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London, Stores

RossoTerrazza at John Lewis, London

Summer is here and the sales are on, so where better to take a break from the Oxford Street crowds than a rooftop oasis in the heart of it all?

The sixth floor rooftop at the flagship John Lewis Oxford Street department store has been transformed into a tropical Summer Retreat, complete with palm trees, pastel beach huts furnished with John Lewis summer products, colourful lanterns and parrots aplenty.

The entire terrace is decked out with astroturf and there are turquoise picnic tables and cosy nooks, so you can really make the most of being outside.

Of course, the experience is made even better with the addition of Neapolitan street food and cocktails by Rossopomodoro and healthy juices from Joe and the Juice.

RossoTerrazza features a cute, wood-panelled ‘beach shack’ with a well-stocked bar and food counter where you can order from a menu of tempting Mediterranean bites.

We started with some suitably Italian cocktails – mine was a tall and refreshing Aperol Spritz while Steven enjoyed a rather potent, sweet and sour Godfather.  The cocktail list is quite extensive, balancing aperitivo classics with summer crowd-pleasers such as Pina Colada, Sex on the Beach, Shark Bite and Tutti Frutti.

We both ordered Rotolini pizza wraps, which were fresly made to order and served in cool boat-shaped recycled wood plates.  I went for Nduja, made with chicken breast, spicy nduja, mascarpone cheese and mixed peppers.

Instead of a regular flour tortilla (which wouldn’t be very Italian), the wraps are made from thin, soft and ever so tasty pizza dough.  My wrap was packed full of high quality roast chicken, red and yellow pepper marinated in olive oil, just enough piquant nduja to give it flavour and plenty of silky, oozing mascarpone cheese.

It’d expected it to be small but it was surprisingly substantial and filling – perfect for a hearty lunch.

Steven went for Salmone – smoked salmon, buffalo ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes and rocket.  His wrap was big on taste with bold cooked salmon flavours, peppery rocket and authentic, creamy ricotta.  The pizza wraps come highly recommended, but you can also try Saltimbocca pizza panini, Spiedini mozzarella skewers and fresh salads.

RossoTerrazza is open all day, but it seems best to visit not too late in the evening, as two of the three salads had run out by the time we arrived at 6pm.

I can’t resist Italian cakes and RossoTerrazza’s Pastiera is an absolute must – it’s simply heavenly.  The dense, buttery tart was filled with set ricotta custard studded with candied orange and lemon peel and scented with fragrant orange blossom.  I can see myself being lured back to the terrace for a slice with a pot of tea – in fact, it’s a good excuse to go shopping.

Another hit was the home-made Pistachio Ice Cream, which was so smooth and rich with a natural taste of roasted pistachio nuts a subtle colour (not the usual bright green shade).

The cocktails and food at RossoTerrazza were excellent and a lighter, creative way to enjoy a taste of pizza.  The John Lewis Summer Retreat is already a popular spot in central London, so go and grab a spot in the sun and enjoy the summer from above.

For more information, visit: www.rossopomodoro.co.uk

Chérie City was a guest of RossoTerrazza

All photos by Chérie City

 

London, Shopping, Stores

Shinola Detroit – London Soho Store

I fell in love with Detroit-based watch and leather company Shinola when it arrived in Europe two years ago.  Ahead of its launch at Colette in Paris, I met up with the Shinola team and found out first hand just how cool and unique the brand is.

Shinola opened its first standalone store outside of the US in London late last year, just off Carnaby on quaint, cobbled Newburgh Street.

This pocket of Soho has become quite the haven for menswear, with neighbours including Fred Perry, Onitsuka Tiger, Peckham Rye, Nixon, Filson and Flying Horse.  The location really couldn’t be any more perfect for the all-American modern heritage brand.

If you don’t already know about Shinola, it’s a lifestyle brand with soul and a social conscience, established in 2011 by Tom Kartsotis – the founder of Fossil watches.

Shinola’s range of luxurious watches, leather goods and bicycles are hand-made by craftsmen from its factory within Detroit’s College of Creative Studies.  As the brand expands organically, its roots remain firmly in Detroit and they continue to reinvest in the recovering city.

The petite, two-floor Shinola London store features the full collection of watches and quality products including American footballs, baseball jackets, leather-bound journals, pet accessories, candles and home furnishings.

