Tag Archives: London

From the catwalk to Hackney…

Inspired by Burberry’s new ‘social networking site’, Art of the Trench, I met up with my Italian friend Cristina for breakfast and a long-overdue trip to the Burberry Factory Outlet at Hackney Central (ah, the luxury of Bond Street shopping just five minutes away).

Having heard rumours on the net about Burberry disciples hunting out jackets for a mere £80, we had high expectations and fully intended to emerge dressed like the slightly smug, Sartorialist-snapped hipsters on the site.

The outlet is like a shining fashion beacon, almost temple-like, in the middle of a particularly non-descript part of Hackney. On arrival, we were asked to put all of our world belongings (apart from our purses, conveniently) in the lockers at the entrance. Usually I’d be horrified at the thought of being separated from my keys, phone and other handbag essentials, but it actually lent to more efficient browsing and I knew my possessions would be safe under the watchful eye of the burly security guards and stern Italian lady on the door.

Our hearts leapt when greeted by a large, checked, although slightly hideous bag at the front of the store, which was just £149.  We were ready to scoop up some of the more tasteful pieces, however, the so-called bargain was more of a mirage than a taste of things to come. The bags that you’d actually want to have on your arm, from the runway collections, were priced between £300 and £700, although this was a mighty discount from the original £1000+.

Discounts range from a shy 20% up to a massive 70%.  Cristina found a gorgeous silk and net cocktail dress in either brown or red that was reduced from £1230 to £120!

Burberry tend to go for one style of shoe for the catwalk shows, and low and behold, I spotted the black patent leather heels with ruched straps from the Autumn/Winter 08 show and the olive green lace-ups from the Spring/Summer 09 collection, all gracing the tootsies of models like Agy, Daisy, Irina and Sasha.

My tops picks of the trip included a delicate, iridescent silver mac for £150, some studded/warrior leather gloves for £89 and some incredible black lace-up, calf-lenth boots for just £200. Cristina hunted out a gorgeous silk and net cocktail dress in chocolate brown or berry red that was reduced from £1230 to £120!

There are some more affordable items like perfume gift sets from £29, checked wool scarves from £69 and a selection of purses and jewellery, including the square warrior cuff from last summer.  The great thing about the Burberry outlet is that there are timeless, investment pieces that you buy for a snip of the price and can keep forever.  The prices aren’t exactly cheap, but if you’re in the market for one excellent quality bag or trench, then you can upgrade from high end high street to luxury for just a little bit extra.

The outlet doesn’t offer refunds or exchanges, so make sure you’ve tried on your purchase, that there are no visible production faults and most of all, that you really love it.  It can be quite easy to kid yourself into liking the best of the pile in the name of a bargain! Come armed with Christmas money and scour the clearance rails with a fine tooth comb for the real discounts.

Burberry Factory Outlet, 29-53 Chatham Place, Hackney, London, E9 6LP

Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 11am-5pm.

How to get there:  Overground: Hackney Central   Tube: Bethnal Green + 106/254 bus to Hackney Town Hall or 20 minutes walk.

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Jarvis makes an exhibition of himself…again!

Jarvis Cocker took over Shoreditch’s Village Underground for three days of workshops, jamming, cake eating and informal performances.  Taking lead from his ‘happening’  at Galerie Chappe in Paris earlier this year, Jarvis invited everyone to bring their own instruments and take part in yoga, burlesque and Jivamukti yoga sessions, all taught by instructors, with Jarvis and his recruits providing the soundtrack.  Or you could just come to watch and munch on home-made chocolate cake and curly wurlys from Jarvis’ personally overseen Tuck Shop and chillax on big inflatables.

He couldn’t have picked a better venue than Village Underground, with its disused railway carriages and excellent acoustics. It is housed under a viaduct, like a mini version of The Arches in Glasgow, and it felt a lot more welcoming and comfy than the overly-lit, white box setting of an art gallery.

jarvis group

I dropped by during the ‘Bring your own Instrument’ session and Jarvis was perched on a stool playing guitar with members of his band and audience members. They seemed to be mostly improvising, creating dreamy sound scapes, although it sounded very together, like they’d been playing together for years.

