enough to take advantage of three mini getaways…so here’s what we have been up to.
PART 1: COWLEY MANOR, GLOUCESTERSHIRE