(From my kitchen this month)
I am cooking a lot of seafood: scallop, prawn, crab etc (there is a lot of excellent shellfish around due to the issues the fishermen are having with trade), trying to make my recipes lighter as we head into spring. The dishes below are all my own original recipes – I am always cooking food which is very fresh, flavourful, and vibrant. I like to cook plates that are easy to share and easy to enjoy over conversation with a glass of wine.
Scottish King Scallops with nduja and green salsa. Confit garlic. Salad of blood orange, bresaola, black olive and feta. Baked Portobello Mushroom with mozzarella and nduja. Crab Cakes with dill creme fraiche and oscietra caviar. Black Tiger Prawn, chive, aioli. Conference pear, roquefort and endive salad with candied walnuts. Red Massaman tiger prawn curry with wild rice. Prawn Baggie with potatoes, spring onion, pink peppercorn, and fennel pesto. Burrata and tomato Tacos.
Okay so I’ve never been a fan of Aston Martin. There’s something about the brand… I feel in more recent years they’ve always stopped one detail short of creating a truly iconic “it” roadcar. An “it” car doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to have that thing people can’t resist. Part of the joy of driving a beautiful car is (whether you’d like to admit it or not) knowing that everyone else wants your car. The resale on most Astons are so terrible that you can’t help but be reminded that actually, most people don’t want your car (sorry!). If you hadn’t guessed, yes, my least favourite ex boyfriend drove an Aston and I’ve detested the car ever since.
Sometimes I wonder if my sense of humor comes across well in writing or not.
I’ve been to many car shows and dined outside many a nice restaurant and strutted through the driveway of many a nice hotel and you just never see someone stopping to take a photo of an Aston. Then – admittedly late to the party – I recently decided to watch every James Bond film from the beginning. The magic of this car became apparent. This car isn’t about getting your balls out for everyone to have a look at – it’s a beauty but it’s also a classy car.
All cars are comparable to women. This car is a classy understated woman with a pretty face who only wears silk, has no arse and never eats carbs. If you’re a man of ego, forget it. Get the one with the big fat, er, spoiler at the back and a massive pair of, er, headlights at the front. Pick a Lamborghini or something. The Lambo is a true slut of a car – and in this there are limitations. But if you are looking for something elegant, the Aston – The Aston is the one!
Rolls Royce Dawn Black Badge
There are very few things worth squandering your children’s inheritance on. Obviously, I’m one, and the other is this car. This is the one you turn up to dinner in. There’s only 2 things that belong in the passenger seat – nothing at all, or a hot woman in 6 inch heels and sunglasses (hi there!). It was a toss up between this and the Bentley GT, but the rolls wins because on one of those long beautiful roads (preferably in France)…
Actually having imagined the scenario I have changed my mind. Bentley Continental GT is is. Back to that long road in France (if they let us in after Brexit). So there’s not much room for luggage once you’ve crammed 2 cases of champagne in the back – nevermind, I’ll save on wardrobe space by not wearing any underwear. Handles a corner better than Theirry Henry and looks 10x as good. I’m thinking black with a black interior but “all black” is so 2005 so keep the chrome detail, and perhaps a little colour – I’m noticing many cars are offering the “Hermes” orange interior these days… is it too daring? Of course not – you’re in a Bentley, duh!
Land Rover (Mid 70’s)
So you’ve probably ascertained by now, that yes I am predictable in some ways – who DOESN’T like chocolate, beach holidays, and morning sex (preferably all on the same day)? But in other ways, I do like to do my own thing and go my own way. I don’t want to have the same boring things everyone else has. The Land Rover… you can’t argue that it’s a great car but it’s a bit, dare I say, “John Lewis” these days. The quality is undeniable but unless you’ve really specced the thing up then the Land Rover is no longer the panty-dropper it used to be. However, I absolutely LOVE the old ones. I love a 70’s silhouette in a car- everything from the Capri, to the old Ferraris to that car from Knight Rider. Anyway this for me is a stunning car and I’ve been to a few car shows where I’ve seen some which are immaculately restored. I’ve not seen the restored ones, or any 70’s one at all anywhere else – you just don’t see these around. Which makes me want one even more! Even that mustard colour with the tan interior (very of the time) appeals to me. Me, you, suitcases in the back and and leisurely drive to the New Forest for a weekend romp an Limewood Hotel (my current favourite country hotel). Vroom vroom!