You can also enjoy a bottle of Shinola Cola and of course pick up a tub of the famous Shinola shoe polish.

Part of the store is fitted out like a cabinet of curiosities with watches such as the bestselling Runwell presented in open cases ready to try on.  The watch straps are made with American leather and naturally vegetable dyed, then hand-cut, stitched and finished.

There’s also an engraving station, so that pieces can be personalised in-store.

The basement houses the most covetable Shinola bicycles that are hand-assembled in Detroit and available in beautiful bold and pastel colours with luxurious leather details.

Shinola London is a great destination store where you can learn all about the brand and discover new products.  I love all of the products but particularly have my eye on the stunning new Accordion Crossbody Bag in red.

For more information, visit: www.shinola.co.uk

All photos by Chérie City

 

New York, Shopping, Stores, Websites

Hayes and Jarvis Shop NYC App

New York is famed for its amazing shopping and it’s one of my favourite cities for finding those cool hidden gems.

While I love wandering around the Big Apple and discovering hotspots as I go, it can be easy to take a wrong turn and miss the best shopping streets.  Luckily, travel specialists Hayes and Jarvis have created a handy Shop NYC app for the iPhone, so you’ll never miss the best places to drop some dollars.

The innovative app features 100 of New York’s best stores handpicked by retail experts as well as curated shopping guides and reviews of all stores.

The stores are filtered into 10 categories for easy navigation, under sections including American Classics, Beauty Products, New York One-Offs, Classic Department Stores, Homewares and Food & Drink.  It couldn’t be easier to plan a day of boutique hopping, or simply whip out the app when you’re in need of a bit of instant inspiration.

Shoppers can find important info such as opening hours, direct links to the store websites and even call stores directly from the app.  Even though New York is known as the city that doesn’t sleep, it’s still easy to make a shopping faux pas and arrive to find the shutters closed, wasting valuable holiday time.

One of my favourite features is the route planner, calculating the walking time between stores and noting the spots that you can visit on the way.  It’s almost impossible to get lost, as the real-time GPS pinpoints your location and guides you along your route.

My favourite shopping area is Downtown New York, in particular its SoHo and Nolita neighbourhoods.  This hip area below Houston Street is filled with designer concept stores, independent boutiques, and American brands that are hard to find in the UK.

Here are a few of my favourite haunts on the SoHo and Nolita shopping scene…

Madewell SoHo

The younger sister of J.Crew, Madewell is the place to find your downtown New York wardrobe with high quality basics, casual dresses and slouchy leather bags.  I bought one of my favourite jewellery pieces – a hot pink thread and gold bead necklace – at Madewell last time I was in the US and often stock up on accessories there.

Opening Ceremony

Carol Lim and Humberto Leon launched their first Opening Ceremony store in New York and this SoHo store still leads the way with a well-edited selection of pieces by designers across the world.  Look out for cool sneakers, exclusive collaborations and lashings of KENZO.

Nicole Miller

I’m a fan of New York-based designer Nicole Miller’s cool, playful clothes with bold prints and interesting design details.  With only one other store in West Hollywood, you’re sure to find a unique dress that no one will be wearing at your next cocktail party.

Proenza Schouler

The SoHo flagship store of New York designer brand Proenza Schouler is a sleek, high-tech space that houses the full collection of womenswear, jewellery, shoes, bags and accessories.

CB2

The hipper offshoot of Crate & Barrel, CB2 offers well-priced contemporary homewares and furnishings to recreate that New York loft vibe at home.  You can even have a one-to-one consultation with the resident design expert every Thursday from 6-8pm.

McNally Jackson Books

It would be easy to lose an entire afternoon in this fantastic independent bookshop.  Not only does it have an excellent selection of books and a cute cafe, but you can self-publish your very own book right there and then.

Of course, even the most seasoned New York shopper needs a quick refuel, so here are my top places to indulge and really make a day of it…

Charlie Bird

Hot downtown restaurant Charlie Bird takes new spin on Italian-American comfort food with plenty of New York hip hop soul.  Tuck into tasty pasta, fresh oysters and seasonal vegetable dishes.

Crosby Street Hotel

Find a little corner of London in New York at Firmdale Hotels’ colourful SoHo hotel.  Start a day of shopping with delicious Eggs Benedict, refuel with a decadent afternoon tea or numb the pain of weary feet with cocktails and bar bites.