Throughout the residency, Charley from the nearby Pure Evil gallery worked on a large graffiti piece dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which provided the backdrop on the stage.  He was still adding the finishing touches during the final concert!

jarvis graffiti

I hadn’t made plans to go to the concert, as I thought it must have been sold out, but there were still tickets left to buy at the venue (£30 seemed like a lot, but then again, the rest of the festivities had been for free).

Support came from American anti-folk nutter Thomas Truax, who had a whole menagerie of pimped up, hand-made instruments, which look like futurist noise machines.  Truax started out as a solo performer in 90s New York alongside the likes of Beck and Lach and worked as an animator on MTV’s Celebrity Death Match before decamping to London.

Thomas plays everything himself and records each instrument live, layering up the different sounds, then singing and playing blues guitar over the top. He played experimental songs from his latest album Songs from the films of David Lynch, including a cover of I Put A Spell On You from Lost Highway.  The folk at the front were pretty into it, but there were some sceptical mutterings from the oldies at the back, who were probably hoping Jarvis would enlist one of his famous mates to open for him.

jarvis mixing desk

Finally, Jarvis appeared and played songs from his two solo albums Jarvis and Further Complications.  He appeared as skinny and bookish as ever, but when Jarvis starts singing, he is utterly seductive with that inimitably sexy voice and and quiet Northern charm.

There was plenty of bum wiggling and thrusting going on and at one point, he led the audience into a quick aerobics session, as keeping fit seemed to have got pushed off the daytime schedule.

His new songs are more rock based and have a cool cosmic sound that goes into prog-rock indulgence in the slightly comical Pilchard, complete with interactive dance routine.  Further Complications has some hilarious lyrics but there’s an underlying melancholy and feeling of disappointment that could be attributed to the break-down of his marriage to Camille Bidault-Waddington earlier this year.

Jarvis’ main preoccupation of the night was making sure that everyone had enjoyed the workshops and most important the Tuck Shop.  He was concerned that the Roast Beef Monster might not be to everyone’s taste and proceeded to hurl packets of Love Hearts into the crowd.

Watch Jarvis singing Leftovers and having smoochy moment with a lucky girl at the front…

For upcoming tour dates and a free download, visit Jarvis’ website.

All photos by Steven Marshall.

LA pizza in the heart of east London

Pizza East has been on my eaterie radar for quite some time now, so when my mum came down to visit last week, I thought I would make plans and actually book somewhere in the neighbourhood, rather than trawling round Soho in the hope of finding somewhere we both liked.  Ok, my neighbourhood is actually Hackney Central, but the Kingland Road stretch just seems like a hop and a skip away when there’s good food to be had.

We tried to book a table for three and each time I rang, they only had availability for ‘early bird suppers’ at 6.30pm.  However, it was suggested that we’d have more luck if we turn up and wait for a table at the time we wanted to eat.  I guess this is quite a democratic system, as it stops the restaurant being jammed up with bookings for weeks ahead and prevents such pretentions as ‘waiting lists’.

pizza east centre bar

 We were told we would have to wait an hour for a table but they would try to get us seated earlier, although it did end up this long, so we had a bottle of Peroni at the bar. The bar had a great atmosphere and was a veritable ‘who’s who’ of Shoreditch fashion and media types, with Brix Smith-Start buzzing around, waiting for her table.  Despite trying to appear patient and happily lost in conversation, everyone looked so restless that they might have grabbed one of the Italian hams hanging from the ceiling and gnawed away on it there and then. 

So, why is everyone falling over each other to dine at Pizza East when there are plenty of pizza joints in the east end?  Well, it’s the latest venture of Soho House group founder Nick Jones, also the owner of Shoreditch House, directly above Pizza East in the Tea Building (on the corner of Shoreditch High Street and Bethnal Green Road. 

pizza east chairs

The pizzas are apparently inspired by the wood-fired sourdough those at LA’s Pizzeria Mozza, with a mix of classic Italian combinations and house speciality pizzas like veal meatballs with sage, lemon, parsley and cream and another with duck sausage, artichoke, parmesan and boschetto al tartufo.

We started with two orders of garlic bread to share, which came on rustic wooden chopping boards. Each potion consisted of two massive hunks of ciabatta oozing delicious garlic butter with fresh parsley, so luckily we didn’t go for one each.