Mercedes SL (mid 70’s)
Okay so you’re wondering why if I could pick ANY vintage Mercedes, why I wouldn’t go for the Gullwing, or the Pagoda. I don’t really have an answer other than that despite knowing it’s perhaps the least celebrated of the three (some might say the least pretty too)… I just adore it. I’ve been in a fair few and I quite like that it’s (and I mean this with fondness and respect) a really good woman’s car. It’s not too big, it’s racy, timeless… that mahogany dashboard and that elegant, slim steering wheel. I remember enjoying this car with a friend who has a large collection of mostly American classic cars but also 2 of these Mercedes. We were driving just past Marble Arch on a sunny day with the roof down and at the traffic light pulled up a couple of young guys in the sort of silly supercar you have to be under 25 to like. “Wow man!” They said to Mr Driver “Wow man what car is that, that car is so cool!”. I remember him turning to me as we pulled away and saying “You see Billie – some people have plenty money but no imagination”. I thought about this a afterwards. That being able to afford nicer things should afford you so many more options, yet most people still only consider the same small pool of options – the things that everyone else has because if given the choice most people would rather be recognised than interesting.
The final car is a real toss up between two lifestyles – do we go for something practical – the car you can fit 3 suitcases and 2 kids in – the Bentayga, the RR Cullinan? I’ve been in both and that Cullinan is like driving down the street in an Emirates 1st class cabin, with the the most graceful drive imaginable – you could literally run someone over and not realise, so deliciously responsive is the suspension – and given the price of the thing you can likely afford the subsequent lawsuit. It’s also the only car where if you did run someone over they’d probably use their last breath to thank you for the experience.
Or are we going for a truly flashy ostentatious super car – the Lambo, Bugatti, or Maserati – perhaps in lime green or wrapped in gold?
Well… these are dream cars after all.
Sexy, slender, and curvy with the best looking backside on any given street – but that’s enough about me, my final option is the Lamborghini Venemo. I know, I know you’re thinking Billie. Really?! The answer is yes! Like I said, cars are like women, variety is the spice of life. You don’t want a Lambo all the time. No one is going to funeral in a Lamborghini Venemo (although, I would!). But I believe in embracing your inner child and this car is an exercise of what I like to call “boyerism”. A Boyeur is one who embraces their inner boy. It’s okay to leave some space between the Art galleries and The Economist App for a silly car, a little rock and roll. Mine would be the typical yellow and I’d have a silly number plate too: “B1LL3” or something.
My Never Ever car:
My worst car experience. Actually… my worst car experience was when I was learning to drive in the countryside and I swerved to avoid a pigeon and drove the car into a ditch. I’d worn heels (because in a battle between glamour and intelligence, glamour won) and so had to crawl on my hands and knees out of the car and up the side of horse-manure coated ditch in Louboutins. I screamed the whole time and the people in this little village (Swaton, in Lincolnshire – I guess not much happens there) thought it was hilarious.
But I digress. The worst car in circulation is without a doubt the Jaguar Mk2.
It’s a long story but at my first ever car auction I ended up being in the passenger seat of an old one of these driving back. This particular car was rare: all original, one owner, all the paperwork and something like 3000 miles (which to a car collector is a bit like having an orgasm at precisely the same time your team wins the FA cup).