Balthazar

Keith McNally’s French-style bistro is a SoHo institution and still the place to see and be seen.  Cosy up on a red leather banquette and review your purchases over Steak Frites and a glass of Champagne.

Dominique Ansel Bakery

Home of the trend-setting Cronut, Cookie Shot and other sweet creations, Dominique Ansel Bakery is perfect for a SoHo sugar fix.  Be sure to get there early in the morning if you want to try the world’s most talked-about pastry.

Dean & DeLuca

I always find myself drawn to this gourmet food temple when I’m out and about in SoHo.  Its posh deli sandwiches and fresh salads are to die for and don’t forget to share (because they’re enormous) a box of sweet potato fries.

Parm

Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone’s Italian-New York diner in Nolita is the place to feed the soul with classics such as parmigiana subs, mozzarella-smothered meatballs, baked ziti, club sandwiches and patty melts.

Where are your favourite shops in NYC?  Are you more of a Downtown or Uptown shopper?

To get the best out of New York shopping, download the free Hayes and Jarvis Shop NYC app for the iPhone from the App Store.

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Cafes, Dublin, Shopping, Stores

Things To Do On A Weekend In Dublin

Last weekend, I took my mum on a luxury girls’ trip to Dublin, filled with sightseeing, shopping and plenty of eating.

It was our first time in the Irish capital and we were both absolutely charmed by the city’s culture, elegant architecture, friendliness and of course, the craic!

Our stylish base at The Westbury is well-located to see lots of the city, but there are still plenty of things on our list to bring us back.  Here are a few fun things to do on a weekend in Dublin…

Trinity College

Taking a stroll around Dublin’s impressive Trinity College is an absolute must.  Founded in 1592, Trinity College is one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland (in good company with my alma mater, University of Glasgow).

It’s home to the Book of Kells in the beautiful, wood panelled Library of Trinity College and notable alumni include literary greats such as Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker and more recently actor Dominic West.

Ideally, visit on a Sunday afternoon when the students are away studying (or nursing hangovers) and absorb the history and atmosphere of the classical buildings in the open quadrangles, Parliament Square and Fellows’ Square.

Drinks at The Temple Bar Pub

Temple Bar is a lively, historic part of town close to the River Liffey, known for its traditional Irish pubs.  On the weekend, it’s cobbled streets are filled with revellers and buskers, and the sounds of live folk music can be heard from the pubs.

Before visiting Dublin, my mum told me that she rather enjoys Guinness.  I wanted to put this to the test, so we popped into the famous Temple Bar Pub for an aperitif before heading back to Balfes for dinner.  True to her word, my mum ordered half a pint of Guinness and I played it safe with a suitably Irish Baileys on ice.

The Temple Bar was established in 1840 and named after Sir William Temple, the provost of Trinity College, whose house and gardens were built there in the early 17th century.  The pub has an extensive selection of rare and interesting whiskeys – you can even order a whiskey flight to taste three different kinds.

Shopping at Avoca

Avoca is a glorious lifestyle store with 11 outlets across Ireland only, so it’s a real hotspot for shopping.  Avoca is Ireland’s oldest handweaving mill, established in Avoca, Country Wicklow, back in 1723.  When the three Wynne sisters inherited the mill, they revolutionised weaving in Ireland by adding colour to their designs.

Today, the family-run business produces the most beautiful, striking throws and blankets alongside clothing, perfume, ceramics, glassware and gourmet food.  I discovered Avoca in Belfast and was delighted to find out that the 7-floor Suffolk Street Avoca store was just a short walk from our hotel.

At the top of the store is the Avoca Cafe with an all-day menu and vintage-chic interiors (it feels more like a restaurant than cafe) and there’s also the more informal food hall on the lower ground level where we had lunch.

The food hall has a deli, salad bar and counter full of baked goods as well as a separate rotisserie.  I enjoyed a tasty chicken Caesar wrap and my mum went for a spicy chickpea and quinoa cake with carrot salad and antipasti from the salad bar.  For dessert, we couldn’t resist sharing a slice of scrumptious lemon curd cake – one slice was more than enough for two.

To bring a bit of Avoca back home (along with as many scones as we could carry), we picked out a stunning wool throw each – so pretty and so cosy.

