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Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Tuesday's Girl..... Freja Beha Erichsen by Patrick Demarchelier

Monday, 23 September 2013

If Music be the Food of Love...Buon Apetito!

Upon our arrival we stopped for lunch at the first place that caught out eye...TRE MERLI in the Antiques district. The outside terrace looked appealing,the other patrons were smiling so we sat down..gasping with thirst and with rumbling tummies.

The young waiter was "lurch-like" he hovered over us,spoke barely above a whisper and after he gave us our menus seemed to wallow in invisible quicksand...Everything seemed to be too much for him to bare:...waiting at the till for change....getting an order out...taking an order!! ...we were not only starving by the time he inched his way to us but so thirsty our tongues had developped fur coats :

"What would you like?" he asked amicably.
" I would like a Quatro Stagioni pizza please..."
"Ok...and you?" he turned to the Coach.
" A Calzone please."
"We would  also like a couple of beers...what do you recommend?" I shouldn't have bothered as his reply came wafting towards my ears on the wings of a whisper...i.e: I didn't hear a bloody thing .
"Yes"...said the Coach and we hoped for the best.

The beers were in long,cool glasses and we chugged merrily....before the waiter retraced his steps:

" ...Sorry...what pizzas did you order ?" Yikes!

It was a longish wait but we were on holiday...where was the rush? He showed up with pizzas and we smiled with relief ...until:

"Calzone for Signore and....Quatro Formaggi per lei..."

I looked down in disbelief:
" I asked for Quatro STAZIONI not FORMAGGI!?"

Unflustered he accepted his mistake :

"It will take 5 mns, signora".....

The pizza was good and by that I mean the crust and the Tallagio cheese...the tinned mushrooms and artichokes just looked sad and ruined my pizza experience in la Bella Firenze.

But not one to linger on culinary disasters we knew we had dinner plans with my aunt that evening and it did not disappoint:

Buca della' Orafo  is just off the Ponte Vecchio with an entrance so small you could sneeze and miss it but what it lacks in size makes up for in food.

I had the thin slices of beef and Parmesan shavings with sage and herbs and yummy stuff that makes you close your eyes and see angels frolicking on clouds.

 ...look...the food was gorgeous...enough said.

On our last night Patrizia suggested the Trattoria del Orto...which was over the bridge and easily found and not far from our hotel..as the crow flies and with the promise of the best fiori di zucchini stuffed with mozzarella... we were positively struttin' like peacocks.

 The terrace is lovely ,there is something about eating outdoors when you no longer have to suffer the indignities of summer heat and it's unsightly consequences...which I suffered profusely at Buca della Orafo...what can I say...the A/C wasn't on!

 Here they are the marvellous,mouthwateringly good: stuffed courgette flowers in a batter as light as a gossamer wing.

 The Coach's Charcuteria platter....

And then my main dish....Pappardelle al cingale: wild boar with pappardelle pasta...I am swooning just looking at the photo....Lord only knows what the Coach ordered I cannot remember for the life of me...back to my pappardelle...

The food in Florence is simply divine...there is no other way to put it...Delicious,down to earth cooking that holds your stomach hostage during your stay that upon your return home...nothing... simply nothing! is worth eating.....
Well, until you get over it.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Pictures Paint a Thousand Words: Florence 3

SSSSHHHH! ....no words.....just pictures......

from the Uffizi.....outdoor terrace


 Now for the relaxing,undulating hills of Tuscany...at La Gigliola.....

....this estate:which comprises vineyards and olive trees and rooms with many gorgeous views is run by and belongs to the ever smiling,ever delightful Anna Piazzini and family.
This is a place of quiet contemplation, a 30mns drive from central Florence via the highway and far enough to be serene yet close enough to be in the scene...if you get what I mean!...

There are rooms and suites to stay in and around the restored farmhouse and a rather grandiose villa that sleeps 7 couples with a walk in fireplace,billiard table...a country style kitchen that begs to be used and plenty of grounds to walk around in with pools and tennis courts.

