Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Weekend In Provence

19th June 2013

I had a perfect long weekend away in the south of France.  Food, weather, location – it was all idyllic.

E’s parents live in the beautiful Provençal countryside and so when H and I were invited to visit, we jumped at the chance.

Our arrival was met with a chilled bottle of rosé wine… and not just any rosé.  This was the much discussed Miraval – the vineyard born baby of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  The wine is made on their estate in Provence, Chateau Miraval.

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As it should be, the Jolie-Pitt bottle is rather sexy – and the wine is delicious.  It’s that very pale pink which is somehow bright at the same time.

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We sipped our wine, admired the garden, and settled in to that holiday feeling.

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And before we knew it, it was time for lunch (I promise it was just about midday when we started on the rosé…)

E’s Maman spoilt us all weekend with delicious fresh food, as you’ll see.

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Simple and healthy – ideal when you’re going to be slipping into a bikini later on.

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Grabbing a couple of apricots and bottle of water, we headed for the pool…

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Later on in the evening, we wandered around the garden – which is stunning.

Lavender

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Roses

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Poppies

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Isn’t this the loveliest place to sit?

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Before cocktail hour by the pool – freshly made margaritas.

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We slept very soundly after a dinner of salmon and sweet potato (which I forgot to photograph because I’m naughty – although this post will be pretty long as it is!).

It’s amazing how quiet it feels in the country when you’re used to being in London.  And it’s the best feeling in the world when you wake up and can sense the heat outside – stepping outside in pyjamas and eating croissant before the sun gets too hot.

After catching some sun the previous afternoon, we set off for a drive through the local villages.  The scenery is gorgeous, and the villages are shady and full of little cafés and dappled light.

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We picked a square with a fountain, and E selected a restaurant because it had grey chairs (the secret indicator of a good restaurant).  It turned out to be an excellent choice.

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That platter of amazingness that you can see is made up of four exquisite little dishes…

Le gaspacho de melon au basilic – I have never had melon gazpacho before but it was so refreshing.  I am definitely going to have a go at making it myself.

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Les petites tomates provençales farcies

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Le maquereau en escabèche et ses copeaux de légumes – mackerel is so good for you and the dressing was really crisp.

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La salade fraîcheur au magret de canard des Landes et ses framboises – I think this was my favourite.  I adore duck!

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E had foie gras and we finished our lunch with lychee sorbet and macarons. 

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The restaurant we were at is called La Place, and it is the ‘little sister’ restaurant of Oustau de Baumaniere in Les Baux.  We stumbled upon it completely by accident (thanks grey chairs)!  You can find it in Maussane-les-Alpilles – read about it on their website.

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The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing, reading, swimming, and of course, eating.

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Muggy, cloudy London can’t really complete right now can it?

At least I’ve got Glastonbury to look forward to!  Fingers crossed for the weather…

A massive thank you to E’s parents for looking after us so well.

Bisous

Burberry Kisses

13th June 2013

Burberry have just set up a website which is such a sweet idea that I thought I would share it.

It’s called Burberry Kisses and it manages to make technology more than a little bit romantic.

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Visit the site here and you can upload your own kiss and ‘send’ it to someone you love (or maybe someone you want to love?!).  The kiss is basically a virtual version of a lip print you’d make on a letter in the good old days.

If you open the site on your computer, you can use a webcam to capture your kiss.  Or (and I think this is better), open it on your mobile or tablet browser, and you have to actually kiss the screen.

You can pick what colour you want your lips to be (or no colour – for the boys!) and then send a personal message with your kiss to the recipient’s email.

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Here’s the really clever part – you enter your city and the city of the person you’re sending it to.  Once you’ve finished, an animation plays of the kiss flying through your city to the city it’s going to.  The site uses information from Google Earth to show accurate skylines of the cities – Romance for Nerds!

Burberry are planning to use the cities people enter to see where in the world is the most romantic.

Kiss your phone – you know you want to!

Here’s what my kiss looked like…

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SWALK x

22 North Street

12th June 2013

I have taken a while to write this post, and that’s because my time recently has been taken up by my least favourite activity – moving house.

Now that I am resettled, I can get back to business!

One of my lovely friends, A, recently got engaged.  J sent an email round to all the girls – she had decided to organise a surprise celebration dinner for her.

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I bought this card from a little shop on Islington                                     High Street

The restaurant she chose is perfect for special occasions, because you can book the private room downstairs.  This room is tucked away, with the door disguised as a book shelf (quirky), and you can play your own music using the iPod dock provided.

It’s called 22 North Street, and is located at No. 22 North Street (surprisingly), Clapham Old Town.  The website is here.

Some of the girls arrived early to decorate the room – A was arriving later, under the impression she was going to the cinema.  The décor downstairs is old school kitsch, so heart shaped balloons, confetti and bunting fitted in nicely!

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When we heard A was near, we got the bubbly and gifts at the ready…

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And after we’d all kissed and hugged hello – it was time to get down to the food.  There is a set menu offered for private dining, which changes regularly.  They’ll also do other set meals (like Roast, or Chateaubriand!) which you can ring up and ask about.

Here’s a peek at our set menu.

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I went for pate (I can’t ever resist pate) and the red snapper tacos.  I also took photos of the other choices that were made – so read onnnnn (said in the voice of Marcel the Shell).

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The chutney was perfect with the rich meatiness of the pate.

The goats’ cheese starter looked like this –

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Moving on to mains…

The tacos were the bit I was most excited for, and they didn’t disappoint.  The fish was fresh and delicately flavoured, and the taco itself was crispy but not greasy.  I would have preferred more pineapple-chilli salsa to be provided, as it ran out quite quickly (too yummy!) and then the dish lacked a little moisture.  But overall, still great.

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The conversation was flowing; we pulled our mini crackers and popped the party poppers…

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The lamb burger with halloumi was a popular choice.  I love halloumi – it’s so pleasantly salty. 

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My food envy was for the duck leg confit, which came with lentils and a cherry sauce.  Cherry goes really well with duck – it also works as a glaze.

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And while I usually don’t like ordering chicken in restaurants, as I tend to think it’s something you can do quite easily at home – the chicken breast looked very appetising indeed!

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None of us could manage pudding, which was a shame.  The cheese board especially was beckoning.  However, we did manage to chat and drink until the staff needed to go home.

I tucked this feather into A’s card – it’s from a 1950’s hat and I bought it at a vintage shop in Angel.  Something old, and something blue!  I thought it would be pretty tucked into her garter, or just kept in a wedding scrapbook.

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It was a great evening – congratulations again A!  

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