South Georgian Area

The Georgian area at the bottom of Grafton Street on the South bank was my favourite part of Dublin.  This elegant, affluent part of the city is characterised by its rows of townhouses with handsome doors and tall windows.

It’s home to Merrion Square, where artists sell their works on the railings on a Sunday and also the fantastic National Gallery of Ireland.  I fell in love with the ivy-covered Boston College on St. Stephen’s Square and enjoyed strolling around the tranquil St. Stephen’s Green with its duck pond and pretty gazebo.

Lunch at Fallon & Byrne

Dublin is a real foodie city and Fallon & Byrne is a great place to find the best Irish produce, delicious meals and fine wines.  The top floor features a popular restaurant while the food hall has a small cafe for lighter bites.

After a long walk in the cold, we were ready for a bowl of delicious carrot and coriander soup, served with thick slices of freshly-baked brown soda bread and butter.

You can also get meals, salads, cheese and cured meats from the deli to eat in at the cafe or do a spot of posh food shopping.

Have you visited Dublin?  Where are your favourites spots and things to do in the city?

All photos by Chérie City

Afternoon tea, London, Patisserie, Stores

Pierre Hermé Paris Fetish Infiniment Vanille

Pierre Hermé’s creativity never fails to amaze me, but his innovation goes far beyond presenting unexpected new flavour combinations.  Even classic tastes are elevated to divine new levels.

Last week, I visited the gorgeous new Pierre Hermé store on Covent Garden’s Monmouth Street for an exclusive preview of the new Fetish Infiniment Vanille collection.

Vanilla often undeservedly has the reputation for being safe and unadventurous, but Pierre Hermé sees vanilla as a ‘diva’.  When done right, vanilla can be indulgent, sensuous and very luxurious.  It is the second most expensive spice after saffron, of course.

Fetish Infiniment Vanille celebrates the fragrant spice with an extensive collection of gourmet vanilla treats.  The tasting started with examining the appearance, textures and aromas of three different vanilla pods from Madagascar, Tahiti and Mexico.  Vanilla from these three origins make up Pierre Hermé’s ideal vanilla flavour (his signature ‘house’ fragrance).

The most striking use of this specially composed vanilla is in the macarons.  The delicate yet robust flavour is intoxicating and the macaron is punctuated with tiny, crunchy vanilla seeds.  This is pure, velvety luxury and I’ve never tasted any vanilla macaron as exquisite as this.

I’m always a fan of Pierre Hermé’s delectable pound cake and the new Cake Infiniment Vanille is very satisfying with subtle flavours of almond and vanilla.  I liked the sweet vanilla ganache studded with crunchy pieces of almond and the decorative vanilla pod on the top.

We also tried a rich and mellow Bonbon Chocolat Infiniment Vanille with a velvety vanilla-infused ganache and a buttery little Sablé biscuit left a pleasant sea salt taste in the mouth.

The star of the collection for me is the green tea fragranced with vanilla.  I’ve tried black tea with vanilla before, but the green tea had a fresh, clean flavour and worked perfectly with the vanilla.

Also in the Fetish Infiniment Vanille collection is a glazed croissant filled with almond paste, Paris Brest, millefeuille, Rum Baba, tart and choux.  Pierre Hermé’s signature vanilla flavour is a sensation that all pastry lovers should try at least once.

The Pierre Hermé Fetish Infiniment Vanille collection is available now in-store and online until 19th April.  For more information, visit: www.pierreherme.com

London, Restaurants, Shopping, Stores

Macaron Making at L’Orchidée, Westfield Stratford

Whenever I go to Westfield Stratford, I can’t resist grabbing a bite at one of its tempting eateries.

I’ve worked my way through many of the shopping centre’s cafes and restaurants, but am always lured to the Great Eastern Market that offers a tasty selection of artisan bread, authentic Italian arancini, sushi and Indian sweets.

This is where you’ll find L’Orchidée, a petite patisserie and cafe with a colourful macaron counter.  At the helm is Chef Daniel Garcia, who has trained at Le Cordon Bleu and worked at The Langham London and Firmdale Hotels.

As part of Westfield Stratford’s Engage the Senses foodie events, Chef Daniel Garcia demonstrated in the cooking theatre how to make L’Orchidée’s signature macarons in front on a sweet-toothed crowd.  I’ve eaten plenty of macarons in my lifetime, but haven’t given much thought as to how they were made, so this was a learning experience for me.