It was the worst journey of my life (and that’s saying something because I’ve been one of 7 tipsy girls squeezed onto the back of a half-broken tuktuk in Thailand, and I’ve also been in a hot air balloon with a friend who got their balloon licence by cheating on the test). Recounting this experience is so stressful I’ve poured myself a glass of champagne to cope with my emotions. This car had: No power steering. Meaning… turning the wheel is like trying to turn a wheel that’s buried in half dried cement. Oh and no seatbelts! Because nothing gets a woman wet like a near-death experience on the M25! Apparently on these historical cars it is perfectly legal not to have them. Even on the motorway! No side/wing mirrors – who needs to see what’s going on behind them anyway! A gear stick so stiff you needed 2 hands to move it, and the front seat is a bench so as you turned corners (each corner is like risking your life as you’re acutely aware that you can’t see what’s behind you – and FYI you never get used to how terrifying this is), if you’re medium or light weight – given the total lack of seat belt and the bench seat – you find yourself sliding horizontally across the seat into the lap of the driver! Intermittently the breaks would just stop working – meaning if you were driving towards traffic your options were to slow down to a snails pace (because also if it stopped completely you had no idea if it would start again(!)) Or alternatively turn onto a side road and drive round the block – over and over. Absurd!
Opening the door for the first time, my nostrils were rudely violated by the acrid whiff of dead people (or as car enthusiasts call it, “Lovely old car smell”). To clarify: yes, I do usually quite enjoy an orifice or two being rudely violated but this was, unfortunately, a far cry from being bent over a desk in the Four Seasons. The smell alone should have served as a big enough hint that this thing is more or less a coffin on wheels, but alas, I ignored the obvious signs and allowed myself to be driven to a fate worse than death in a car that somehow managed to assault every single one of my senses.
This vehicle is a Boris Johnson: a bumbling idiot of a car; it’s obvious and apparent flaws only made more frustrating by the fact that everyone seems to love it anyway. “What a lovely car” people remark in the streets, seemingly not noticing that you’re hanging onto the window for dear life.
It’s one thing to feel that a car is unsafe, it’s quite another to feel like the car itself is committed to taking your life (and quickly at that). To this day I’m convinced this was a sophisticated attempt to kill me, but luckily for you, dear reader, I live to fight another day! 😂
Phew – off for another remedial champagne – see you soon!
There comes a time when a woman’s tastes start to adjust themselves upwards, and as you probably know, if there’s something I’m simply never willing to compromise on, its the quality of what I put in my mouth (flirtatious wink here).
You may remember a while back I discovered the joy of Zacappa rum. For many years I thought I hated rum – annoyingly, or perhaps understandably, I realised I don’t hate rum at all – I just hate cheap rum. With most things I find I tend to enjoy what is objectively the best quality, and I always try to seek out quality things and learn about the processes involved in making them.
Whiskey is a slightly different story. I haven’t really enjoyed any at all, and I’ve been lucky enough to try some exceptional ones. I still didn’t like it. I branded it a “mans” drink, and went running back to my trusted favourites (negroni or champagne cocktail) instead. Recently though, my tastes have started to adjust to appreciate whiskies, and a few friends have gifted me bottles for my bar. The three bottles I have so far are, all of which have been gifts by those wishing to drive me to alcoholism, er, I mean improve my bar.
1. Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select.
2. Whistle Pig (10 Year) Rye.
3. Redbreast Single Pot Still (12 Year).
It seems a great shame I have more American whiskeys than anything else so I would appreciate something strong, smooth, and Scottish (whiskey, I mean) to add to my collection.
I think everyone should have a drinks trolley. I found mine at an antiques shop – it’s mid century so barely an antique, and despite me not being a heavy drinker it’s been a real pleasure to fill it up with different spirits and mixers (I’m in love with maraschino cherries – which I sometimes add to a vodka and tonic for a delicious girly cocktail). I have a couple of decanters now, as well as some beautiful crystal glasses, which somehow add to the pleasure of drinking – especially when trying something special.
Here’s to a whiskey kiss or two,
I am sat here, at 6:30pm, with the central heating on, watching The Crown in my favourite silk slip. Are you watching it? This is the type of show I was sure I would hate, but having exhausted every war film, and every serial killer documentary known to man, and everything Anthony Bourdain ever recorded (these being my preferred three things to watch), I thought why not throw myself into something on the “popular” list. I don’t usually enjoy drama. In fact, even when reading I find fiction a waste of time. I think has something to do with my wider personality. I’m a realist, living a fantasy, not a fantasist. I accept the imperfections of life, without trying to pretend they aren’t there. It’s something I really appreciate in others too. If I’m getting ready for dinner and I ask you “do you like this dress?” and you don’t, I respect you saying “No”. So anyway, despite my preference for the real, here I am watching this fictitious show about the Royal family, and I’m enjoying it – well, kind of enjoying it, I’m writing this at the same time after all.
