(long read)

Hi Yummies!

I hope you are well and enjoying the sunshine. Rumour has it that if you turn your central heating on full blast, strip down to your shorts, and sip an ice cold glass of champagne with your eyes closed, you can just about convincingly imagine you’re in the south of France. Speaking of which, I am getting itchy feet – this now being the longest running period of time I’ve spent in the UK since I was 18. Yes, I know in the schemes of natural and manmade disaster, world pandemic, civil uprising, and the fear of a second wave (and the associated mini-disasters: no sex, no toilet roll etc), not travelling does seem very much like a first world problem but… I’m a first world woman so there’s not much I can do about that. Although life is slowly getting back to as normal as it can be, I desperately miss the romantic weekends and luxurious weeks I would spend as a travel companion, and the more natural relaxed dynamic this brings, as well as of course exploring the peoples, art, cuisines, and pleasures of other countries. I’ve started to get a pang of almost-jealousy when watching those food-travel shows where Rick Stein or Anthony Bourdain stroll through San Sebastien, or Istanbul, or Paris, enjoying the very best of fine and simple food.

Have been enjoying some delicious and varied lunch and dinner dates recently and it’s been a lot of fun. Have ticked off a few “bucket list” restaurants thanks to the efforts of some thoughtful and generous gentlemen. Oh the joy of not having to cook! Of course, I love cooking, but months into lockdown even I was losing the will to be chopping tomatoes and peeling garlic on a daily basis. With every corner I turn there’s a new restaurant I would like to try – this is one of the tings I love the most about living in town. I walk down Charlotte Street and think -I want to try every single one of these. There was a time about 3-4 years ago where I would do fine dining at least twice a week every week. It was silly really – a sort of… status thing, the way some people think they must always wear lots of jewellery. I thought, you surely haven’t made it through life unless you’ve eaten your age in Michelin stars every year. It became a big blur of tasting menus and amuse bouches, and many of these restaurants I barely remember. It was a good lesson in the perils of excess, and in learning to savour special things.

A while ago there was an article in the Spectator (perhaps by Taki?), which said, if a cheese is good, you only need a tiny piece of it. I remember scoffing to myself at the time, but with reflection it seems true to me. As I broadened my dining experiences, I realised I don’t need a super-fine dining experience every day. I love these things – everything from getting dressed up in a beautiful outfit and picking complimentary heels and fragrance, to that magical moment where we are seated, perhaps sipping on some lovely champagne, and looking through the menu (I never ever look at a menu before I eat at the restaurant, as I love surprises, no matter how small). As someone who really enjoys cooking, I get pleasure even from the menu – how the chef has paired the flavours, how the sommelier pairs the wine, and so on. I am a magpie for detail – I always notice beautiful silverware, heavy salt and pepper mills, I love the crisp white napkin placed on my lap by a reassuringly French waiter. Warm bread to start (try to resist but normally can’t), cheese trolleys, are beautiful delicate fine plates of food. Yes! I love this experience! This is the part of me that loves classic and traditional things. I don’t like to haggle with quality – I enjoy fine dining experiences which simply do not compromise.

But I can’t do this all the time.

I need gastropub, tapas, something creative or modern, menus that change daily, open kitchens, heavily tattooed chefs who will under no circumstances accommodate “special dietary requirements”. Enjoying and experiencing these restaurants are a gift my clients have given me, and add some much needed balance. Last week, a Sunday lunch at The Thomas Cubitt and a beautiful dinner at 50 Cheyenne were exactly what I needed – food that is excellent, but honest and not trying too hard. I am also in LOVE with Meraki, a Greek restaurant near me, with a great bar and such delicious food. Event the tomato salad – these are the most delicious, sweet, tasty tomatoes you have ever had! Needing an Asian fix later in the week, a girlfriend and I had a fantastic evening at Roka. I know it’s the most predictable ever but I LOVE the black cod and the shrimp tempura. And the lamb chops. Haha! I also read that Le Caprice was closing down. I really regret having only dined there twice – it’s one of those restaurants that you forget about because it’s so tucked away. Well anyway, I noticed directly opposite Zuma it appears to be re-opening, so definitely one I would like to try in the future.

When will she stop talking about food and tell me a sexy story, I hear you ask.

I’m working on a sexy fantasy that I will hopefully post late next week. I have to be in a particular mood to write erotica, so, like so many of life’s best things, it happens spontaneously when it happens. I have however finally decided (with many encouraging nudges from friends and dates) decided to finally pursue my cooking and food writing in a more meaningful way. Even writing this is giving me a knot in my stomach as I have massive fear of failure, but it’s something I really enjoy and think I maybe have a talent for. Don’t worry, I shall remember you all when I have my own BBC cooking show where I pretend to be demure and wholesome. And of course I am cooking a lot, as ever, but as I’m back to eating out frequently, it’s a lot more salads and light meals than before, although I did cook poussin for the first time (they said it was poussin, I’m not so sure as it really was a TINY bird). On my course at Le Cordon Bleu, they taught us how to prepare it, so I managed to cook the poussin to perfection and it was very delicious.