Chef Daniel showed us how to lightly whip up meringue using a KitchenAid and fold it with finely ground almonds and sugar to create the delicate macaron shell.  He then filled a piping bag with the mixture and carefully piped it out in small discs on a baking sheet, ready to bake on a low heat in the oven.

L’Orchidée macarons are filled with a generous layer of buttercream (or sometimes a fruit jelly) and Chef Daniel demonstrated how to get a perfectly smooth and velvety buttercream.  He took a tray of macaron biscuits that were baked earlier and once again used a piping bag to add the filling and sandwich the two pieces together.

Of course, the moment everyone was waiting for was getting to sample some of Chef Daniel’s creations.  Needless to say they were devoured rather swiftly but I managed to try a few flavours – Kir Royale, blackcurrant and violet and my favourite milk chocolate and orange.

Before the macaron demonstration, I arrived early to start my day at Westfield Stratford with a delicious brunch at Balans.  The modern brasserie is a London institution with restaurants in Soho, Kensington, Westfield Shepherds Bush and even Miami.

I was tempted by the Maryland Crab Cakes and Eggs Benedict but finally settled on Banana Pancakes with toasted broken pecans and warm maple butter.  The giant pancakes were light and fluffy with a generous amount of sliced banana and the toasted pecans made them even more decadent.

I washed them down with a pot of loose-leaf Earl Grey tea and caught up on some reading – a perfect way to spend a lazy Saturday.  The staff were ever so friendly and efficient and I liked the relaxed atmosphere.  It’s definitely the kind of place to sit and collect your thoughts in peace before making a big purchase.

On a sugar high from the macarons, I headed to Toni & Guy Westfield Stratford for a spot of hair pampering.  My locks were in desperate need of a colour injection and I’d wanted to try the salon for quite some time.

Some of the stylists were over at Somerset House doing hair for the London Fashion Week shows, but luckily I was still able to squeeze in an appointment.  I was booked in for a colour regrowth and refresh with the lovely Pavlos Rafail Kyriakidis, an experienced Technician at Toni & Guy.

We decided on a warm, natural colour that would blend in well with the lengths and complement my skin tone.  While the dye was applied, we chatted about living in east London and Pavlos gave me tips on where to holiday in his native Greece (I can never turn off from thoughts of travel).

Assistant Philip Rothery (also a performing arts student) washed my hair and gave me a fantastic shiatsu head massage before finishing with a quick blow-dry.

I’m so pleased with the colour and enjoyed the laid-back, friendly salon experience.  It’s worth noting that it’s one of the most affordable Toni & Guy salons in London for colour, so I can see myself returning regularly for a root touch-up.

To finish off a splendid day, I did a spot of shopping in lifestyle store Tiger and had a look around Zara Home, The Kooples, Reiss and the new T.K Maxx store (hello Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu handbags).  I also couldn’t help but get excited that Shake Shack is on its way to Westfield Stratford, opening mid-2015 – as if I need an excuse to come back!

My day at Westfield Stratford was lots of fun and there are so many great foodie events to get involved in.  Keep an eye out for what’s going on!

Chérie City received a gift voucher towards a day out at Westfield Stratford

Images by Chérie City, Balans, Toni & Guy and Westfield Stratford 

Cafes, London, Shopping, Stores

Mast Brothers Chocolate Arrives in Shoreditch, London

Brooklyn-based chocolate makers Mast Brothers is finally here in Shoreditch and what better time to launch than on Valentine’s Day?

Brothers Rick and Michael Mast teased us with a chocolate pop-up at the nearby Ace Hotel and now London has the full experience at their sleek, minimal chocolate factory on Redchurch Street.

I made a pilgrimage to Mast Brothers London on its second day of trading after strolling around Spitalfields and Brick Lane to see what else is new (its neighbour T2 Tea is also not to be missed).

The factory window resembles an art gallery installation with ‘Mast Brothers is making chocolate here’ lit up in neon above stacked sacks of cocoa beans.  As you walk in, you notice the rich, malty aroma of hand-made chocolate that subtly fills the air.

Mast Brothers is London’s first bean-to-bar chocolate maker and you can watch the magic happen in the open factory behind a floor to ceiling window.

