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 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 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.
The great British public has a reputation of forming orderly lines with no notice, but sometimes the clue is in the queue. On a recent drive to the Cotswolds we stumbled across The Telegraph’s online ‘insiders guide’ to the best places to eat in the area; from typical pub grub to fine dining restaurants. As we were staying near Cheltenham we searched a 30 min radius drive from our hotel so that we could stop for lunch before the usual 3pm check-in time.
We’d heard Cheltenham was a nice place to visit (we guessed it must have something to offer other than the famous steeplechase horse racing as it has the fourth-highest rate of multi-millionaires in the UK living there) but after looking through the restaurant list we weren’t overwhelmed…the closest venue we liked was Jamie’s Italian…so we decided to continue our search. We decided on the quaint village of Cirencester and deli-café-bistro ‘Made by Bob’.
Take psychotic and dysfunctional team members of a hard hitting and physical (make-believe) sport called “Exy”, mix in drugs, alcohol, physical abuse, hitmen, maffia bosses, kidnapping and not forgetting lots of cuts and bruises, torture, sexual tension…actually loads of tension in general, sprinkle with a whole dose of trust issues and more secrets than you can poke a stick at… and say hello to Nora Sakavic’s ‘All for the Game’ trilogy.
We are liking the new range of low-top sneakers from Gucci…a casual essential this spring/summer. Whatever your taste, laced or slip-on, these funky sneakers come in a range of fabrics from classic canvas, leather, denim and even crocodile. We have our eyes on the blue denim with a semi-matte waxed finished.
For our third visit back to this fantastic resort we just had to return to Kabuki – the 1 Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton resort. This visit we dined twice as the food was exquisite and again lived up to it’s ‘best Japanese restaurant in Europe’ status. Mouthwatering, visually spectacular, if you are visiting Tenerife (South) Island then this restaurant has to be on your to-do list.
For years Elldrew’s ‘local’ pub in Kentish Town NW5 was less than 100 metres away, but we never dared enter in fear that we might not make it out alive. You see, The Grafton was a run down pub that attracted the wrong crowd, and as far as we knew, it was kept afloat via behind-the-scenes criminal activity (if it wasn’t then it sure did a great impression that it did).
A traditional cornerstone pub in an upcoming area of Kentish Town on the borders of eclectic Camden (well Elldrew did live there after all), it was only a matter of time before someone threw some love (and a bucket of paint) at the old girl, taking on board the current gastro pub ‘style’ and ‘etiquette’ that we have all become accustomed to, so that The Grafton could re-open and breath new life through her doors.
So our first visit to Chotto Matte was a love/hate relationship. Yes, you will mingle with the hip, the trendy and of course the glamorous at this London Soho restaurant, and you will eat superb food – Chotto Matte combines the best of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine – but at a price (and we don’t just mean the bill).