I think I have in the last few months watched every (worthwhile) documentary known to man. Just finished watching the 3-Part “Once Upon a Time in Iraq” on the BBC which I thought was excellent. Sometimes you watch this type of documentary and almost feel embarrassed about how comfortable your life is – through accident of birth we are so lucky to live here in the UK and have the freedoms we have. When you watch documentaries – particularly about war, it really puts into perspective how if you’ve been blessed with a fortunate life, it’s your duty to appreciate and enjoy every moment you can.

I’m also really enjoying my book “21 Lessons…” By Yuval Noah Harari. This is a must read for everyone! He is so clever and insightful. His thoughts on the future, and how technology and biology will combine, on how data and algorithms will become the most important things in our lives, and on how society and class will be shaped by these things… really he is so intelligent the book is excellent so far. Once technology knows you better than you know yourself (which is really not that difficult) “Google” could be the one telling you which job or University you should go for, which companion you should pick, what holiday would suit you best and so on. We may say to ourselves “oh but I would never trust a computer to make these decisions”, but Harari proposes that we already do. Whether it’s the exchange rate, the weather, or what year WW1 ended, on a daily basis we ask Google questions and trust the first answer it gives us. Once humans are connected to the right technology, they will know us better than they know ourselves because they will know our subconscious.

Harari’s suggestion is once technology and biology are fused together, those who can afford it will be able to buy themselves massive advantages – internal technologies that will essentially make them live considerably longer healthier lives. They will be able to pay to have their children genetically engineered to be attractive, tall, intelligent, modest, athletic, or whatever traits they desire. This will create a larger gap between those who can afford this and who can’t, leading to two (or multiple) species of humans – the upgraded tech-driven humans on top, and then everyone else below them. Those on the bottom will have no jobs (all jobs will be automated – other than mine of course haha!) and a massive chasm of inequality will open up. I read in a different book that no one can ever accurately predict the future because the prediction itself, changes the course of the future, but his thoughts are very interesting.

So anyway, I’m back at the gym and it’s a weird experience. Sanitizer wipes everywhere! I think whoever owns the Hand Sanitizer factory has had a very good year! Other than that, it’s quiet, which I prefer anyway and I’m happy to be back, but will definitely be keeping up with the outdoor workouts and running. So funny a few days ago I was doing a boxing workout in the park with a PT I met there, and people were stopping on the path to watch me(!) It’s only my third time trying it but it’s such a good workout. I also had a full body scan where they essentially give you a 2 page MOT of everything wrong with you – or so I thought! To my surprise every single one of my physical stats is in the perfect range for my height, age etc, and the machine which usually give you pointers on what areas to work on, believes I have nothing to work on at all. I do enjoy working out, but of course enjoy my food too so wasn’t expecting such good results – with my fat % on the middle to lower end of “normal”, and my lean muscle % on the middle to higher end of “normal”. I’ve finally managed to tackle my shin splints, with a combination of compression socks, and running/skipping on grass instead of harder surfaces. I still have further goals to be exactly where I want to be physically, but it’s good to see I’m on the right track. I think like most women, I can sometimes feel self-conscious about too big or too small or too something else, so for the way my brain works, numbers are very helpful as they are objective.

I’ve FINALLY set up my record player, an embarrassing 2 years after one of my favourite people bought it for me. I originally wanted some beautiful, big vintage speakers (I still do) but became paralysed with choice, so have temporarily bought some smaller entry level ones until I decided which ones I want to have “forever”. Vinyl is such a sexy, gorgeous music format. Everything from Sinatra to Sade, Bob Marley to the Beatles, Mick Jagger to Motown… it all just sounds so good. It’s funny (or perhaps depressing) the older you get the more you start pining for things you once had. Okay, I’m not even 30 yet! But still, I remember the sound system I grew up to, one of those old school silver 80’s-90’s ones (we couldn’t afford the SONY one so ours was by (ahem) “AIWA” – if that’s still a thing), 4 units stacked on top of each other with dials and nobs everywhere for extra bass, or treble. Like most people, we threw ours out with the advent of MP3, but its something I would like to revisit sometime in the future.

Speaking of Billies most wanted, I have added some things to my Net-a-Porter Wishlist if you felt like spoiling your favourite companion: https://www.net-a-porter.com/wishlist/5804ae6fe4b04659eb8ac4f1 😊 I’ve picked out some timeless classy pieces which I would love to add to my wardrobe. I ended up giving a fond farewell to one of my favourite pairs of shoes on Wednesday, after a slightly hazy, but very glam night in Soho at Groucho. They were in fairness, a very old and very well loves paid of heels that I was given on one of my first ever trips to Rome (I love it there). I took them to a cobblers the next day, he handed them back to me and said “Beautiful shoe and it’s a real shame, but we can’t do miracles”. I love wearing sexy elegant heels! So nice to be back to some semblance of a social life – I started lockdown with good intention but by the end, I was pretty much living in a uniform of a big t shirt, silk pyjamas/negligee or a dressing gown!

Oops, I’ve been writing for ages – I have to dash – congratulations if you got to the end! Having a fun and sunny week so far and looking forward to this weekends plans. Can’t wait to see you soon for a catch up.

Big kiss!