Our waiter was a chatty Italian guy with very cool Ray-Ban glasses, who recommended his personal favourites and came over almost every time he passed to see if we needed anything.

pizza east garlic bread

Next up was the much-anticipated pizza, although the garlic bread and Peroni had mellowed my growling stomach enough not to wolf it down without wild abandon.

I ordered the speck with rocket, my mum went for the portobello mushroom, shallot, parsley and egg, and Steven chose the hottest pizza on the menu so he didn’t have to share (sorry, maybe it’s just a coincidence), which was salami, red onion and red chilli flakes.

The sourdough base was unlike any I’ve ever tried before and had a crisp, bubbly crust and soft but not too flimsy centre. There was a generous covering of smooth tomato sauce made in-house and the most flavoursome mozzarella clustered near the middle. The speck tasted well-matured and the rocket was super fresh and robust – all in all, everything I could have hoped for in a pizza and more.

pizza east pizza

There was a bit of cross-table swappage and I can report that the salami had a much more meaty texture and flavour than the generic, uniformly thin and greasy versions and the portobello mushrooms had a slightly nutty, garlic taste.

Pizza East also claim to source seasonal and local produce, although I’m sure most of the pizza ingredients are imported from Italy, as they taste so authentic.  The guy next to us ordered the most tender and slow-cooked beef cheek, so perhaps the meat and staple ingredients are from home turf.

We were left feeling pretty full after the starter and main meal (rarely would I go for double bread action in one sitting), but it would have been a shame not to try the desserts, so we ordered the salted chocolate caramel tart on the recommendation of our ‘new best friend’ waiter.  It only seems logical that when sharing between three, you go for the richest, most decadent dessert to make up for all that spoon clashing and thimble-sized portions.

The waiter told us we would get a surprise and in fact there were two – our tart was covered in snowflakes of rock salt and we were given a taster of delightful Moscato dessert wine, that was made in the village next to where he was from.

pizza east caramel tart

The salt really complimented the velvety, sweet caramel and dark chocolate and the pastry was exceptional, with a sandy texture that is really hard to achieve.  With the flaked almonds and mascarpone/soured cream, the dessert took on the taste of a really posh dime bar – absolutely delicious!

I expected that due to Pizza East’s location and lineage that it may be somewhat standoffish and have the tense atmosphere of hipsters experiencing carb-guilt (a neurosis I also suffer from at certain strong-willed times of the year).  However, the staff were so welcoming and open and there was a great buzz of everyone getting stuck in Italian-style and chatting freely.  There are also small touches from Shoreditch House such as Cowshed handsoap and lotion in the bathrooms that remind you that it’s not just your regular pizzeria.

I also kind of like the communal dining aspect, as you never know who you could be sat next to, and as I usually end up next to the village nut-job, they’re often keep you entertained.  It did feel like I was sitting on a wooden  toadstool though, so a proper bench or comfy seat wouldn’t go amiss.

pizza east bar

I’m looking forward to Pizza East’s take-out service that’s due to launch in December and I like the idea of having a deli counter where you can buy store cupboard items like oil and sauces, as well as branded products from the restaurant.  I’m also tempted by the charcuterie and cheese boards on offer at the centre bar – great for avoiding the pizza-induced mid-afternoon slump and the tedious queuing.

Not only is Pizza East the most exciting new restaurant in the Shoreditch area, but it has the friendly feel of a neighbourhood restaurant that could quite easily become my ‘local’ for years to come, and that’s not a decision I take lightly!

Pizza East, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ

Pizza East on Urbanspoon

Frieze Week: Zoo Art Fair

Zoo Art Fair has a new home in the East this year and really, it feels like it should have been there all along.  Zoo used to be at the Royal Academy and now even the more conventional buyers will have to hop on the 149 to the three disused buildings just behind Shoreditch High Street.

Zoo is the place to find emerging artists but there are some Hirsts and Gilbert and George pieces to keep the bigtime collectors happy. The atmosphere of is a lot more relaxed and inclusive than the Pavilion of Art & Design, which attracts a more well-heeled, conventional crowd. 

