Wednesday, 14 July 2010

LondonZest & the Chocolate Factory

Not being a total chocolate addict like other people women I know, I've never really understood what the fuss is all about. I've always had more of a savoury tooth myself, so it goes without saying that I kind of remained stoic when my friend yanked me by the hand to go check out the Brit-born chocolate shop, Rococo, on King's Road. It's funny. I guess when some of us need that daily choc fix, I get mine from a bag of Kettle S&V crisps. I'm not one to order the chocolate cake for dessert. I'm never one to binge on an entire chocolate bar at the 3pm mark at the office. I enjoy a Ferrero Rocher once in a while but it doesn't send me to the moon. But these are different, she said. Cross my heart, she promised me, once you go Rococo, you never go back. She stared at me, wide-eyed and concerned, as if I were a leper, or missing out on one of life's most heavenly gifts. Perhaps I was.

I walked into the shop with low expectations and no appetite at all, after scarfing down a copious brunch at the diner next door, and walking around all morning in 30 degree heat emanating from the city pavement. But all I had to do was open my eyes to the edible jewels around me, clear my nostrils and breathe in the lovely scent of rich cocoa, surrounding me left, right, and center and I was won over. Chocolates of all kinds found their way into my shopping basket, through no fault of my own; my friend is still in the doghouse for converting me to chocolateism; praline, hazelnut and gianduja; white, milk and dark; rich, light and crunchy, they just kept on creeping up on me.

And then it hit me. Wait a minute, could it be? I like chocolate!? And not any kind of chocolate. Not only is the packaging most delightful and authentic, but the quality is something to write home about. I even purchased an armful of bags of Unsweetened Scorched Almonds as gifts for future hosts, just because they are by far the most scrumpscious drops of low calorie heaven I have ever tasted and I think everyone I know should experience the same kind of joy I felt when biting into one of these. So now, you can have have your chocolate, and eat it too, and not have to worry about those hips. It's a win, win, win!

Rococo Chocolates
Chelsea: 321 Kings Road, SW3 5EP
Belgravia: 5 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8JU
Marylebone:45 Marylebone High Street, W1U 5HG

Friday, 9 July 2010

No Beauty School Dropouts

Jumping back in time on the page has been the general trend this week so I thought it only natural to reminisce on another girly trend, but this time, on the 1950s: glamourette-style beauty parlours.That's right, Pink Ladies, it's time to puff up your lips, paint your nails and powder your noses. I've had enough already. Enough saving-up and enough self-pampering. I'm tired of counting every pence in my coin purse and I'm tired of using my home as a beauty salon. While I am one to generally lean towards the "do it yourself" treatments at home, you know, for the conscience, I also like to think of myself as a working woman, sometimes, albeit very rarely, who needs some QT with luxury and superficiality.

So this is my new haven of girliness, The Powder Room, by the one and only Powder Puff Girls, who successfully opened shop last year on Columbia Road and who have decided to lend us ladies a good hand by opening a Pop Up location on Marshall Street, in the delightful Newburgh Quarter by Carnaby Street. The little boutique is always buzzying with cheeky girliness, as you listen to side conversations of surprise engagements and wedding proposals at the counter next to yours. The staff is delightfully 1950s, with bleached-blonde chignons and long false lashes. Not to mention adorably dressed in pastel pink uniforms. You'd think you were transported back to Frenchie's Beauty School in Grease, and Frenchie is your stylist though she's no dropout.

So go ahead, indulge. Whether you need a quick fix like the "Busy Bee " manicure, the "Speedy Hairdo" or the "Jiffy makeup" for £15, or a more luxurious experience like the "Late for a Date" expert package for £30, you'll be sure to get exactly what you want. And if you're around on the weekend, you can get yourself the royal treatment by snacking on biscuits and sipping on tea while getting your makeup done. Walk in or book an appointment for yourself or a group of girlfriends. I guarantee you, it's well worth it, and well deserved.

