I love books. Books are my passion. I buy more than I can read and I still have so many yet to be opened from my days as a bookseller, as I worked my way through uni. and shortly after.

So you can imagine my delight when I found myself organising a bloggers event that was to start at Taschen on Duke of York Square.

After some bubbles and a catch-up with a great crowd that included Angie, Suze, Fiona, Emma, Lauren, Aftab, Matilda and Tania, the manager of Taschen (Nolan Browne) led us around the store to explain the background of Taschen’s unique publishing ethos and the wide array of titles in the store.

And as I listened to Nolan telling us about Benedikt Taschen’s agenda to create a greater accessibility to the wonders of art in publishing, I started to think back to my initial purchases as I built my book collection. It was Taschen that published the first Magritte book I bought and I remember picking up this two-book Van Gogh publication (below) from a store in Besançon where I studied for my third year at uni. It was also Taschen that published the first interiors book I bought. And to this day I’m still picking up titles I feel I need in my collection. Thing is, whilst Taschen provided an entry point into the world of art and interiors for me they also publish some of the most exclusive books you can get your hands on – and I want them all!

Taschen Books

Nolan talked us through Taschen’s limited editions …

David Bowie at Taschen, Duke of York Square

… and Sumo books that are sometimes accompanied by limited edition prints. I meant to take a photo of the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) book which is something I would love at home. If you’re a Muhammed Ali fan, I urge you to visit the downstairs of Taschen’s store to discover a book that was printed with such care, you’d find the same craftsmanship at the Vatican.

Taschen, Duke of York Square, London

The start of the evening satisfied the book-nerd in me and it also gave me ideas for future gifts. There’s a gorgeous publication on tree houses which is perfect for someone I know who loves architecture and of course tree houses. 🙂

After a tour of Taschen, we all popped over to Manicomio. We could have hopped, it’s so close. And our night here started with a gorgeous vodka-based cocktail called Jagged Wood; a nod to Exhibitionism at Saatchi Gallery which is a must-visit exhibition whether you love The Rolling Stones or not. It’s very impressive.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

And as we waited for our starters to arrive, we were pleasantly surprised by the shots of truffle soup that were served to us. I love truffles and I savoured the thick texture of this soup. It was a great preamble to our meal.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

For starter I had the yellow fin tuna which was gorgeous too.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

And for main I ordered the chicken tagliata with asparagus, artichoke and onions which I had with a side of …

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

… rosemary potatoes.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

Dessert was the buttermilk panna cotta with rhubarb, which I absolutely loved.

Manicomio, Duke of York Square

As usual Manicomio didn’t disappoint and it was great to finally experience this place in the evening. I’ve always been drawn to Manicomio for lunch or a glass of wine in the afternoon because I love their terrace. So it was a treat to discover the nighttime buzz inside the restaurant.

There is so much to look forward to over spring/summer on Duke of York Square, which I’ll be sure to cover on here. But to give you the heads up, here are some dates for your diary …

  • Chelsea in Bloom – 23rd to 28th May
  •  Strawberries & Screen for the Wimbledon semi-finals and finals  – 8th to 10th July
  • HRH The Queen’s 90th Birthday & Commonwealth Market, which will include a street party style occasion to mimic the Queen’s own celebrations at the Mall  – 12th June
  • The BFG Dream Jar Trail’s arrival into Chelsea, which will excite any Roald Dahl fan – 8th July to 31st August

Maybe I’ll see you around?

Chelsea Girl

The King’s Road is a very long road and it stretches beyond World’s End until it becomes New King’s Road and leads us to Eel Brook Common, which I love. In and around this leafy area a new pizzeria has opened. It’s called Santa Maria and some folks may already know about it from its original Ealing restaurant.

Santa Maria prides itself on its traditional Neapolitan pizzas that are cooked in their wood fired oven …

Santa Maria Pizzeria Chelsea

… and it is already proving popular amongst the locals – not least because of its eye-catching interior that seems very intriguing when you’re walking past.

Santa Maria Pizzeria Chelsea

I popped in for an early supper with the OH and Little Man after a visit to the playground on Eel Brook Common.

And for me, the evening started with a glass of Prosecco while …

Santa Maria Pizzeria Chelsea

… the OH poured himself a beer.

Santa Maria Pizzeria Chelsea

Some of you may already know that I gave up wheat at the start of the year and because Santa Maria doesn’t serve gluten-free pizzas I thought I’d test the pizzas on two huge pizza fans when I was invited in to review.

The OH had the San Giuseppe with smoked mozzarella, rare breed Yorkshire sausage, friarielli (wild broccoli), chilli flakes and parmesan.

