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February 8, 2012

London: The Shoreditch Excursion

As you saw in our London Debate, I was a bit blasé about a return, thinking that since I’d been many times before, there’s would be nothing more to excite me in Londontowne.

But clearly cities- like the communities they house- evolve, flourish and expand. Nothing is static but their monuments to history.  And thinking that by visiting a city numerous times that I actually know it, is like assuming one knows what a man will be like as a boyfriend after only just sleeping together casually a few times.  It takes more than a couple visits to really know what’s going on under the surface.

So any assumptions I had of London being what it’s always been were (not shockingly) overly simplistic.  Jolly old London is expanding and inventing new neighborhoods, just as much as anywhere else.  So while other tourists prefer those monuments to history, I was most excited about jolly new London.


One of my favorite new discoveries: Shoreditch.

Londoners familiar with New York compare it to hipster Williamsburg, but for my tastes (which included cringing at the word hipster…and, well, Brooklyn), I prefer to think of it in its own terms. New and up-and-coming, graffiti on the brick walls, art galleries, elegant yet casual restaurants, bars by the blocks.
Not overdone, just done enough.

If you visit, check out some of my favorites for…

Callooh Callay: Where the cocktails are crafted with mixologists’ care and the interior is midcentury modern-meets-1970’s swingers lair-meets-ode to the party gnomes. Totally fun, totally sexy, and with a great sense of humor.  The drinks menu is an homage to an Ikea instruction booklet. (Love!)

Callooh Callay
65 Rivington Street
London EC2A 3AY

The Princess of Shoreditch: Updated version of a classic pub.  A gorgeous chandelier in the front glassed stairwell is refreshingly unlike the standard oak and leather-lined decor of the haunts we call pubs here in the States.  The Princess’s large windows frame the candle-lit couples and groups of friends huddled and sharing a good glass of wine.

The Princess of Shoreditch
76 Paul Street
London EC2A 4 NE

…Post Dinner Drinks
Electricity Showrooms: More casual than The Princess, Electricity Showrooms’ dark wood-paneled interior with brass sconces is a throwback to the building's original incarnation as purveyor of lightbulbs, gramophones and vacuums in the 1920’s.

Electricity Showrooms
39A Hoxton Square
Shoreditch, London N1 6NN

PS- I loved sampling some of London’s locally-brewed beers at many of the pubs I frequented, like Sambrooks Brewery‘s Wandle and East London Brewing‘s Nightwatchman.

Enjoy! xx


January 9, 2013  

Discovering Art at London's Best (Hidden) Street Market: The Mushroom Picker

One of my favorite finds in London is this street market waaaaaay out in East London. Londoners might not even call it London. Though others will say that’s it’s the real London. Regardless, it’s a part of town far from Big Ben and the Tower Bridge.

Yet where the Underground ends, discovery begins.

Every Saturday stalls fill Broadway, a small street by London Fields in the neighborhood of Hackney, where purveyors the most eclectic cuisines serve up savory treats. On my last trip to London, I’d already strolled the stalls for more than an hour, stuffing myself with as many different flavors as possible, when I came upon the Sporeboys outpost.

What caught my eye wasn’t the giant tureen of risotto, but the the stunning imagery on a hardback book displayed alongside their mushroom varietals. The man standing behind the risotto was also the man behind the book, author and fungi-o-phile, David Robinson.

What appears to be a visual artist’s representation of a botanist’s dream sequences is actually a children’s book in rhyming verse. From the publisher:

The Mushroom Picker tells the tale of charismatic mushroom characters thriving in an English wood, and of one heroine in particular, Penny Bun – a rare and spectacular porcini – who evades The Mushroom Picker’s annual autumn harvest. 
Lovingly crafted by a mushroom obsessive, the co-founder of internationally renowned Sporeboys street-kitchen, these unique images show highly fanciful scenes and portraits from this adventure. Robinson’s luminograms themselves are created in his darkroom in mysterious fashion using a cameraless process: Robinson artfully arranges hand-cut mushrooms directly on the plate glass of his enlarger and varies the intensity of light exposed to his subjects to create Penny Bun’s extraordinary universe. Afterwards, when his luminograms are developed, Robinson’s funghi are summarily discarded (or eaten!), these tableaux never to be remade.

Bonding over some serious mushroom talk as he doled out risotto and famed mushroom medley sandwiches, David told me of his about his passion for porchini and recent meetings with one of my favorite museums in the world, on whose walls the prints may eventually find themselves. …All with a huge smile and affable charm.

While the Mushroom Picker is an epic tale, I can tell that Mr. Robinson is at the precipice of a really exciting ride.

Oh, by the way: Even if mushrooms aren’t your thing, save a Saturday morning in London for a trip east to Broadway Market in Hackney. Beats Central London’s Borough Market, hands down.

Let’s be honest: I’m antsy in anticipation to see if I’ll be able to aquire any of David’s stunning tableus as fine art prints. Stay tuned! We’ll keep you posted on what and where and when for the next big things from this Sporeboy.

Accessorize: Like I did for my brother’s Christmas gift. The masterpiece is available on Amazon, published by Violette Editions.

January 8, 2011

Buenos Aires: Sexy In The City

No, not this city.

Hard to feel sexy when, with a puffer, jeans and boots, I still can’t feel my legs.

Just back from Buenos Aires, I realize that it’s not the 80-degree temps that make BA hot.

It’s the men yelling in the street, singing with their hombres for your attention.

It’s Tango.

It’s the absurd amount of red meat and Malbec that simply must be consumed.

And it’s their simple yet provocative dessert, which- at its mere mention- is the gastronomic equivalent to dropping ‘Lolita’ in a literary conversation; an indicator that the conversation is about to get much more interesting.

Since I couldn’t bring those amusing, drunken portenos back on the plane to follow me singing on Manhattan’s crowded sidewalks, I’ll concentrate on other sexy imports.


My jaw dropped at the sight of gliding couples, legs-a-swivel, slow and sensual. The age or dress of the dancers had no bearing on how hot the dance moves. I was inspired by an octogenarian couple that looked barely able to shuffle to the dance floor and yet could rotate the lower legs in sync, not missing a beat.

To recreate our New Year’s Eve milonga experience, I’m excited to try Triangulo here in Manhattan. They have lessons for all levels, welcoming anyone looking for a group session, drop-in classes or private lessons. And note they host milongas on Friday afternoons and Tuesday evenings. Ole.

Triangulo: Carina Moeller’s studio for Argentine Tango
135 W 20th St #301
B/W 6th & 7th
NY, NY 10011
(212) 633-6445 ‎


This odd statement by yours truly became a motto, a battle cry, at almost every meal as we marched in ordering yet another lomo, rump or slab of beef short ribs a las parillas.

New Yorkers have strong preferences for their steaks. Chowhound blows up at the mere question of where to take a boyfriend for a birthday dinner if you’ve already been there, done that at Peter Luger. From the heated suggestions and lengthy rationalizations for Strip House, Wolfgang’s, BLT Steak, Keens, oh, Luger’s again and some rogue carnivores touting Bobby Van’s, only one really sizzles enough to catch my attention- Robert’s Steakhouse, conveeeeeniently located within the Penthouse Executive Club.

Robert’s Steakhouse
603 W 45th Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 245-0002

As I’ve yet to sample any delights at Robert’s- or the Penthouse Executive Club, for that matter- I’ll refer you to Frank Bruni’s NY Times write up, Where Only the Salad Is Properly Dressed.


The hot factor on this cold dessert needs no explanation.

Just say it to yourself: