Monday, 25 April 2011

Supperclub: Recipes and notes from the Underground restaurant

 Kerstin Rodgers, aka Ms MarmiteLover, is a firm favourite of mine, feeding guests from her kitchen table, hosting fantastically themed events and sharing her cooking and crafting knowledge from her home in Kilburn. Years spent running her Underground Restaurant as well as visiting supperclubs around the world have culminated in this beautiful book, a must-buy for all foodies.I'm going to be a really lazy writer and just quote India Knight who put it better than I ever could when she said;  'Supper Club is written by a proper, joyfully greedy girl (I mean that as the highest compliment) who really knows her stuff. It all sounds delicious - robust, non-poncy, just really good food'
Kerstin stepped away from the aga for a few minutes to answer some questions about the making of the book, and her dream meal.

When did you first start holding dinners at home?Was it a conscious decision to start a supper club?
I started in January 2009. I'd been to Cuba and seen the paladares...home restaurants and thought this would work well in London.
You've visited supper clubs around the world- which was your favourite?
Yes although I've visited supper clubs around the world, one of my favourites was held above a betting shop in East London. It was a Texan lady who grilled steaks (tuna steak in my case) on her barbeque on the roof top. The food was delicious but simple, her hostessing was great, friendly and relaxed. I prefer that to somewhere with poncy faux michelin star food to be honest.
Did you always plan on writing a recipe book?
I knew as soon as I started that there was a book in it. So the book is a third my story, the story of supperclubs and the rest is recipes. I think it's more than just a recipe book, there is a 'journey', a trajectory, a philosophy and the seeds of a movement.
Who taught you to cook?
My mum and all my boyfriends mums (who were mostly French).
What would you request for your last meal?
My last meal: spaghetti with good Italian tomatoes, lots of garlic and olive oil. A green salad with walnut oil and lemon juice. Good heavy oaky red wine. Cheeses: blue, cheddar, brillat savarin and goats cheeses. Great sourdough bread. Pavlova. I'm a peasant at heart.
'Supperclub' honestly has everything I could want from a cookbook, that is:
  •  Great recipes for varying levels of skill and investment, from marmite on toast with crispy seaweed to mint and white chocolate ice-cream.
  • Lots of interesting witty writing thats not all recipe orientated- in this case tips on running a supperclub and tales from Kirsten's own experience of doing so. 
  • Beautiful, inspirational photographs of both the writer's cooking and also her home, which really makes you feel like you get to know her personally
  • Lovely artwork other than the photographs- including great typography and illustrations which really add to the samples of Kirsten's 'themed menus' -including an Elvis menu (think deep fried peanut butter sandwiches) and a 'flower menu' featuring edible flowers and decorative gems like this floral ice bowl.

The Underground Royal Wedding Banquet  has sold out, so get your tickets for The Underground Night market on 6th May instead.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Happy Easter!

Here are some lovely vintage Easter images from one of my favourite Tumblrs; MothgirlWings. I'm off to a school friend's wedding in Harrogate this weekend, so having a few proper 'offline' days.

 I also finish the really strict part of my diet on Friday, so I'm looking forward to indulging a bit in post-wedding party brunch on Easter Sunday, as well as a Lindt bunny or two. If you're up for indulging, these are my recommendations for the coming weeks:

Foodie kings, Bompass and Parr pay tribute to Willie Wonka with a 50 tonne chocolate waterfall, 22nd-25th April.

On the 24th itself, if you don't fancy cooking your own meal, head to Ms MarmiteLover's for brunch and an Easter Egg hunt.

See royal wedding cakes from William the Conqueror to this day at the Tate&Lyle exhibition, 22-25th April at the Wellington Arch in Hyde Park.

And if looking at all those cakes makes you peckish, head to Maiden for Miss Cakehead's Will&Cake one day pop-up shop celebrating the Royal Wedding, tongue firmly in cheek.But get there quick, her last cake fest sold out in 3 hours!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Craft and Crown

Initially, I felt entirely indifferent about the whole royal wedding shebang; I was intrigued to see the dress of course, but otherwise I was pretty detached. But then, in some kind of silent national pact, the craft scene decided to embrace the event and use it as an excuse to celebrate and sometimes laugh at everything traditionally British. As a result I have totally got on board with the whole hype, as have a bunch of crafters who got together under the careful curation of UK Craft's godmother Perri Lewis for Craft and Crown at The Hospital club today. A feast fit for a king was laid out, featuring pork pies, giant scotch eggs, Victoria Sponge and other terribly British indulgences.(Still on stupid diet; I deserve a ruddy medal for sticking to it today) Second only to the craft community has been the foodie crowd's response to the royal wedding, using it as a good excuse for some right royal scoffing.; I'm indescribably excited about Miss Cakehead's forthcoming 'Will and Cake' event.

The first stall I perused was that of 'Me old China', where you could buy genuine vintage photographs and memorabilia from other royal weddings, as well as royal teacups turned into candles.

Lost and found Design had a huge array of Union Jack cushions; check their site for more brilliant vintage and bespoke pieces-the deckchairs are a must for anyone having a street party.

I love Naomi Ryder's embroidery on this 'London' curtain- this would look amazing on any window with a great London view.

Cassie and Rachel of Guts for Garters

Cassie and Rachel of Guts for Garters had somehow transported their precious vintage props, wardrobe and royal-themed artwork and accessories to The Hospital, and looked fabulous as ever.You can read about the launch of Guts for Garters here.

It was great to finally meet Nursey Bang Bang who donated a hand-sewn apron to the Bloggers for Japan fundraiser I held. She'd originally made it for Miss Cakehead's Cakes for Japan event- its such a small world in Craftville! You can see the fabulous Bloom Looms that were being demonstrated today in a special video :

My new talent discovery of the day was Ali Miller. Creating china and textiles often inspired by William Morris and other vintage influences, many of her pieces are one-of-a-kind. My photo doesn't do her work justice at all, so please have a look on her site here.

Commemorative plate from The House that Lars Built

There was more eye-catching crockery from The House that Lars built- I think this commemorative plate is really beautiful and would look fabulous displayed on a wall or dresser.There are mugs available too.

And to end on a foodie note, here's the wonderful Royal Wedding Breakfast menu tea-towel by Mr-PS.
How will you be celebrating the Royal Wedding?Or will you be giving it a miss?

I really don't feel the need to do another whole post dedicated to Royal Wedding merchandise,but just came across this Rob Ryan beauty which I had to include somewhere, so here it is!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Snidel and Jusglitty

Despite sounding like a couple of characters from Harry Potter, Snidle and Jusglitty are actually two incredibly cool Japanese labels. Both have a mix of traditional British and American influences; cropped trenches, blazers, stripes, silk scarves and a divine selection of spring and summer dresses. I also love the styling;hot air-balloon chair?Amazing!


Thursday, 14 April 2011

The sweet smell of Penhaligon's

Penhaligon's has always been a brand that I've admired from afar, but subconsciously thought rather too  posh and grown-up for me. I would pass the shop windows, full of oversized versions of their iconic glass bottles, and feel perhaps a little too intimidated to enter. But last night all these preconceptions were shattered at the brand's bloggers' event, behind the secret wardrobe door at Callooh Callay. By the time I arrived with Dana of Mien Magazine, the room already smelt divine, and we were immediately offered a special cocktail menu, with all the drinks inspired by Penhaligon's fragrances. Now I'm on a stupid diet so couldn't indulge, but nothing could stop me from helping myself to the selection of perfumes spread around the tables for testing. Emily of Penhaligon's came to explain to us the new fragrances, as well as sharing some key tips; for example, when applying perfume to your wrists, you should never rub them together to help it dry as that damages the top notes.Who knew?!I also sampled some of the lovely Vanities range- the handcream's aroma is very subtle so that it can be worn with any fragrance.

Next we had our personal fragrance profiles done by Richard who runs the Covent Garden store. We talked through our scent 'history'- from shameful teenage addiction's to The Body Shop's White Musk (please say this wasn't just me?)to the one perfume that I've stuck to since my late teens. We then tested a number of the Penhaligon's scents; without being able to see their names so as not to form any preconceptions, before narrowing it down to a final few which we then applied to our skin. It was strange, as I thought I was really torn between two scents until I smelt them on my wrists, at which point there was one which I clearly preferred; this is because the fragrance actually smells different on everyone's skin.And the scent that was the most 'me'? Cornubia, which contains vanilla, freesia, orange blossom and jasmine.

I also had a chat with Nicky, the brand's digital manager, who is to thank for enabling anyone to enjoy fragrance profiling on the Penhaligon's website. I have a huge amount of respect for the whole team, who have managed the delicate task of bringing a traditional brand with iconic heritage into the digital age, and translating the vintage glamour of the brand into a fresh, youthful energy. Whilst I have stuck with the same perfume since I was about 18, this is exactly the sort of experience that could convert me to a new scent. I'm particularly drawn to the history of the brand, the vintage feel of the packaging and the fact that I'm not faced with the airbrushed mug of a celebrity paid to flog yet another fragrance churned out by a huge fashion house. Penhaligon's perfumes are sold on the basis of the bottles' contents, which sell themselves,without call for gimmicks or reliance on trends. A rare quality, these days.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Alexandra Greco

Alexandra greco created her own collection due to her 'unyielding desire to encourage women to play dress-up in their everyday lives'; an ethos I can totally empathise with. Her simple, delicate pieces are inspired by 1920s silent film heroines and burlesque stars.Its all very Boardwalk Empire.I wrote a piece about fashion inspired by the TV series for Mien Magazine, featuring Le Luxe clothing who make great reproduction 1920s and 30s flapper dresses.Great dressing-up box stuff.

Kelly Macdonald as Margaret Schroeder who works in a shop selling gorgeous little slips and undies in HBO series Boardwalk Empire

Friday, 8 April 2011

Debut Contemporary- Interview with Samir Ceric

Samir and Zoe at Wolf and Badger

I've been lucky enough to work with some amazing artists in the last few years, and none have been as talented and lovely as Tinsel Edwards and Twinkle Troughton. After spotting their work at a tiny show about 4 years ago, I interviewed them both for Dazed Digital, and went on to work with them on a number of projects- they designed my website and Twinkle kindly lets me use her 'The Greatness of England' piece as the header for this blog! So when I heard they'd both been chosen to be part of a Debut Contemporary by what The Times describes as 'one of the UK's most powerful couples in fashion and art' I was really happy for them. I also wanted to know more about the project, and who better to tell me than Samir Ceric, one half of the power-couple who worked on the launch of brilliant boutique Wolf and Badger with the Graham brothers. Samir and his wife, Zoe Knight are running Debut Contemporary as an affordable exhibition and mentoring platform for emerging artists, who pocket 80% of the net sales from their artwork- a far bigger percentage than most galleries offer. The aim is to introduce artists to collectors,whilst at the same time teaching them about the business side of the industry and preparing them for the future.

When did you decide that you wanted to do something more Art orientated?
Samir: When working on Wolf and Badger, we aimed to give fashion and product designers support in terms of professional development and placement, but we realised that they actually have more understanding of the business side of things than artists. Through our work at Salon Contemporary- taking artists straight out of college environments to big, international exhibitions -we realised that artists and the artworld needed a professional development and mentoring platform more than the fashion world. So it was an organic decision, when we felt we had achieved what we wanted to contribute to Wolf and Badger, it seemed to be the next step.

Is it harder to sell art than it is to sell fashion?
Samir: Absolutely. It's harder because fashion is a lot more identifiable as a lifestyle. Art education is playing an important role in showcasing art to a wider audience; it is a lifestyle choice; scientific research has shown that if you're surrounded by art at your workplace or where you live your standard of living improves. I have made a prediction actually- I'm hoping that in the next 20-30 years, as every household today has one or two cars, every household then will have a few pieces of art. The role of patrons is very important, and people wrongly assume that you have to be incredibly wealthy to start collecting art, but you can pick up amazing pieces at degree shows or lesser known galleries for £100 or £200. This way you also establish a relationship between buyer and artist which has a huge influence on how the artist grows.

In an age of recession and funding cuts, artists getting to keep 80% of the profit from sales must be a huge help to them- do you hope other galleries will follow suit?Giving artists a fairer share of sale prices?
Samir:Absolutely; the fundamental principle and ethos of what we do as an 'artistic laboratory' is instigating something where artists learn a lot more about the trade side of things, and have knowledge passed on to them rather than held back.We do workshops- we had someone who used to work at Christies here the other day explaining that artists have a lot more power than they think- there have been many incidents of artists not understanding how the system works and being manipulated- as it happens in any industry. We are trying to get them to understand that unless they invest in themselves, no-one will do the job for them. They must accumulate the knowledge to turn art into a successful business- they need to be 110% sure that this is what they want to do, and not be shy about saying they want to be rich and famous.Not because they want their egos massaged or celebrity status, but because they want to be successful, the same way to be a top lawyer or banker, you have to work incredibly hard. You can't think of art as a hobby and not count on earning your living from it. Artists are often discouraged from talking about money and pricing their work; pricing strategy is as important for art as for any product in the market place- get it wrong and you're out of the market.
They also have to invest in relationships with the people who are buying their work- maintaining these relationships could prove to provide turning points in their careers- they have to show an interest in who's collecting their work and interact with these people.Few artists have the system of support from top galleries, museums and collectors, so the way around this is to invest in learning to do it yourself. Meeting people and identifying which galleries they feel association with- not just approaching every gallery. It's a two way process, you don't want to seem desperate and end up being show in the wrong environment. You must earn your status as a professional-work with curators, work with gallerists, but also independently. The era of an artist locked away in their studio is finished- even then it was rarely successful for artists within their lifetime. The 20th century was about market leaders keeping knowledge in house, the 21st century is about information sharing-platforms, networks, and a flow of knowledge.