The chocolate brand is also a pioneer in chocolate drinks, which are offered at the cool chocolate bar, or to take away.  Instead of a flat white, try a signature Brewed Chocolate, using house-roasted cocoa beans and served either hot or cold.

There’s also a decadent Hot Chocolate or non-alcoholic Chocolate Beer to try, plus sourdough with chocolate spread if you’re feeling peckish.

The full range of Mast Brothers chocolate bars are neatly presented, as though they were accessories in a designer boutique.  The display is so perfect that I found myself instinctively reaching to rearrange the bars after they’d been ruffled!

Not only is the packaging beautiful, but reading the labels is like taking a tour of the world with cacao from some exotic destinations.  The Origin Collection includes Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, Dominican Republic, Peru, Belize or the original Brooklyn Blend.

Other interesting bars are Stumptown Coffee, sheep’s milk, vanilla and smoke, cacao nib, sea salt and almond.  The samples Belize and vanilla and smoke were fantastic, but it was a bar of Maple Chocolate that we bought to enjoy at home.

The 70% cacao dark chocolate has real depth of flavour with fruity tartness and a pleasantly grainy texture from the maple sugar.  It’s pure indulgence and definitely a treat to be savoured – we made ours last for three nights.

£8 is the most I’ve ever spent on a bar of chocolate, but the quality, design and artistry makes it a cut above the rest.  I’m sure I’ll work my way through the other bars gradually, but top of my Mast Brothers list is a cup of hot chocolate at the bar.

For more information, visit: www.mastbrothers.com

All photos by Cherie City 

Accessories, Designers, Fashion, Shopping, Stores

Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts

Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse for a bit of a splurge, whether it’s a gift for your significant other or simply a treat for yourself.

While I like to spend the most romantic day of the year getting slushy over a decadent meal and movie at home, I’m a sucker for a spot of Valentine’s kitsch with as many red hearts as possible.  If you’re still looking out for ideas, here are some luxurious gifts to share the love…


Olivia Von Halle Alba Mizuki printed silk-satin pyjama set, £295, Net-a-Porter
Charlotte Tilbury limited edition K.I.S.S.I.N.G lip trio, £29, Harvey Nichols
Sophie Hulme mini envelope cross-body bag, £375, Matches Fashion
Kate Spade skinny bow bangle, £65, Selfridges
Pierre Hermé bonbons chocolat coeur, €30, Pierre Hermé
House of Hackney Palmeral set of three A5 flexi notebooks, £14, House of Hackney
Bella Freud Loving candle, £38, Liberty

Christmas, Shopping, Stores

Christmas Gift Guide 2014: Foodie

What better time to indulge the foodie in your life than with some tasty treats at Christmas?

Spread the festive cheer with a posh cheese hamper, decadent yule log or a cheeky bottle of Sauternes…

Verden Cheese Hamper, £40, Verden
Pierre Hermé Bûche Infiniment Mandarine, €48, Pierre Hermé
Chateau Haut-Mayne Sauternes 2008, £22.90, Amathus
Choi Time Thousand Year Red Giant Flowering Tea Bulbs, £19.95, Harvey Nichols
Carluccio’s Festa Dei Limoni, £29,95, Carluccio’s
Pistachio Kitchenaid Artisan Stand Mixer, £379, Lakeland

Christmas, Shopping, Stores

Christmas Gift Guide 2014: Luxury

Christmas has a funny habit of making you splurge on decadent things.  If they’re too gorgeous to resist, or can be justified as ‘useful’, then why not?  Here are some ideas for gifts that are sure to impress…

 

Mulberry Blossom Tote in Hibiscus Calf Nappa, £495, Mulberry
Valentino: At The Emperor’s Table by André Leon Talley, €115 Assouline
Alexander & James Japanese Cocktail Set, £180, Alexander & James
Monica Vinader Baja Mini Bracelet, £495, Monica Vinader
Hermès Minuit au Faubourg Vintage Silk Twill Scarf, £235, Hermès
Shinola Detroit The Women’s Bixby Bicycle, £1,675, Shinola Detroit
Penelope Chilvers Dandy Slipper Velvet, £245, Penelope Chilvers
Heal’s Grey Herringbone Merino & Cashmere Throw, £128, Heal’s

 

Afternoon tea, London, Stores

Pierre Hermé Paris Fetish Infiniment Chocolat

Pierre Hermé is renowned for his game-changing marriage of flavours, however at the heart of his mastery is pure, unadulterated chocolate.

