Sunday, 20 March 2011

Pick Me Up / Victo Ngai

I had the pleasure of visiting the Pick Me Up exhibition at Somerset House this week, I absolutely loved it! Generally speaking (as I’m sure many of you know when you work in this industry) you get invited to all sorts of shows. Most of the time I never buy anything, its probably to do with the fact that I’d bankrupt myself before you can say ‘Limited Edition’ if I bought everything I liked. However, Pick Me Up was different. There was lots of wonderful artwork to be had, my chosen highlights would be MVM, Anthony Burill’s Studio, McBess, Kate Moross and Jessica Hische.
My particular favourite was Victo Ngai. Victo, aka Victoria Ngai (her English name from school), aka Ngai Chuen Ching (her Chinese name) is definitely one to look out for. Her work has many fusions of style, the most dominant being Japanese prints and coincidently one of my most favourite forms of art. I purchased the two prints below, ‘Bowl Cut’ and ‘Lost in Translation,’ more of her work can be seen at

Roses are Violet, Violets are blue...

This is a rather short blog post, just because I can't find anything out about Mary Lane roses! I felt though that they were so beautiful I had to include them. They are from the amazing florist Jamie Aston and are called 'Violet Mary Lane Roses.' Rob has basically shot himself in the foot with this offering, red, cream, white or just average pink will no longer suffice now I know 'violet' roses exist! 

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Jules Risotto

I realise this is a little self-indulgent but having experienced the sometimes painful frustration of making good risotto I thought it only right and proper to share my recipe with you. Before you say it, this post absolutely fits within my ‘aesthetically pleasing’ blog theme because it truly is a good looking dish. I hadn’t planned to use my lunch as a blog post so to those cynics amongst you my photographic reference is an accurate representation of this dish. Had I actually thought about it I would have purchased some Parmesan to give a few artistic curls of it to the top! This serves 2 really hungry people or 4 with bread and a side salad.

200g Smoked Lardons (don’t go for Economy, you can always tell the difference)
2 generous tbs Butter/Marg (I use Clover, I don’t think it makes much difference)
1 large glass of white wine (or Rose, I used it when I didn’t have white, worked out fine. Try not to use cheap wine, it really pays to get this bit right.)
4 chicken breasts
1 large onion
150g Shitake Mushrooms (I use organic)
200g Peas (fresh or frozen)
200g Risotto Rice
2 cloves garlic
2 handfuls of Rocket leaves
1 Litre of boiling water with Knorr Chicken Stockpot stirred in it.
Salt and Pepper
Non-stick pot/deep pan/large saucepan (it has to hold all of the ingredients comfortably) and a frying pan
Wooden spoon/spatula.

  1. First thing to do to make sure you keep control of this dish is to prepare everything! Cut the chicken into medium sized chunks, chop the mushrooms in a way that shows their great shapes (i.e. don’t cut off the stalks), slice the onion in half and then slice the halves thinly. Boil the kettle and poor a litre of water into a bowl/jug, add the stockpot, give it a little stir.
  2. In your non-stick pot start to melt the butter on a medium heat, add the onions and a pinch of salt.
  3. In a frying pan put the lardons (no need for oil) on a medium heat, once they look like they are starting to brown turn the heat down to low and add the chicken breast (don't brown). Cook on a low heat, the result should be that by the time you finish the risotto (roughly 20mins) the chicken will be tender and the already partially cooked lardons browned.
  4. Once the onions start to flop a little add the risotto rice so that it absorbs what’s left of the butter. Once the risotto rice has absorbed the butter carefully take only the juice from the frying pan with the chicken and bacon in it and add it to the rice. Stir for a few minutes and then add the glass of wine. Stir. Still on a medium heat.
  5. Once the wine has been nearly all absorbed by the rice start to add the stock a ladle at a time, don’t add too much, this is an important part of the process. Every time your spatula creates a path through the risotto which takes a while to be overlapped by the mixture its time to add another ladle full. Don’t forget to check that your chicken is not overcooking. If its cooked but the lardoons still need browning just put the chicken in some tin foil and turn the heat up on the lardons to brown.
  6. Keep going with the stock until the rice is cooked through and tender to eat, the mixture should have a little excess moisture but not be runny. Please note the stock water needed is roughly a litre, it might be less or slightly more – there is no exact science. If your peas are frozen add them now, for 2 mins of cooking.
  7. Take both pans off the heat and season the risotto to taste.
  8. If your peas are fresh add them now, stir them in. Add the chicken and the lardons, stir. Scatter in the rocket leaves, stirring as you go.
  9. Eat!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Port Magazine

I picked myself up a brand spanking new first copy of 'Port' Magazine today which promises to be 'The new intelligent style magazine for men.' I am no literary buff so shall not focus on the writing but will say that I was really excited to see some beautiful page layouts and some equally beautiful photography adorning the rather nice matt stock. I love the fact that as you turn the pages the rich variety of composition keeps the look fresh and pleasing to the eye. With a number of high profile contributors to boast of, including Daniel Day-Lewis, Samantha Morton, Jon Snow, Will Self etc this new venture has obviously been a long, considered project that will appeal to not only men but women also. I imagine that this will be the magazine girlfriends/wives will want their men to buy just so that they get to have a look too! Being a fan of illustration, I was pleased to see that Port had made the effort to source 2 established artists, one being an old tutor of mine, Jason Ford.
Unsurprisingly this publication is a quarterly magazine, aligning itself with seasonal release dates. Port have created a special publication that encompasses a wide range of topics, presenting them in a beautifully thought out design. I look forward to seeing Summer! You can also check out their website

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Stylish Coffee

I don’t drink coffee but Rob does and that would be enough excuse to buy this gem of a Nespresso Machine! The nice thing about this rather stylish item is that due to the choice of palette by Manish Arora it would arguably fit comfortably in most kitchens. The beautiful illustrations tell a story of ‘Nespresso’ the girl whom Bacchitarius (King of a far away kingdom) marries and has 16 daughters with. The reason Bacchitarius found Nespresso so irresistible was because of her unique scent. Their daughters inherit their own unique scent, each different to the other and have a mission bestowed upon them to spread their love and this perfume around the world.
Arora is of course an established Indian fashion designer ( and although this project is a little different to how we would usually display his work I think it’s easy to say that the transition has been a successful one. He is known for his fusion of traditional Indian crafts with a Western edge.
Should you wish to get your hands on one the Limited Edition CitiZ machine is available in the UK at Selfridges.