Dr John Hawkins
Welcome to my bit of the Maison de Stuff,
home to a huge load of pictures,
and my daily blog.
My email address is as above - I've put it in an image in a vein attempt to reduce the amount of spam I get.
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Maison de Stuff
- Recent Entries:
- Monaco to Paris to London
Saturday in Monaco
Paris Cocktails with Benoit
Breakfast in Green Park
Cocktails with Al
Coach and Horses
Knightsbridge and Belgravia
Country Life Fair
- Monaco to Paris to London
- [Sunday 26th October 2014]
Breakfast at the Hermitage, and a wander round Monaco in the morning. Lunch at Rene Socca in Nice, then spent most of the rest of the day on trains back to London.
- Saturday in Monaco
- [Saturday 25th October 2014]
Got an early train from Paris which shoul have had me in Monaco for just after 2 - instead it was after 4 by the time I arrived. Spent what was left of the afternoon and the early evening lounging around at the Hotel Hermitage, then a drink the Crystal Bar, followed by dinner at the Cafe de Paris, then a flutter at the casino.
- Paris Cocktails with Benoit
- [Friday 24th October 2014]
Got the Eurostar to Paris after work and met Benoit at Harry's New York Bar in Paris for cocktails.
- [Tuesday 21st October 2014]
Coffee and a croissant while waiting for a doctors appointment.
- Breakfast in Green Park
- [Sunday 19th October 2014]
Bought some pastries from the Wolseley and eat them in Green Park for breakfast.
- New Tie
- [Saturday 18th October 2014]
Bought a new tie to go with my tweed suit today.
- Cocktails with Al
- [Tuesday 14th October 2014]
Went out in the evening with Al, to Peyote and Mr Foggs in Mayfair.
- [Sunday 12th October 2014]
Took Erika to Whole Foods in Kensington in the afternoon.
- [Saturday 11th October 2014]
Took Erika to Greenwich Park, and tried Goddards, the pie and mash place there.
- [Friday 10th October 2014]
Went to visit another nursery in the morning. In the evening Chie and Erika came along to TGIF.
- Upsatair Bars
- [Wednesday 8th October 2014]
Went to Coco Bananas, the bar upstairs at "Bunga Bunga" in Battersea, followed by Joe's Bar, the bar upstairs at Olivocarne in Belgravia.
- [Tuesday 7th October 2014]
Last night I'd somehow ended up reading about London's pie and mash shops, a subject I'm slightly fascinated by, in part because my job at the moment has got me thinking about local specialities, and I was trying to think what that would mean for London. Of course London attracts a lot of foreign tourists, many of whom seem to associate English cuisine almost exclusively with fish and chips, but I think if you asked English people that's more something they'd associate with seaside towns and/or the north of England, not something London is particularly noted for. Similarly English breakfasts - which although fine examples thereof can be found in London (I am of course thinking about the Regency Cafe) don't really seem particularly unique to the capital. Perhaps afternoon tea might be something more strongly associated with London, what with all the posh hotels here which are famous for it, but again that seemed to not quite fit the bill as it isn't really everyday food for the average person.
So that only really leaves pie and mash as something really specific to London. Whilst of course these two components could just as easily exist elsewhere, the particular style found in London's pie and mash shops is really quite specific and consistent between establishments - the "liquor" (parsley sauce), eels in one of two formats (which nobody ever seems to actually order, in my experience) and the presumably slightly more recent addition to the cuisine of chilli vinegar. Oh and the accompanying sarsaparilla to drink.
As a vegetarian, prior to discovering Manze's I'd just written this whole cuisine off as something which would never be relevant to me. I was delighted and surprised to discover they had a vegetarian pie, but also assumed it to be a one off oddity. In my reading around last night though I discovered two other pie and mash shops also offer a vegetarian pie - G Kelly in Bethnal Green, and Arments in Kennington.
So at the earliest opportunity - lunchtime today - I popped down to Kennington (really quite a trek from the office as it turned out) to sample their wares. Despite Arments celebrating their centenary this year, the interior of the shop doesn't really have much of a sense of history, but regardless it does seem to have a very loyal following, and there was a continuous stream of what I presume to be regulars while I was there. The veggie pies had to be cooked (or at least reheated) to order, and it took a while to do so, but when they finally arrived, with the accompanying mash and liquor, it made for a very satisfying lunch indeed.
- Coach and Horses
- [Sunday 5th October 2014]
Took some clothes to the recycling bank in the morning, including a pale blue Harvie and Hudson shirt which was very much an old favourite, but now had an embarrassingly frayed collar, and was really past its best.
For lunch, I was really keen to have a decent Sunday roast in a pub somewhere, and so decided to introduce Erika to the Coach and Horses in Soho. Despite its potential to be quite, um, unruly in the evenings, at lunchtime on Sundays I'd several times seen kids in there, and I think since becoming an all-vegetarian pub it has generally become a lot more relaxed. It was very quiet in there this lunchtime, perhaps a bit too quiet, and for once I think I would have actually liked a bit of piped music so that the small handful of other customers wouldn't notice Erika's babbling - she wasn't exactly yelling and screaming, but she's also not yet learnt to moderate her volume, so in a quiet environment her normal voice can actually sound a bit loud.
I ordered a roast, Chie ordered the "tofush and chips" and we also got a veggie scotch egg, and shared all three. As I still have a pathological fear of boiled eggs I just ate a bit of the coating of the scotch egg, which was quite pleasant. The "tofush" pleasingly tasted of the sea, thanks to some nori mixed in with the batter.
Did a bit of shopping after that, as we were in the centre, including a visit to the newly refurbished Foyles, the childrens section thereof being particularly nice. I had a very pleasant quarter of an hour or so in there with Erika choosing a new book for her, followed by a coffee in the cafe upstairs.
Also bought some new cocktail ingredients in Gerry's on Old Compton Street, including Nardini's Rabarbaro liqeur (as I'd tried in the rhubarb Negroni at Princi) and some orange bitters. Experimented with these in the evening.
- Knightsbridge and Belgravia
- [Saturday 4th October 2014]
It rained a lot today, so I'm impressed we managed to get out of the flat at all really.
Towards the end of the morning we decided to head out of the flat, largely with the aim of going to Waitrose. Once we arrived in Belgravia, given the rain and both of us feeling a bit tired, we wanted to go somewhere for a coffee. For some reason the usual stalwart of Tom Tom didn't appeal, and instead we pressed on to Knightsbridge where I proposed going to Chapati and Karak so Chie could try it.
It was full inside, so we sat outside under the awning where we were more or less sheltered from the rain. Perhaps that was for the best, as judging by the looks from the entirely Middle Eastern clientele inside when we initially went in they didn't seem particularly thrilled at the prospect of us "foreigners" going in with a small child. Erika seemed to really like the chapati, and both Chie and I enjoyed the karak, (despite burning our mouths).
After that we went for a wander round Harrods, and in particular the childrens clothing department. I'd last been in there in the January sales, when we bought Erika a surprisingly reasonably priced Gucci cardigan. It was interesting to see as a contrast this time the prices these kinds of designer label kids clothes sell for outside of the sale. We bought a present for Chie's friend Ai-san who recently had a baby - a rather sweet baby blanket (not a designer label I hasten to add), but on this occasion decided not to buy a ~£300 garment for Erika.
We carried on from there to the Waitrose in Belgravia, the original object of our mission, and bought a larger than usual amount of shopping, at least in part because we wanted to use a trolley so Erika could sit in it.
From there we got a taxi back home, and spent most of the rest of the day in the flat, with the exception of a brief outing towards the end of the afternoon to try and get Erika to go to sleep, as she'd only had a very short nap earlier on.
- Tatershall Castle
- [Friday 3rd October 2014]
Went to visit a nursery in the morning, in the area we'd potentially be moving to should our flat purchase succeed. The process is still rumbling along disappointingly slowly. Up until now visits to the area had been generally very positive, and whilst I'm well aware it is a bit mixed - there are nicer bits and not so nice bits - overall I'd felt generally enthusiastic about being able to explore a new part of London. Today for some reason - perhaps because of facing the reality of having to take Erika away from her current nursery, and having to start commuting - I was a lot less keen on our prospective new neighbourhood. I started to notice the grottier bits more, and felt suddenly quite homesick for the relative pleasantness of SW1 (which, though of course is not also without its grotty bits, like any area of London).
On the plus side, in an odd way this helped me to relax about the flat purchase a bit - given that we've still not yet exchanged contracts, the seller can still of course pull out at any point, and with the frustrating delays caused by solicitors seemingly not wanting to do their jobs, that uncertainty has been dragged out a fair bit. So perhaps seeing some of the downsides of the area was helpful for feeling a bit philosophical about the whole thing.
In the evening, after initially going home and making dinner for the girls, I headed out again to meet some friends from work for a drink or two on the Tatershall Castle, the floating "pub" on the Thames near Embankment. Perhaps because of the morning's activity I wasn't wholly in the mood for it, and the not-really-my-type-of-people that the boat seems to attract didn't help.
The people from work all left well before closing time, so I rounded off the evening with a pint at the Ship and Shovel, wherein I read a lovely account of a barman who had worked there during the 1960s, in the days before that decade killed off the bowler hat.
- [Thursday 2nd October 2014]
Pizza for lunch at Maverick near Buckingham Palace.
- [Wednesday 1st October 2014]
- [Tuesday 30th September 2014]
- [Monday 29th September 2014]
- Country Life Fair
- [Sunday 28th September 2014]
Went to the Country Life Fair in Fulham Palace today. This was the first year it had been held.
It turned out to be a bit of a trek getting to Putney Bridge, as we first had to go to my office to print out the tickets (I almost always forget to do this when I'm actually at the office in the week) then the district line wasn't running from Victoria.
Got there just before midday, and were greeted with a glass of Champagne (and a "mocktail" for Erika) on arrival. Then we went for a wander round the stands. Pretty much the first set of which seemed to be all gunmakers, and I was reminded of how contradictory some of my "lifestyle choices" are. I like Country Life for a mixture of its bucolic portrayal of the subject matter to which the title refers, but also the unmistakeable air of posh about it. As a vegetarian though the hunting / shooting / fishing aspect of it obviously sits a bit less well. I think I must be in a really tiny minority of people who like both tweed and tofu.
We headed over to the sort of show ring area, where there was a demonstration of dog handling for children, and also a collection of farm animals. So this was nice for Erika, although as always she likes looking at animals from a safe distance, but under no circumstances actually wants to get close enough to touch them.
We had lunch sitting just outside the big marquis. Although we got a ham and cheese child-oriented sandwich for Erika, she preferred the venison sausage Chie got, combined with some mashed potato from my lunch (surprisingly there was in fact a vegetarian pie on offer, so I can't be the only one). I had a glass of Wiston (an English sparkling wine) to accompany it, which was superbly dry, right up my street.
Continued our wander round the stalls after lunch, and also watched a bit of morris dancing. Managed to get Erika to have a nap in her buggy. We headed off around 3:30.
Not much to report for the remainder of the day.