Damien Hirst jaws

This year, Zoo features 50 contemporary arts organisations from all over Europe, including London galleries such as Serpentine Gallery, White Cube, Other Criteria, Camden Arts Centre, Whitechapel Gallery.  There are three art zones comprising four main exhibitions, curated by FormContent, LUX, Studio Voltaire and Rob Tufnell.

Zoo art fair

LUX’s  Film As A Subversive Art is a project inspired by Amos Vogel’s 1974 book of the same name that continues the question of subversion in contemporary art and film.  It was developed by six students from the Curating Programme at Goldsmiths, with Ellen Cantor’s captivating Pinochet Porn showing on Friday.  It narrates the tragi-comic lives of five adults who grew up during Pinochet regime, including the charming trainwreck Paloma and her Six Husbands, and ends with the question: Is tragedy a choice?

Zoo art fair

Confetti covered the floor of Mariel Lopez Gallery (Berlin) booth, which was in fact a piece by Ruben Grillo called 20 Manifestos – famous manifestos shredded, scattered and stood upon.  Also, Ant Macari showed his work behind a giant wall cavity and used his trademark scrolls and symbols to communicate cultural and religious ideas. 

Ant Macari

After viewing the art, you can quaff some champagne at the elegant Champagne Perrier-Jouet Bar and of course, it wouldn’t be an east end trendy knees up with Bistrotheque and their pop-up restaurant.

Also, if you’re new to the treasures of the east, Zoo have printed a map of the best places to drink and break bread with emerging artists and the galleries where they hang out.

Bistrotheque

The only trouble with Zoo is the hefty ticket price at £15, with no student discount.  The poor, impoverished art school students there can barely afford to make any huge purchases, or even a can of coke at the cafe from what I heard, but they could well be the next generation of talent at Zoo.

Zoo Art Fair is on now until Monday 19 October. 3-10 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6PG.

Chocolate Unwrapped in Mayfair

Sampling some of the world’s finest chocolate in Mayfair sounded like a glorious way to spend a Sunday afternoon, so I headed down to the May Fair Hotel for Chocolate Unwrapped, the first show dedicated solely to delicious cocoa goodness.  It was like entering Marie-Antoinette’s boudoir, with an intoxicating scent of chocolate and tables laden with exquisite morsels and pretty, shiny wrappers – I was in heaven!

chocolate festival

Part of the UK’s Chocolate Week, Chocolate Uncovered featured exhibits from 25 of the country’s most respected and innovative chocolatiers and talks from Rococo founder Chantal Coady, the MD of Hotel Chocolat and Visit Mexico.  Samples were unlimited and plentiful and aside from atempting a full-on sugar coma, you could peruse dessert cookery books from Foyles and admire the incredible chocolate sculptures by renowned artists and chocolatiers.

I adored Rococo’s fragrant earl grey and rose scented chocolate bars, Paul Wayne Gregory’s salted caramels, Pacari’s cocoa nibs and Paul A. Young’s gooey ultimate chocolate fudge brownies.

Chocolate dress

Being the geek that I am, I had to make it an educational trip, so I attended the talk given by Visit Mexico and the co-founder of the authenic Mexican restaurant Mestizo, on the history of chocolate and its importance in Mexican cuisine.

I discovered that cocoa was drunk by the ancient civilisations of Central America, including the Aztec and Maya communities from as early as 2000BC.  It was taken back to the court of Spain in 1527AD and eventually reached England in the 1650s and, like gin, was used for medicinal purposes.

But the main part of the talk was the celebratory role that chocolate plays in Mexican culture – chocolate skulls are exchanged like Valentine’s roses on the Day of the Dead and mole (pronounced ‘molay’) is laboriously prepared for weddings, funerals and religious holidays.

mole

Mole is an aromatic sauce that usually accompanies different kinds of meat and is created using a blend of onion, garlic, tomatilla, dried chilli, nuts, seeds, spices and of course, chocolate.  There are many different kinds of mole originating from various regions in Mexico, all with different colours and flavours.

We sampled the brown Mole Poblano, slow-roasted with chicken and it was one of the most complex, flavoursome sauces I’ve ever tasted.  It reminds me a lot of my favourite Iranian dish, Fesen Joon – a textured sauce made from ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses and served with chicken.

