Archives for posts with tag: Selfridges

Sofabrother and I had a day out today in London.

It’s always difficult to know where to take someone who is already knowledgable not only about London but also the food world. He always has things to show me in Cape Town and so I needed to reciprocate. We both observed just how over populated the food ‘scene’ is in London. Everywhere you go there is some new place opening, and shutting, so what is worth seeing and knowing?

photo 4

Our day started at the Tower of London. Not for its food offering, but because I really wanted to see the evolving art installation that is there. Those of you who know me well understand the relevance of poppies and this really is an incredibly moving, innovative, thought provoking artwork. Over 800,000 poppies fill the Tower’s moat representing the lost lives of the British military who died in the First World War. You can read more about it here and like me, buy one of those poppies here.

Onward to our food day. We decided to explore areas that Sofabro hadn’t already done on his trip and that took us first to Marylebone High Street. Honestly there was not a huge amount that was different there. La Fromagerie is as lovely as ever and Ginger Pig as impressive. Patisserie de Reves had the now famous Kouign Amann in a long oblong form rather than the traditional round and whichever way you look at it, layered buttery pastry with sugar can only be yum. Probably the most surprising moment was to see the old home of Divertimenti now under construction to be replaced by Anthropologie. Such a sign of the times. We grabbed a coffee at Nordic Bakery so that we could see the Swedish influence and then moved onwards to Selfridges.

There we were able to see some products that I wanted to show him. The Pressery almond milk is pure and wonderful, pressing (sorry – bad pun!) all the fashionable buttons that Roots and Bulbs also did on the way down to Oxford Street. The raw health market is one that is gaining coverage for the right reasons and cold pressing seems to be the thing to do lately whether with nuts, fruit, veg or coffee…or any combination of the above. These are quality drinks with nothing added. Pure goodness. They sat alongside Mr Sherick’s milkshakes, created by an old colleague of ours. This is the other extreme in terms of health, but certainly a wonderful product in its own right. The eponymous Mr Sherick used to work in the meat department at M&S and now he is the proud winner of the Grocer’s New Product of the Year 2014. Quite a feat.


We also had a nose at The Meringue Girls, Daylesford’s new buttermilk, Selfridge’s new range of Christmas products, a try of hot cordial and tasters at St John’s Bakery. Finally we passed Boomf magical mallows. This pod promoted a new service that allows you to print any picture you have onto a box of nine square marshmallows. White fluffy instagram pics. I don’t know if I was impressed or appalled at the thought that you could print a pic of your loved one, or favourite scene and then eat your way through the whole thing. What will they think of next?

Onwards through St Christopher’s place, Bond Street, South Molton Street and Regent Street until we arrived at Pitt Cue Co. Sofabro hadn’t eaten there yet, so we shared a couple of things and whilst the menu is not as exciting as previously and the prices not as keen, I was relieved to find that the food itself was as yummy as ever. Smoked kimchi, Mangalitsa pork shoulder, beans & red chard….all as rich, dense, smoky and meaty as ever. We needed to walk it off, so made our way back up Kingley Street, Great Portland Street and wended our way towards Tottenham Court Road.

We spotted the new Boopshi’s schnitzel & spritz offering which carried on the theme of so many of these places specialising in one thing. Like the Greek, Opso, that we saw earlier on, they are all offering a select menu, an industrial look & feel, metal, wood and the obligatory pendant lights made from something relevant: a whisk, a pot, a bottle….you name it. Continuing the design theme, we wandered along Tottenham Court Road through Heals, Habitat and West Elm before pondering the offer at Planet Organic and Paul A. Young for a chocolate fix.

HCo table


Finally, we ended up at Honey & Co. It felt right that we went there as it has received so much coverage. It’s such an unassuming place but has received great publicity because of its food offer and also its book. I kind of wanted to find it pretentious so that I could snub it but the truth is that it is as good, if not better than people say. We perched outside on a little table, had mint tea made with handfuls of fresh mint and shared a warm chestnut cake with salted caramel. The chef/owner, Itamar Srulovich welcomed us personally as if we were old friends and took us through the impressive afternoon cake offering. He charmed us with observations about his lovely wife and served us himself the most delicate cake. I was touched by the tiny vase of flowers on the table. Plucked daisies and cornflowers just showed me how much they cared, and it reflected in their food. We browsed the book, pondered our day and shared our thoughts before Sofabro went South and I went North to our respective homes. Next time, Cape Town but for now, a great day in London.



Christmas seems to have pounced upon us from a very warm mild place and suddenly I am desperately wrapping, ribboning and checking that I haven’t left anyone out.

I have been perusing the pages to see what food inspired gifts I have missed in my shopping this year and did my usual rounds of the department stores who are in their element at this time of year. You can really understand why they are destination shopping emporiums. Where Selfridges and Fortnums inspire, so Liberty was a difficult place to shop this year. But it is worth noting that there were deals to be had everywhere if you were prepared to wait. Note to self: hold out for the Selfridges 20% off day in 2014!


As for the independents, some continue to just do a wonderful job. Clearly my friends at Melrose and Morgan are a destination shop for treats galore with the most impressive bakery range of biscuits and cakes. I also thought that Daylesford managed their gift boxes very well this year. I know it’s not fashionable to say this, but I loved Carluccio’s as well, with their lovely panettone packaging and that grown up Terry’s chocolate orange: Clemente in Camicia.


For something a bit more unusual, visit Brindisa, the new Maille shop in Piccadilly and here’s one from my Master of Wine expert friend: Hedonism Wines in Davies Street…amazing.

In no particular order, and in deference to the lovely army boy, here are a few top lists of my picks for this year:


1. The soda stream: from £79.99. I got mine last year and love it simply for sparkling water, but I am sure you can do so much more. Try Lakeland for a good deal


2. Brindisa’s Iberico Bellota Pequeno Ham set £380. I know a friend of mine has bought this for her hubby and I am very jealous. How perfect. a whole bellota ham complete with stand, knife and a DVD to show you how to carve!


3. The Wonderbag £59.99. This eco friendly cooking utensil is the creation of South African Sarah Collins. It reminded me of the street food we had in Peru and I am sure it harks back to the way our third world ancestors cooked. Now the latest trendy green must have in the kitchen, it is the perfect present as we hit the winter season for wonderful slow cooked meals. And, for every one we buy, Ms Collins donates one to a family in need in Africa. What a lady! No wonder she was named one of Fortune’s most powerful women entrepreneurs 2013.


stollen bites

1. Stollen Bites from Melrose and Morgan. Well frankly anything from here so why stop there. The biscuit range, cakes, puds, savoury biscuits…I could go one. All wrapped in their own elegant, inimitable style and ideal for Christmas gift giving.

2. Kenspeckle cinder toffee coal may have sold out now, but they are worth noting for the future.

Maille pots

3. Maille mustard pots which make the most wonderful gift. You can splash out in the Sauternes or Chablis & black truffle variety or keep it simple. Up to you.

4. Amelia Rope chocolate cubes. Created last year, but still so relevant with bite sized treats of all her award winning flavours.

5. Selfridges bombes: more chocolate but a cute design and great stocking filler.


Not normally my speciality but special mention goes to the following:

1. Chase vodka’s seasonal flavour which is Rhubarb this year


2. Grays and Feather ‘drink me‘ mini bottles are a must have – so cute!

3. Taster boxes: both whisky and gin feature heavily this year at places like Masters of Malt, and Compass Box Whisky Company.

4. For something completely different, how about renting a row of St Emilion Grand Cru vines. This £159.97 experience from Vintage Wine Gifts includes wine, accessories and a personal tour of the vineyard.

Best Christmas product 2013

And the prize for just the best product I have seen this year goes to … Asda (!) for their Christmas tree crumpets.


Christmas is almost upon us and this weekend consumer are predicted by the BRC to break sales records with a £5billion spend as last minute shoppers go in search of price deals on their perfect gift.

All your shopping needs taken care of by the magical elfridge

All your shopping needs taken care of by the magical elfridge

My search of London didn’t really excite too much with predictable gifts for a food lover like me. I trawled the big department stores in the hope that places like Liberty, Fortnums and Harrods would inspire but to be honest none are a patch on Selfridges, who just got it right. It may have been the brigade of Elfridges, complete with Vivienne Westwood red ballgowns and roller skates, or perhaps the many one off concessions, or even the samplings and demos, but the overall experience is just top class.


