DINE…. lunch at The Ivy Chelsea Garden

Location :  The Ivy Chelsea Garden, 195 -197 King’s Road, London SW3 5EQ

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The Bag: The Goldbourne in Monochrome

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Photography: Brian Minkoff

Food: British brasserie & Grill

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Eaten (and recommended): Duck salad £9.25, Whole Dover sole £37.00, Rib eye £27.95,  Char grilled Banham ½ chicken £14.95, Ivy’s ‘must have’ Signature dessert- Chocolate bomb £8.50

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Drinks: Angels Share ( highly recommended!!   a fantastic take on a Mojito with kumquats, ginger,lemon grass , Kaffir lime leaves and Havana rum) £9.50, Lavender Lady £8.00

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The space: Elegant, spacious, beautiful garden and terrace

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Service: Lively & personable

Celebrity spotting: Michael Caine, Princess Beatrice, Joan Collins

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Paris with my ‘The Brewer’ Holdall

Hit by the tough economic downturn as well as recent unrest there seems to be quite a big divide in opinion when it comes to Paris:     It’s beautiful- it’s dirty, it’s exciting- it’s dangerous, it’s cool- it’s run down, it’s delicious- it’s full of fast food

I Paris hop regularly and am never 100% sure how I feel about going these days, when the sun is shining I think ‘OK, it will be fine’ but when it rains I wonder ‘what on earth am I doing going there in the first place?’

For my most recent mid-April trip I left Kings Cross International ‘armed’ with my lovely ‘The Brewer’ travel holdall, now that on its own (I confess) is enough to put me in a good mood.

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A couple of hours later I arrive ,Paris is kind and greets me with sunny skies. I set off on my mad schedule, I certainly know how to pack in a full day’s work made easier by the fact that I’ve been so many times that making a B line from the station to my favourite haunts is second nature.

Say what you will, there is always something new and exciting to discover here and that is what really makes Paris so unique.

So a quick run-down of what excited me this time:

An amazing cheese shop caught my eye, the large milk urns leading to the door and the outdoor cooled fridge packed with cheeses .Even though I didn’t buy or try any it was just spectacular.

It’s asparagus and strawberry season and all the green grocers have them out on display, they just look so good and they display them so beautifully

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Lunch break for me and my bag ….

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In a little corner café I take the ‘dish of the day’  which turns out to be the most delicious home-made ravioli and green salad.  I just love it that in France it is completely cool to wipe clean the sauce on your plate with your bread, how good is that!

 

The flats in Central Paris, especially the buildings that taper into a corner are beautiful.

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The independent clothing boutiques are the best I have seen anywhere, absolutely and without a doubt.  But even the larger Dept stores embrace fashion in the grandest of manner. So Spring has hit Printemps and you just can’t miss the buzz, large floral rabbits included.

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As I step out of Printemps the heavens open, hailstones the size of golf balls followed by a heavy downpour. I head on back into Printemps and the quiet oasis which is the Cojean café in the lower ground floor. White and silver minimalism, healthy alternative snacks and salads, vegan cakes and lots of lovely teas. My tray looks great on the table top and my The Brewer holdall looks even better hanging from its under table bag hanger- how thoughtful of them to do this.   Any bag designer and bag lover reading this blog will totally get this,surely this is what life is all about.

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Back at the Gare du Nord I regroup my thoughts, the intention was to go to Paris armed solely with my Brewer travel holdall which is very spacious and to fill it up with a few bits and pieces bought on the way and that’s it.

Did I stick to my plan? Why of course not, too many things to buy in Paris!!

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And Raymond cooked lunch…

An invitation to eat at Raymond Blanc’sLe Manoir aux Quat’Saison’ is not one to be taken lightly, and most definitely not one for refusing. So when my mother told me that on her list of ‘things to do’ she still had to eat at Le Manoir, I obliged and very quickly. I made the booking some 3 months ahead and was mentally counting down the days.
I’ve always been a great fan of Raymond Blanc’s cooking and the philosophy behind his food. I was I confess, curious to know if indeed his cooking and passion for seasonal organic produce was going to be as good as it came across in his cookery programmes.

The hotel ‘Belmond, Le Manoir aux quat’Saison’ is situated in Great Milton, Oxfordshire and surrounded by lawns, flower beds, orchards and of course, the vegetable and herb garden, which supplies the kitchen with its fresh organic produce. It is idyllic, beautiful, typically English, peaceful and very welcoming- in fact, it is perfect.

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We were lucky enough to arrive on an English summer’s day, sunny but not too hot, menus, aperitifs and beautiful canapés were served al-fresco on the lawn, till we were called to go indoors to our table.

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We were advised that there is approx. a 20 minute wait between courses, details of our dishes were put on our table as a ‘take-away’ menu. This, they advised, is so that customers don’t have to have long introductory speeches by their waiters every time a dish is served-unless of course they want to, in which case all they have to do is ask.
For the next 2.5 hours we sat captivated as each dish arrived at our table, each a work of art

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cod

duck

risotto

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We both ordered the same dessert

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Followed by coffee and petit fours in the garden

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Did it meet my expectations? Well, it was beautifully served, in perfect surroundings, by fantastic staff and most importantly- it was in fact the best food I have ever had, one to remember.

( Oh and one more thing, which I loved- there is no mobile phone reception in the restaurant!)

Wish I could add the smell too

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I should have gone out running today, I should have gone and made a dent into my yet undone Christmas shopping, I had things for the house I really needed to buy. So what did I do?  I stayed at home and I made these gorgeous mini doughnuts, served hot, dipped in sugar and cinnamon with a side of fresh brewed coffee. Just a shame that wordpress doesn’t come with a ‘smell this’ option .