Chocolate Unwrapped’s chocolatiers will be hosting a series of talks, tasting sessions and demonstrations around London for Chocolate Week.  There will be also chocolate-themed afternoon teas and set menus at selected restaurants as part of London Restaurant Festival.

Chocolate Week runs from 12-18 October and events will be held at venues across London.  Check out  www.chocolate-week.co.uk for more details.

Afternoon tea at Yauatcha

Earlier this week, the lovely Sheena Appadoo from Aramis invited me for afternoon tea at Yauatcha.  Sheena keeps me in delightful scents and replaced my summer daily staple of DKNY Be Delicious Fresh Blossom with the richer, Autumnal DKNY Women limited edition scent in gold and bright purple – I’m addicted already!

Back to Yauatcha, I’d already tried the macaroons from their patisserie and my favourite is the champagne flavour embellished with goldleaf, but I was excited to sample ‘the full works’ in the tea room. 

Yauatcha

The michelin starred dim sum restaurant and tea house, created by Alan Yau (he who launched Wagamama and Hakkasan) looks more like a boutique from the outside and is an oasis of calm with low seating, blossom-embroidered banquettes and blue-tinted facades half concealing the kitchen.

There are three types of afternoon tea available and we ordered the Oriental Afternoon Tea for one (£24.50) to share, which comes with a selection of dim sum instead of sandwiches.  I chose a pot of Darjeeling First Flush from a huge range of teas including blue, green, black and white tea.

 The dim sum selection included a baked venison puff, char sui bun and scallop siu mai – the former two were tasty but unusually sweet. I’m always more excited about the cakes and they didn’t disappoint!  There was a layer of sweet sandwiches – a bright pink rasberry and lychee jelly filling packed between layers of fine sponge and one with vanilla sponge and bitter chocolate ganache.

Yauatcha

The top layer resembled a mini version of the patisserie counter and included a rich chocolate macaroon, a lemon and cola tartlet, chocolate chip marshmallow, chocolate financier, a piece of shortbread and a shot of apple and kiwi mousse.

Just as I had worked my way through the sugary layers, then came two mountainous scones (one Matcha green tea flavoured and one plain) with a tray full of oriental jams and mascarpone cream – I was defeated!  From other reviews, I’ve discovered that had we managed to wolf these down too, there were still flavoured marshmallows, mini chocolate slabs and truffles to come!

The service was unobtrusive and we were served at a steady pace, although this should be the case, as we went on a quiet weekday afternoon.

Yauatcha

The only criticism is that they won’t box up the left items to take away, due to ‘health and safety’.   At many afternoon tea establishments like Pret-a-Portea at The Berkeley, they package up what you can’t eat for you to munch on at home. It’s no biggie though, just take a paper napkin with you and drop a scone or two into your handbag, in case you get peckish on the bus.

You can of course go to Yauatcha for a simple pot of tea and a cake from the patisserie, but the Oriental Afternoon Tea is perfect for sampling a little bit of everything in exquisite surroundings and believe me, it’s more than worth it!

Yauatcha, 15-17 Broadwick Street, Soho, London W1F 0DL

Yauatcha on Urbanspoon

Romeo Pires Spring/Summer 10 @ LFW

Romeo Pires’ Spring/Summer 10 show kicked off with cosmos and mojitos, which is always better than queuing in the rain.  This is design duo Nicholas Humphrey and Sergio Pires’ second collection at LFW and they picked up where they left off last season with their signature art-inspired graphic prints.

Romeo Pires

The collection featured diaphanous silk collared shirt dresses and jumpsuits, beginning with monochrome and graduating into colour-bursting prints. featuring checker flags, apples

The monochrome pieces showed a more feminine, dreamy take on a tuxedo and skeleton prints were also featured. 

Romeo Pires

 The second part of the collection saw graphic colour prints emblazoned with checkerboards, apples, Roy Lichtenstein-inspired tableaux, mystical swirls and geometric blocks.

Romeo Pires 

 The majority of the collection was created using silk and includes sheer blouses, tailored shorts and beautifully draped jumpsuits.  A perfectly wearable and cohesive Spring/Summer collection if ever there was!