For wine buffs....The Camporsoli  is a full bodied, velvety smooth red wine
                              The Campoleo, a merlot like none I have had in a long while...
                              The Villa Milani Chianti is both playful and refreshing...and 
                              The Gigliolino Bianco is fresh and crisp as a summer's day

We should know! We bought 18 bottles of wine and a gorgeous bottle of their extra virgin olive oil......

Charcuteria anyone? I'll get the wine!

For in depth information on La Gigliola...do go to their website:http://www.lagigliola.it/en/

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

A City for Dreamers...: Florence 2

                                                The Coach taking in the sights.....

 My desire to visit Florence was fuelled by 2 very solid reasons : my aunt... who is staying there and "Inferno" by Dan Brown....
.....and that could also be the reason for the very many Americans in town... (for Dan Brown...they most likely don't know my aunt as lovely and charming as she is.) 
I was told by her friend, the equally charming Patrizia ( a professor of "Wine and Food" at the University) that "Inferno" packages are now on offer to visit the Florentine sites in the footsteps of the illustrious Professor Langdon ... in seersucker instead of Harris Tweeds and hopefully without being chased by Big men with lil' guns.  


My first priority was to find the main shopping street....the "Designer' hood" of sorts and that is along Via Tornabuoni...
There you will find the Italian greats such as Gucci,Pucci and Ferragamo...the latter 2 natives of Florence. There is also a Ferragamo museum and hotel: The Gallery Hotel Art which has a fabulous outdoor section for drinks and snacks....very chic.
We happened upon the Cavalli store with its adjoining Cafe....and the soon to be opened COS (as previously mentioned in another post.)
There is a large variety of stores but I didn't come across any major finds....then again we were hardly there long enough. 

Chanel: overlooks the charming Piazza della Signoria that is home to the magnificent Accademia di Bella Arte....or the Uffizi for you and me, lovingly guarded by Michelangelo's cool and aloof  David.. casually flaunting his assets to all and sundry....then again not much there to fill his Armani briefs.

"He has more locks around his penis than I have on my head!..." stated the Coach with gusto.
" But look how they curl! " I exclaim...."he must shampoo with L'Oreal...."

Back to earth and us mere mortals who love to shop in a more affordable manner,head to the lovely Piazza della Repubblica. There the hustle and bustle is both chic and contagious and people watchers heaven.You will find Zara, H&M, Pinko and the upscale department store Rinascente...which was disappointingly packed to the rafters with French designers: Zadig.....Comptoire des Cotoniers......Sandro......S by Rykiel.....YADDAH YADDAH YADDAH...Phooey!

               THE BASILICA SANTA MARIA NOVELLA ....under the blisteringly hot sky 

Aaah! The magical Ponte Vecchio and its jewellery stores ...you cross it feeling like you are stepping forwards and yet backwards in time. You've got to experience it for yourselves...it is quite engaging. 



Don't want to overload you.....
So....Tune in domani !

Monday, 16 September 2013

Under the Tuscan skies.....Florence.

A 5 hour drive later, having lefter cooler climes on the Riviera we were once again subjected to extreme heat in la bella Firenze.....what to do but soldier on.

We stayed at The Starhotels Michelangelo : a four star hotel a stones throw from the river Arno and in the consulate district...which we discovered as we walked passed several times. It isn't in the heart of things but the heart is beating 15mns away and you get to it in no time early in the morning when the heat hasn't assaulted the senses but it is a schlep back when you are schvitzing like a demon come midday.

The reception area upon entry does have the "Wow factor" but has a forlorn feeling about it...it lacks the vivacity the decor invites...there is no "bar appeal" even though the bar is quite lovely and the "massage chair" sits amongst the decor like the elephant in the room ....and when you see the size of it...you'll get the picture. 

The room was very nice,extremely comfortable and just the level of modern minimalism that doesn't bring on a sciatica! You can lounge on the settee, there is a desk and chair and the bed is wide and the mattress surprisingly firm. No complaints there,whatsoever...the bathroom was generous in size,well lit ...perfect. Disappointing really that with all that is going for it,the shower can only muster a trickle when you really need a downpour and the bath towel resembled Swiss cheese...The Coach's( I have decided to refer to my other half by his profession...) towel was worn and had several holes...for a 4 star hotel....? Really!