I managed to find my whole popcorn shopping here at a better price than I was looking at online. I went for the more traditional stove top version with funky containers and obviously lots of interesting corns. You could also add a jar of Joe and Seph’s if you wanted something ready made. As in the US, popcorn, waffles, DIY sets and all things with coffee or chocolate were featured in abundance.

Alcohol is also excelling itself with cocktails, one off unique blends, fantastic packaging and lots more to entice, but I am not a big drinker so I focused on the food this year.

Love brownies

For my gift buying, there were a few people that I would like to recommend. Firstly Love Brownies. The wonderful Chantal is from my home county of Yorkshire and bakes superb award winning brownies, but the real treat is the packaging which is clever, contemporary and colourful. Easy to order, simply delivered and great value, these are perfect for all occasions.


The other Yorkshire company that has been a personal favourite of mine is Lauden Chocolates. This husband and wife team make incredible one off chocolates with real fruit centres and different chocolate coatings to match the filling. I am not one for fruit and chocolate but these really make you re-evaluate all that. And there is a fantastic salted caramel version just in case you want something else. Of course, there are the usual chocolate shops such as Paul Young and Marc de Marquette, but I like to support Lauden and again their product is superb and their packaging  clean and contemporary.

Other shops on my list which have continued to excite this year are The Sampler in Islington for wonderful wines, Ottolenghi if only for their clementine jam, La Fromagerie for great, if very pricey cheese, Sally Clarkes for general yumminess and of course my lovely friends at Melrose and Morgan. They just make the most wonderful things and a trip to either of their shops in Hampstead or Primrose Hill will inspire you to leave with huge armfuls of their home made treats, plus the best sausage roll around as a treat for you to indulge in … well, you have been schlepping around all day. This year, M&M’s stollen has been the surprise treat which has been added to their catalogue of wonderful things including their light, tasty Christmas pudding made with Clay Barn Orchard quinces and the best mince pies with crumbly buttery pastry and a juicy tasty filling. I don’t even like mince pies!

At this point, I do have to mention Anthropologie which is great for kitchen and gift inspiration. A friend of mine went there today having been all over trying to find something for her 21 year old daughter and was amazed and delighted. And for online inspiration, I like Not on the High Street. Once again, they have one-off gifts and great things to personalise. For something different and spot on with the whole Scandinavian trend, have a look at Daniel’s website: Bageriet. These treats are all home made and he is a superb baker. If you really want to push the boat out ask him about his gingerbread houses. I know they are not shown on the website, but take my word for it, they are amazing.


Finally, for something a little different, the big fashion this year is to give an experience rather than a product. Book a course to learn how to make bread, or honey, or all things fishy, or even a full on butchery course. And if you want to send something out there, you could do worse than repeat my Rent a Cherry Tree gift (even if the weather ruined the crop this year) or adopt an olive tree for a year which promises quarterly deliveries of oil made from your very own olives. I used Nudo last year and their packaging seemed to impress my friend over in New Zealand.

So Merry Christmas one and all. Let me know if there was anything that you were particularly impressed with this year and have a wonderful celebration. Here’s to 2013.

Selfridges bring the weekend to life

Those clever boys at Bompas and Parr have done it again.

I first encountered their creations two years ago at The Complete History of Food which was a full sensory experience and really put their talents on the map. Since then, they have collaborated on many projects first working in the mass retail environment in October 2010 with their Artisanal Chewing Gum Factory at Whiteleys shopping centre, following with the Chocolate Waterfall 6 months later.

Last year, they started working with Selfridges on their rooftop, which had previously been home of the Pierre Koffman pop up. The set up there is perfect to create an event with one lift servicing the roof and a team who are experienced at coming up with innovative designs as demonstrated by their window displays. Just look at this latest Jubilee example….

Another tongue in cheek window to support the Jubilee

So it makes sense for these two to join forces and luckily for us, it seems that the plan is to do more and more.

This weekend we are invited to celebrate on the roof with a pop up restaurant from Daylesford along with a crazy golf experience from those B&P boys. It really is clever. Simple iconic London buildings recreated at the centre of each hole and views over the very same London city from up there on that roof.

Go see, go play, go partake in yummy tea.

Happy Jubilee everyone.

Crazy golf comes to Selfridges rooftop

First hole – Big Ben

Hole 4 – The Tower of London

Final hole – The Gherkin

Time for Tea