Powder Room
Pop Up Parlour
34 Marshall Street

Powder Room
Full-Time Parlour
136 Columbia Road
E2 7RG

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A Swell Spectacle

With the Mad Men's season 4 premiere just around the corner, it's only natural to start daydreaming about the beautiful 1960s fashion: powder-blue pouffy skirts, frilly blouses, big hair, voluptuous red lips, kitten heels, lace garder belts and secretary glasses. Most of all, secretary glasses. How great that a pair of large reading spectacles can make any regular gal look like a sex kitten. I sort of envy women who can accessorize their face daily with more than a dab of makeup. It always seemed to me like it gave them an extra splash of power and confidence. 

So forget about the secretary thing. My very good friend C. has recently been gifted with these perfect pair of spectacles. Now is it me or does she look like she means business? Meow. Jokes aside, she's alot of fun. As a matter of fact, she's a total hoot. And guess what? She's no secretary, she's an ad lady too. And an important one at that. If I could allow myself one more observation, I'd say it's because of her glasses.

My very special model is sporting the swell and unique Knightsbridge-based Cutler & Gross eyewear, only suitable for over the top fun gals. If you are an over the top fun lady yourself, you could be the perfect candidate for these super stylish twins. They come in all shapes, colours and sizes, but more importantly whether you're interested in reading lenses or sunglasses, C & G epitomise glam and sophistication without screaming "label" or bling like other eyewear brands. They are imaginative and original, fun and playful, vintage and futuristic and always ones to grab attention.  

You can find yourselves a pair of reading glasses or sunnies at the very swell Cutler & Gross boutique located in the heart of Knighstbridge. You'll discover that there is a Betty Draper within everyone, even you.


Cutler & Gross Ltd
16 Knighstbridge Green

Cutler & Gross Vintage
7 Knighstbridge Green

Friday, 2 July 2010

Snob Food Limited

My unequivocal love for food has made itself quite public through this blog, and I have no shame for it in my heart. I am, and forever will be, a die hard foodie; a closet fat kid if you will. I was once scolded by an English teacher for eating a candy bar in class. It was disturbing my classmates, she said. "It is frowned upon in this school to treat the classroom like a cafeteria." That God awful teacher with a God awful bad ear for foreign languages, and who insisted the sound "the" was pronounced "zhe". Keep in mind, this was the French system, where rules made educators feel more worthy than their students, and most of all - it made them feel powerful. Most of the time, these rules were completely uncalled for or even made up. Since when has eating a candy bar in class disturbed anyone? I don't think so. Ever since I was a little girl, I've tricked my mind into believing that I didn't like sweets - for the sake of keeping my grades up, I guess.  

But now that it's no longer a matter of grades and being liked by your teachers, it's a duty of mine to try to enjoy (and share) my guilty pleasures to their fullest potential. Like this new discovery of mine, the awesomely handsome snob food cafe called Napket. No guilty consciences allowed in here. Licking your upper lip like the first time you stepped into a candy store is recommended. Better yet, it's encouraged. Think of that movie Chocolat. Johnny Depp isn't the only delicious thing worth saving your appetite for. Think of a chocolate torsadé or a double chocolate brioche for breakfast. Think of colourful summer salads, made up of puy lentils, bloody beetroot, fresh parsley and feta cheese for lunch. Think of a bowl of freshly cut tropical fruit for dessert and a frothy chocolatey cappuccino to keep you from falling asleep at your desk. No sin here.

The makers of Napket clearly have a passion for design and beautiful things. What with the oak-wood walls, the library-bar look and the romantic lighting, everything about the decor shouts out elegance and taste. And of course, the yummy dishes are as fancy as they are delicious, and are best enjoyed on Napket's regal chairs, reading the latest Metro gossip under a stylish chandelier - no less.  Who's teaching who a lesson now? Or should I say "whom"...

You can find Napket in various locations throughout London:
61 Piccadilly, W1J ODY
5 Vigo Street, W1S 3HD
6 Brook Street, W1S 1BB
34 Royal Exchange, EC3V 3 LP
342 Kings Road, SW3 5UR