Santa Maria Pizzeria Chelsea

And Little Man ordered his favourite: margarita pizza with mushrooms.

Santa Maria Pizzeria Chelsea

Both pizzas were devoured. The OH was particularly impressed with his and Little Man took home what he couldn’t finish. The toppings looked amazing and the thin base of each pizza looked very tempting.

I ordered a few side dishes to make up my main. They included meatballs with ricotta cheese …

Santa Maria Pizzeria Chelsea

… caponata, which arrives with bread as a starter.

Santa Maria Pizzeria Chelsea

And I also enjoyed a mixed salad to accompany my very tasty dishes.

Santa Maria Pizzeria Chelsea

For dessert, the OH ordered a tiramisu …

Santa Maria Pizzeria Chelsea

… Little Man enjoyed (another) ice cream this weekend and …

Santa Maria Pizzeria Chelsea

… I had a lemon sorbet floating in lemoncello.

Santa Maria Pizzeria Chelsea

Overall, this was a very satisfying visit. The staff were all very friendly, the interior made the restaurant somewhere you wanted to be and the food was all very good. Definitely a great spot!

Santa Maria Pizzeria, 92-94 Waterford Road, Chelsea, SW6 2HA

I feel the need to blog about my regular pizza hangout; Rossopomodoro on Fulham Road. The reason being Little Man’s second birthday which he had in the upstairs part of the restaurant last month. As a result I’ve gone from being a fan of this place to being a HUGE fan, especially of the staff.

Rossopomodoro is generally kid-friendly so it’s a great place to go for lunch or an early supper. Alternatively, later in the evening, it’s a good spot to hang out with friends too.

Rossopomodoro Chelsea on Fulham Road

When we popped in over the weekend, I started our early supper with an Aperol Spritz. When folks say they haven’t tried this cocktail, I describe it as a savoury Pimm’s. If you love Dirty Martinis, I think you might like it. Think olives.

Rossopomodoro Chelsea on Fulham Road

And when I chose Little Man’s birthday venue, I wanted the focus to be on good food as well as a fun space. There are no bouncy castles or soft play areas upstairs but there is a huge room with a great sound system and a screen to play a film in the background. We had Thomas The Tank Engine on, which went down a treat. The kids didn’t really stop to watch (thankfully) but it was good for them to see Thomas chugging away when they looked round.Rossopomodoro Chelsea on Fulham Road

As for the food, I love the pizzas here. All the kids loved the pizzas here, apparently so did the fussy ones, which made Little Man’s birthday a huge success.Rossopomodoro Chelsea on Fulham Road

This was the pizza (below) that I had on Sunday. It was the Salsiccia Friarelli with pork sausage, friarielli, smoked mozzarella and basil, which I really enjoyed.
Rossopomodoro Chelsea on Fulham Road

As well as kids’ parties upstairs, the space also has other events including Rosso Cinema and live football in Italian.Rossopomodoro Chelsea on Fulham Road

Unfortunately I don’t have any photos from the birthday party to post. But if you are looking for an event space, this place is definitely worth considering.

As for the rest of the time, maybe I’ll see you in around. As I’ve said, I love it in here.
Chelsea Girl

I must be one of the last foodies to try Polpo. Talk about being late to the party. I’ve walked past Polpo’s original Soho restaurant so many times, meaning to pop in, but just never got round to doing so.

Now, in a way, I’m glad I waited because it feels like the biggest and best Polpo has arrived in Chelsea. There is still the cosy intimate feeling that is familiar with the Polpo brand, with Chelsea’s inside space. But what differentiates this restaurant from the others is the wide outdoor terrace.

I absolutely love the al fresco vibe on Duke of York Square. It’s wonderfully buzzy in the evenings and during the day you feel like hours could drift by and it wouldn’t matter. So it’s great to see the restaurant scene here being expanded. Polpo Duke of York Square King's Road Chelsea

As for the menu, Polpo serves up Venetian small plates which are very satisfying indeed. Polpo means  bàcaro, which is a Venetian word used “to describe a humble restaurant serving simple food and good, young local wines”. And for simple food in a humble environment, lunch was more than pretty good.
Polpo Duke of York Square King's Road Chelsea

The OH and I shared the octopus & fennel carpaccio … Polpo Duke of York Square King's Road Chelsea

Salt cod crocchette … Polpo Duke of York Square King's Road Chelsea

Fritto misto … (which was easily the best I’ve ever had in London). Polpo Duke of York Square King's Road Chelsea

I had a sneaky lunchtime bellini which I enjoyed whilst thinking I really need to come back for a sundowner. Their cocktail list looks very good. Polpo Duke of York Square King's Road Chelsea

We also enjoyed the lamb & new season wild garlic meatballs … Polpo Duke of York Square King's Road Chelsea

