Friday, October 28, 2011

Hat tricks

Spring racing has hit the racetrack—and for many of us it's more about the fashion than the fillies. A fabulous hat is the finishing touch to every race-day outfit. I particularly love vintage styles, as seen in fashion photography from the 1950s and Old Hollywood films. A small hat can be easy to wear, and won't overwhelm a beautiful dress. Marlene Dietrich wore hats particularly well, such as chic hats with veils that covered the eyes and even sailor styles. At the opposite end of the style spectrum, huge-brimmed hats are spectacular (and are also good for keeping the sun off). Take a lead from the '50s, when sweeping skirts were balanced by hats that curved gently from crown to brim. And whether you go small or large, floral trimmings are especially beautiful—you'll be perfectly placed in the trackside gardens.
Check out our favourite milliners:
Neil Grigg:
Sandie Bizys:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pie in the sky

Banoffee Pie is one of the great dessert indulgences. Not one for the dairy intolerant, but if you like all things banana, caramel and cream, you'll love it. This recipe comes from Café Sopra (another one of my favourite places to eat out), it's truly delicious and is as easy as it looks. I made it for the first time recently to take to a friends house for lunch and it got the big thumbs-up from everyone. It's worth a go—just beware, you may become addicted...


Café Sopra's Banoffee Pie

2 x 400g cans of sweetened condensed milk
180g unsalted butter, chopped
375g digestive biscuits, halved
60ml thickened cream
Scraped seeds of 2 vanilla beans
75g icing sugar, sifted
4 bananas
30g dark chocolate, finely grated

Serves 12
Start this recipe a day ahead.

Place the cans of condensed milk in a large saucepan of water and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 hours adding water if necessary to ensure cans remain covered, remove cans and cool in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile melt butter in a small saucepan, and then cool slightly. Using a food processor crush biscuits to fine crumbs, add the butter and process briefly to combine. Press crumb mixture over the base of a greased 28cm loose based tin then refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm the base.

Open cooled cans of condensed milk and spoon caramel evenly over the biscuit base and refrigerate overnight to firm.

To assemble pie - using an electric mixer whisk cream, vanilla bean seeds and sugar to stiff peaks. Cut bananas into thin slices. Remove pie from tin and loosen base and place on a plate. Spoon or pipe half the whipped cream over the caramel filling, then place the bananas in an overlapping circle working from the outside in. Top with the remaining cream and sprinkle with grated chocolate.

Cut into slices with a hot dry knife and serve immediately.
By: Café Sopra

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


This is currently one of my favourite albums, featuring one of the original members of Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club with incredible musicians from Mali. It’s such an upbeat album with amazing rhythms and it exudes a really infectious joy. With summer nearly here, I’m really looking forward to this becoming the soundtrack to some sunset cocktail parties on the back deck with friends. I know it will put a smile on their faces, too.

Track – Para Los Pinares Se Va Monotro:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Woven wonders

Here’s a beautiful (and exclusive) addition to our stores for summer—mochila bags from South America. These colourful hand-woven bags are made by the women of the Wayuu group that lives on the border of Venezuela and Colombia, on the La Guajira Peninsula. Weaving is something that the Wayuu have done for centuries, passed down from generation to generation, and is something in which they take great pride. Traditionally they would be worn two at a time, across the body, to carry heavy items. I love that no two bags are alike, each being unique to the woman that created it. But also, the colours and patterns are so vibrant and uplifting, these will be the perfect beach bag this summer.