The Salon Contemporary team

How to you go about choosing whose work you display-is it personal taste or do you try and consider whats fashionable at the moment?
Samir:It's a combination of the two- however great the piece of art is, its not good enough if the person creating it doesn't match the story- so we have to try to figure out whats behind the piece of art- what reasoning, ambition and aspiration these artists have and how their personalities match their artwork. We had 2000 applications for about 40 places.We looked at the work online then met about 250 artists to finally pick less than 50, so it was a tough choice. Its also about relationships and nice people- however good you might be, if you're not a nice person, if you're arrogant and big headed it will come back to haunt you. The most talented people I know are incredibly down to earth and lovely to work with.

by Tinsel Edwards

Having worked with Tinsel and Twinkle for 4 years, I can totally attest to this; whilst being creative masterminds, they also get work done and meet deadlines better than most non-artists I work with.
Samir:Artists can't say 'I'm an artist, I can get away with anything'anymore- first and foremost you're a professional- only the diligent and focused will succeed- I'm not talking about overnight success that lasts a couple of years- for real longevity of ones career- you've got to be consistent.

What's the one piece of advice you'd give artists starting out?
Samir:The success of their careers is in their hands. Their selection process has to be as rigorous as the professionals on the other side- they need to be more demanding about who they show with, how they're priced and invest more in business knowledge rather than relying on other people to do it for them. A Gallerist managing dozens of people will drop you if your work isn't selling, they won't fight for you. You need to accumulate as much knowledge and understanding as possible, for example the workshop on auction houses we held was to help artists learn about the secondary market.Like death and taxes-the secondary market WILL get you!And if you're not prepared, your entire career of work can be destroyed by one or two collectors flipping your work and it being devalued.Understanding is key, the power is in their hands.

Who would you like to paint your portrait?
Samir:An artist we discovered called James Allen, who is a talented young portrait painter-which isn't really encouraged any more; its very traditional but with a contemporary touch. Zoe and I might commission a portrait sometime soon. I'd rather stick to the talent of tomorrow than established figures.

Having conquered the fashion and art world, what's next?
Samir:I feel strongly about education and charity- I want art and design and the creative industry to play a bigger role in educating a wider audience as well as professionals. We can only manage so many artists here-I'm sure there are hundreds of other talented artists out there that need this, so I'm hoping as a result of this first year to be able to create educational tools to help anyone who works in creative fields, especially in visual art-to get their hands on something like a DVD or book to give them advice on their careers.The way some of the artists have been reacting to the knowledge we've been providing -their potential is being unleashed and after years of struggle they are now seeing what they have to do.
We recently lost two incredibly talented artists,twin sisters Jennie and Jessie Gunhammar to Lupus disease so we are launching a Lupus trust with money going to St Thomas' hospital; we're hoping through raising awareness of the illness they'll be able to open a walk in clinic.Lupus disease is not very well known- supposedly Lady Gaga's sister has it, Seal has it, and it is more prevalent than leukaemia. On 4th May we are launching the trust here with an auction where the Debut artists will each be donating a piece of art.
I want to try through art and design to change peoples lives- I don't need much in my lifetime neither do my children, but I want to make a long term difference and be remembered for that.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Las Pepas

Las Pepas is a brilliant Argentine label I came across; I wish I could understand their blog as its full of lovely images. The model in their Autumn/winter 2011 lookbook video is really cute, and I love the styling-a mix of preppy, old school pieces with an urban edge and some alternative tailoring.The thick stripes are a firm favourite of mine.And I want absolutely all the bags and shoes.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Spring has sprung

After a beautiful sunny spring day, I'm dying to fill my wardrobe with summery clothes like these by New York designer Lauren Moffatt. The Spring 2011 range is called 'The Honeymooner. And what she packed. They'd make perfect Easter day/bank holiday/wedding guest outfits.

You can buy lovely straw vintage bags like these from Etsy and cute straw boaters too.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Wedding Belles

Everyone's gone Wedding GaGa what with both the Kates off down the aisle and Vogue's matrimonial covers. Coincidentally, I recently discovered Maria Lucia Hohan whose work is mostly bridal, but so brilliantly fresh and original that she has now branched out into 'luxurywear' too.

Another wedding brand I was introduced to by Kate (Fabric of my Life) is BHLDN- it has the best bridesmaid dresses I've ever seen-none too 'bridesmaidy', you'd definitely be able to wear them again. Even the bridal gowns are really unique, and they have some beautiful cover-ups too.All very vintage-inspired.

They also have an adorable section of the site dedicated to inspiration from the past, with lots of priceless vintage photographs of weddings throughout the decades, like this gorgeous snap below. Will you be watching the Royal wedding?Or do you not give a toss?

I'm extremely excited about the current Alice Temperley wedding dress rumours for Kate Middleton, partly because I love Temperley, but partly also because she's the first person I thought of and suggested when the pair got engaged, so it would mean I get to have been right about something which is always ace!

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