The new Fetish Infiniment Chocolat limited edition collection is a celebration of exquisite chocolate made with the finest cocoa from far-flung plantations around the world.

I visited the Lowndes Street boutique last week for a special preview tasting and was treated to highlights from the collection, accompanied by glasses of rosé Champagne.

Our first taste of the collection were Bonbons Chocolat, each with their own distinctive flavours and notes.  The stand-out Bonbon Chocolat Ampa is an intense ganache of pure origin Plantation Millot chocolate from Madagascar with a punchy bitterness and exotic notes of passion fruit and caramelised pineapple.

My favourite is the playfully-named Bonbon Chocolat Choc Chocolat (try asking for that over the counter) – a silky ganache studded with nougatine and cocoa nibs.

Other seductive chocolates in the collection are the Brazilian Bonbon Chocolat Paneiras, the crunchy Nougatine Infiniment Chocolat and the slim and elegant Galet Intense.

Of course there are also new chocolate macarons, including the seductive Venezuelan Macaron Infiniment Chocolat Chuao with a hint of blond tobacco and the Macaron Infiniment Chocolat Pérou, which is well-rounded and easy on the palate.

Another highlight is Pierre Hermé’s latest discovery – the intense Macaron Infiniment Chocolat Paineiras using pure origin chocolate with notes of citrus, red berry and spice.

As a life-long lover of cake, I was wowed by the the fabulously rich, moist, vanilla-scented Cake Infiniment Chocolat with pieces of dark chocolate and fleur de sel, enrobed in glossy dark chocolate.

It would make a fabulous addition to a chocolate afternoon tea, alongside the perfectly buttery, indulgent Sablés Infiniment Chocolat and a cup of thick, rich Chocolat Chaud.

The London boutiques offer an edited selection of the range, but if you’re in Paris, be sure to indulge in an exquisite Infiniment Chocolat Saint-Honoré, rum baba, millefeuille, cheesecake, brioche, éclair or ice cream.

As always, Pierre Hermé likes to keep us on our toes and is constantly innovating, so head down to Lowndes Street to pick up some treats from the collection before 8th December.

Also, look out for a brand new Pierre Hermé boutique opening next month in Covent Garden’s stylish Seven Dials neighbourhood.

For more information and to buy online, visit: www.pierreherme.com

Photos by Pierre Hermé Paris 

Fashion, London, London Fashion Week, Shopping, Stores

Jimmy Choo Townhouse London

During London Fashion Week, I was treated to a sneak peek of the very first Jimmy Choo Townhouse on Mayfair’s New Bond Street ahead of its launch.

Designed by David Collins Studio, the glamorous three-floor boutique houses the whole world of Jimmy Choo.  Inspired by an haute couture atelier, the townhouse comprises a plush VIP room, Champagne Bar, Made to Order service, personal shopping and a room dedicated to the new CHOO.08° collection.

It’s a sleek wonderland of covetable heels, beautifully-crafted handbags and colourful small leather goods.  There’s also a fab fragrance and sunglasses station on the ground floor, if you’re after a small pay-day treat.

The chic interiors combine soft hues with shimmering textures in a luxurious palette of satin gold, rosa egeo pink marble and mink velvets.

The elegant marble staircase, glass chandeliers and oyster stone and mother of pearl chevron floor complete the look.  It’s impossible to leave without wanting to move in.

At the event, we were spoiled with glossy manicures courtesy of NARS and dainty bites from the new Jimmy Choo Prêt-à-Portea, exclusively served in the Caramel Room at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge.  How adorable is the red Jimmy Choo victoria sponge bag!

In celebration of the new townhouse and the brand’s London roots, Jimmy Choo has created a limited edition of its signature Candy bag, printed with a quintessentially British red postbox.

Creative Director Sandra Choi said: “If anything represents the strength of English heritage the red telephone box does – despite being almost redundant in today’s technology driven world, it has become a much loved landmark and it reminds me of our London home whenever I see it”.

Here are some of the gorgeous Autumn/Winter delights to discover at the Jimmy Choo Townhouse (I have my eye on a gold envelope clutch)…

For more information, visit: www.jimmychoo.com

Photos by Chérie City & Jimmy Choo