… with some griddled herbed polenta. Recently I’ve started warming to the idea of polenta and I think this dish has won me over as a pasta/rice/potato substitute. Polpo Duke of York Square King's Road Chelsea

For dessert, OH had the Nutella pizzetta … (yum, yum)Polpo Duke of York Square King's Road Chelsea

… and I had the flourless lemon & almond cake, which was very good but I felt I should have ordered a coffee with it.
Polpo Duke of York Square King's Road ChelseaAll in all, Polpo is a winner. And I can imagine on a balmy summer’s day, sitting outside on the terrace, it could almost feel like being back in Italy. Perhaps all you’ll need is the sound of church bells to give you that added al fresco piazza feel.

Chelsea Girl

Last week I was invited to try the latest menu at Stelle di Stelle in Harrods. The concept behind this wondrous pop-up involves five of the best restaurants in Italy which take up residency at Harrods for a month each from September 2014 until January 2015. The restaurants have 13 Michelin stars between them and I was lucky enough to be able to try Giorgio Pinchiorri and Annie Féolde’s menu from Enoteca Pinchiorri which has 3 Michelin stars.

So what did Julie and I have for our delicious catch up?

We started with some beautiful cheese and ham, paired with a glass of Ferrari Maximum Brut Trento Doc. Light and tasty, this was a perfect start to the meal.

stelle di stelle at harrods

The next course included chestnut mousse with pancetta, pine nuts and rosemary along with a glass of Ferrari Maximum Brut Trento Doc. This must have been the lightest mousse I have ever tasted. Its airy texture matched the deep flavours of the other ingredients. Pure sensation for my tastebuds. Even the olive oil danced around my mouth as I savoured each spoonful.

Stelli di Stelli at Harrods

Another fantastic dish followed. Octopus cooked in olive oil with pumpkin cream, coffee pearls and watercress sprouts which was paired with a glass  Rosso di Montalcino Doc San Polo 2012.

The coffee pearls were an elegant touch to this sumptuous dish. Apparently the octopus had been cooked three ways by the time it had reached the table and again, each mouthful arrived with a depth of flavour and texture that could only be the result of careful preparation.

We were both very much enjoying our meal.

Stelle di Stelle at Harrods

Poached egg with Alba white truffle and Grana Padano cheese fondue was next on the list, with a glass of Giulio Ferrari Trento Doc 2002 to go with it.

Stelle di Stelle at Harrods

I don’t think I have a favourite dish on this menu as they were all sublime. But if I had to pick, this would come close because poached egg, white truffle and cheese fondue prepared so delicately. I really tried to take my time with this one …
Stelle di Stelle at Harrods

The next course – and at this stage with three more courses to go – I didn’t feel overfed but instead excited to experience the next adventure. The next course involved fusilli al ferretto with artichokes, scampi and liquorice powder, paired with a glass of not wine but Birra Moretti la Rossa.

Stelle di Stelle at Harrods

To translate, a delicious glass of beer. I’m not a real beer drinker and would never think to pair my pasta with a glass but this totally worked. There was so much flavour in this glass of beer as there was in each glass of wine we had tried so far. There were layers and depth, just as there were with each dish too.Stelle di Stelle at Harrods

The penultimate course included a rack of lamb topped with garlic and thyme, accompanied by polenta and Cavolo Nero and paired with a glass of Poggio Al Tesoro Mediterra Igt Toscana 2011.

Admittedly I have never been a fan of polenta and I really don’t think I would ever order it in a restaurant. But by now I completely trusted the menu and I knew if there was a time when I would enjoy it, it would be now. And I was right.

The lamb was also something to savour, cooked perfectly and full of flavour.

Stelle di Stelle at Harrods

Finally the dessert came along with bread, chocolate, oil and salt and a glass of Giovanni Allegrini Recioto Della Valpolicella Classico Doc 2010.

This dish is apparently based on a popular children’s favourite in Italy but obviously this more refined and sophisticated version arrived with a few surprises such as the soft chocolate pouring out of the chocolate casing as well as the taste of the olive oil upon the crispy bread. This isn’t your nuttella sandwich idea of a dessert. It’s something more delicate and if you especially enjoy sea salt chocolate, you will enjoy this.

Stelle di Stelle at Harrods

Julie and I were amongst the last to leave Stelle di Stelle which you can find on the lower ground floor of Harrods, next to the fine wine section. So I had the opportunity to snap this photo to give you an idea of the beautiful design of the restaurant.

Stelle di Stelle at Harrods

The whole evening was a real delight and whilst we dined in Knightsbridge, I really did feel like I had embarked on a culinary adventure. Always my favourite kind of meal.

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