                                                                     *THE HOLE*
Now to breakfast...the buffet is vast and the choice is there and yet...I soon realised there was nothing I really wanted....let alone the bowl of lacklustre salad...for the brave! The croissants were sticky sweet and filled with cream or chocolate...coming from France this was an act of culinary war. The bread: tasteless and I had noticed this in the restaurants too...no salt? Some of the fruits in the fruit salad were inedible: too hard,too soft, no taste and skin like leather you had to swallow it down fast for fear of choking. Very disappointing even the Coach who LOVES his breakfast was extremely let down. And the worst crime of all....lukewarm water coming from the "Hot Water" container...my tea needs to be piping otherwise I simply can't drink it.

 I have saved the best for last: on our last day; Sunday...the day of rest and lying in...we were unceremoniously awoken at 5.30am to the sound of running water and the filling of the bath...yes I am quite sure because it sounded as though it was coming from our own bathroom. Then we could discern the sound of someone bathing...farting....then washing some more from the bassin. The walls are as thin as their towels unfortunately .....

Amusing Moment:

American man in bermudas and flipflops came into the elevator with us, we pressed 3 and he, 4:
" Hot enough for you?..." bemused chuckle as he saw me wipe my brow with the back of my hand.

" Sure is!" I replied a little over enthusiastically.

"Kinda gets ya' where it hurts" he continued merrily as he proceeded to march out ahead of us on our floor and knock on someone's door...except ...

"Erm ...Wrong floor sir" said the Coach to the man who soon realized his mistake and added:

" Darn right makes you delirious too!!!" 

                                    More on Florence and photos galore....Laters!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Wise words from a wise woman:

Diana Vreeland.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Bag It Up...

Chanel's new store has blown my mind!...designed by Peter Marino it is the largest flagship store outside of Paris and....wait for this.....
It has a 56ft-long bag bar...you heard me!! A Bag Bar....

Happy hour is every hour at Chanel's bag bar ...unfortunately the round will never be on them!


This magnificent tour de force is centred around an atrium which features a giant futuristic looking pearl necklace by the artist Jean-Michel Othoniel. It is on 3 floors and inspired by Coco's lavish apartment in rue Cambon.

The service is as impeccable as the items on sale....you are the client and the client is always  Queen at Chanel....at least I have been lucky enough to have had the royal treatment, be it at the Cannes boutique as the one in London....

Chanel....Sweet dreams are made of this.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Be-COS You're Worth it....

This won't come as news to any one who knows me ....I love to buy basics at COS .

COS is a Swedish brand( and sibling of H&M) that is now successfully into its 7th year on the high street.
You can measure its success by the amount of shops it is opening around the central London area.
The flagship shop is on Regents street which can be a right pain over the weekend due to the masses of people but on a smaller level therefore with a more concise collection chosen by a buyer you can go to the COS Corner in Selfridges.
There is now a biggish COS on Knightsbridge just hop and a skip from Harrods with a new shop opening on Kings Road ( in the Peter Jones area.)
Can I hear a YAY!!!

COS stands for : Collection of Style and it supplements any die hard fashionistas wardrobe to a T or should I say C....

I just got back from a weekend in Florence ...more on that later ...and what did I behold? Why a huge COS store getting ready to wow the Tuscan shoppers. 

The minimalist approach to fashion is what attracts the hoards of fans like moths to a flame...Clean lines,asymmetric cuts, with collections that are vast and varied to suit every pallet is their winning ticket to guaranteed sales...Not to mention wallet friendly prices. You can buy an entire outfit : from head to toe and not break the bank and have enough left over for a fancy lunch out....Seriously. Then add to that your Chanel handbag, your latest Zanotti booties...tie a Gucci silk scarf around your neck and you are catwalk ready. 

A coat from COS will keep you warm and see you through the winter ...it won't cost as much as a Max Mara and may not last an eternity but in a fast turn over, fashion fickle market when looks change faster than a season ...and when your budget won't always stretch towards the big name market...this is the way to go.

I will always enter a COS shop...be it in London, Paris or ....Florence and yet I can't seem to cross the threshold into The Kooples......

There's food for thought...
...Talking about food...I'm starving.

Check out their website:http://www.cosstores.com/Shop