All change this week – London’s lockdown is finally over (sort of). According to Boris, you can only go out for a drink if you’re having a “substantial meal first”. Irritating but I’ve thought of a clever way to work around this. Earlier, I called Le Gavroche to ask if cock counts as a “substantial meal”, but they refused to answer, so I guess we are just going to have to find out (any takers?)! I did a small photoshoot on New Bond Street today – one of my favourite places for shopping and looking at cars before a quick walk (strut) to Cecconis for some calamari and the second best Bellini in London (after Dukes). All of a sudden, the Christmas Spirit just took me over – I am feeling so positive and Christmassy! I think it was all the boutiques with their sparkly tasteful Christmas decorations, the smiling gentlemen in winter overcoats providing enthusiastic encouragement as I posed for my shoot – my photographer always laughs at this because she can’t comprehend that when men try to approach me or check me out in public I feel so embarrassed and shy! She keeps saying, “how can YOU be shy!?”. Well, these things definitely did contribute to my good mood, or perhaps it was just the knowledge that in 24 hours, I could finally enjoy a drink and a substantial ****.
These last few weeks have been… Not as great as the first lockdown. I’ve been running, but it’s cold and I’m a wimp. I did do 2 runs in the rain, which I found strangely thrilling, but long distance running isn’t really my thing – Paula Radcliffe I am not (luckily for you). Can’t wait to get back to training and weights, I’ve even bought a pair of impossibly tight mini leopard print gym shorts to celebrate (lucky for gym). I haven’t read as much as I wanted to, but having been a subscriber for some time, I downloaded The Economist app and it’s very good. I wake up each morning, roll over in bed, and as you’re not there, open the app and read the Morning Briefing, and listen to a podcast (most of them have a similar conclusion: for one reason or another, we’re doomed) before starting my day.
My plans for a few days winter sun have been postponed, I was due to fly out tomorrow, but with many of my favourite people in town, I thought, Christmas is once a year after all, and a beach will always be there – so I shall be spending December in London (subject to away dates) – hopefully with you! I can’t wait to get back to my normal life of dinners and champagne evenings. We have survived! And now it is time to celebrate. I love spontaneity, but my diary doesn’t, so please plan out date in advance if you can. It’s Christmas after all, and I’m a firm believer that between visiting relatives you don’t really like, and the mind numbing hours trawling through the John Lewis website only to find that thing you should of bought two weeks ago is now sold out, you should always make some time around Christmas for yourself – after all, even Santa deserves a treat. A substantial ****, even 😉
Lots of love,
Hope you are well, that your temperature is mild, that your throat isn’t tickly, and that you’ve adjusted to the new world of masks and rubber gloves (although for a kinky babe like me, this has always been my world!). The age of Billie withdrawal is over! I wanted to take a moment to put together a few notes about dining. Over dinner or lunch is of course one of the most effective ways to get to know someone – how better to relax than over a delicious meal, a good bottle of wine, and with sexy, intelligent company.
Some of the restaurants I haven’t visited but would love to are:
Ticked off my list so far:
Can’t wait to catch up, or meet you for the first time over some delicious food!
Big kisses and footsie under the table…
Love Billie xx
A time for Freedom and Festivity
Available from Dec 3rd for Dinner, Overnight stays, and Away dates.
Why not make the end of lockdown, the start of a new adventure? I think we can all agree we deserve it!
I look forward to your invitation.
To be continued…!
Some suggestions for at-home restaurant dining. All available Chez Billie.
Gymkahna (Indian – 1 Michelin Star):
Hide (Modern European – 1 Michelin Star)
Bocca Di Lupo (My favourite Italian – Sharing plates):
Galvin (French – 1 Michelin Star, and others):
Kitchen Table (European – 2 Michelin Star):
Sketch (Modern European):