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Trust those Italians to add more than a dash of sex appeal even when trying to sell you manure! I thought these were hilarious. Our green-fingered faceless lady has digits as perfectly manicured as her bed of geraniums. This is the country that gave us Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Nancy dell’Olio and Donatella Versace after all.

La Dolce Vita indeed.

These would work brilliantly as an ironic make up story. Very Stepford wives on holiday in Tuscany. Our Lady in her garden. Let’s not beat about the bush. Wink wink.

This might gross you out. You might want to look away…

Exhibit A

In Paris again. I was sat outside Le Centenaire the other night, a little bistro on the corner of Oberkampf and Amelot, with a friend, having dinner, drinking, smoking. The city is slowly getting back on its feet after its August summer sabbatical, unwillingly so, perhaps, stretching, yawning and mourning the death of its suntan.

Anyway, I noticed the bump on my friend’s hand, jutting out just where wrist meets palm. She’s a cool chick. Works in fashion as a print and textiles designer. She explained that bump had formed over years of mouse-abuse, hunched over a computer screen, churning out those very lovely drawings one after the other. Such a lovely girl she is, my friend. But such an ugly… protrusion.

Mind you, who am I to talk? Witness Exhibit B below_

Exhibit B

Oh, yes, I sport my own unsightly bump on the middle finger of my right hand. Years of sketching out all those lovely frocks. Its getting bigger… I wonder if when some future archeologist digs up our bodies, hundreds of years from now, that they’ll be able to guess what we did from our gradually deformed appendages and arched backs? Shudder.

Dont even get me started on the weird carbuncles and bunions that plague my fashion girlfriends. Chloe and Balenciaga have a lot to answer for.  A LOT.

I got the new 10 Magazines last week, men’s and women’s issues. I’m quite particular about what magazines I buy for various reasons:-

1. Cost, obviously.

2. Space. I’m a serial collector so I’d rather focus my efforts than have to jostle for space with a million glossies.

3. Blogs seem to be taking over and are more effective at keeping you up to date.

4. Content. The most important factor. Quality writing. Surprising editorials.

My reading list is quite small: 10 Magazine, Butt, Monocle, Fantastic Man, The Gentlewoman, Frame Magazine and The Economist’s Intelligent Life. Occasionally, I’ll but the Acne Paper but that’s it, really. Oh, and INDUSTRIE. Actually, not that small really…

Anyway Back to 10 and their amazing issue to celebrate their 10th Anniversary. I’ll be honest – I was getting quite bored with 10. It was getting a bit predictable and didn’t hold my interest as much. Nevertheless, I still bought it. The Serial Collector in me likes lining up the spines chronologically! The new issues are dedicated completely to Guinevere Van Seenus, for girls, and Tony Ward, for boys and seem to be fighting blows that will hopefully usher in a decade where the magazine returns to form. Guinevere is an amazing model who’s been quietly getting on with business for ages now. No blood diamond debacles here. It’s funny, I kind of forgot about her and then noticed her appearing in more editorials as of late. She graced the cover of the new Acne Paper and now 10 have dedicated a whole issue to her.

From the cover shot I had a feeling that this was going to be a strong issue. I like the way the lines traced through foam on her body suggest Keith Haring-esque marks on Grace Jones via Jean Paul Goude teamed with the cheesy sordidness of a Playboy centrefold. It forms part of the Mario Sorrenti piece entitled The Beauty Sitting. You’d be hard pushed to call it a fashion story as it features hardly any product but as an art piece it is incredibly powerful, striking and emotional. Above all it showcases Guinevere’s strengths as a model and Sorrenti’s mastery of the lens. No clothes. Just muse, artist and one HELL OF A VISION. The issue is worth getting just on that one shoot alone. There are so many more references you could point out but the one that rings most true is the artist Hans Bellmer. Strange, darkly beautiful and thought-provoking. You don’t come across shoots like this often.

Hans Bellmer: La Poupee 1935

And off we went on the train down to Maidenhead, the 6 of us, in search of a rather unusual supper at The Fat Duck. We’ve all heard about it, recognise the bespectacled visage of the one and only Mr. Heston Blumenthal, seen him perform culinary feats of magic on the telly and wondered what those complex things cooked in liquid nitrogen would taste like. So with healthy appetites and nervous wallets we chugged along, safe in the knowledge that within 24hrs we would know exactly what those nitrogen-poached bits and bobs taste like and, if not quite breadline-ready, just that bit poorer.

<<<What to Wear?!!?>>>

some friends fiercing it up…

The taxi driver posed a question as we arrived at Bray, the little village just outside of Maidenhead where The Fat Duck is actually situated: “Can you tell where it is yet?”

It wasn’t until I spotted the signature fork, knife and spoon logo, carved out of metal, sprouting from the side of a little cottage-like  terrace that I realised that we had arrived.

Unassuming, low-key and very English. This is the crux of The Fat Duck: surprise. You wouldn’t have thought that one of the most directional, highly rated restaurants in the world, with its three Michelin stars, was nestled in quaint surroundings worthy of a Miss Marple romp but here it was, in sleepy Bray.

This isn’t really a restaurant review. I make no claims to being a food critic. But I’m passionate about food and quite enjoy cooking. The one question I kept asking myself was: Would it taste delicious?

Taste is fundamental to food and despite all the theatrical, mad-cap flourishes that Mr. Blumenthal is infamous for if the food didn’t taste good, strike that, AMAZING!!!, then he would have failed. We were probably amongst the youngest of diners and quite possibly the most fabulously attired. The  smart casual dress code is quite refreshing. Again, that idea of contrast and surprise. I like this relaxed approach to such a refined dining experience and that’s exactly what it was – REFINED.

Every last ounce of flavour had been extracted from each ingredient. Each mouthful was the ultimate expression of flavour. From the first of the 14 course tasting menu I can quite honestly say I have never tasted food like that before. We started off with the nitrogen-poached egg whites with green tea powder – a palette cleanser. Each meringue was individually “cooked” at the table, dusted off with the very potent green tea powder and as you bit into it a lime scented fragrance was sprayed over your head, intensifying the experience. The meringue was unbelivably, tooth-achingly cold and it left the mouth feeling like you’d just left the dentist. Not a very appealing sensation in the context of dinner but it did what it said on the tin – cleaned out the palette, and primed your tastebuds for the sensory overload that was about to follow.

I’m not going to go into a detailed description of each dish even though I remember avery mouthful. Refined versions of all the signature dishes were clear and present. Snail Porridge [delish], Mock Turtle Soup [a lot nicer than it sounds], Hot and Cold Tea [a real headf*ck], Sound of The Sea, served with iPod Nanos playing the sound of crashing waves and seagulls tucked into a massive sea shell [perhaps the most challenging of them all]… It was an absolutely extraordinary experience and I can’t recommend it enough. Tables are easy to get if you book in advance. We booked two months before and of course it isn’t cheap but worth every last penny of the £150 the tasting menu cost. After all, The Fat Duck is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in the world and once you witness the absolute precision, the intricacy, the wonderful service and above all, the TASTE you wont begrudge parting with the cash. Just go easy on wine, like we did. We went for the food after all. However, if you’re a wine aficionado the mighty tome that is modestly referred to as the wine list will give you plenty to get all JILLY GOOLDEN about. I’ll put it like this: the restaurant was fully-booked at its maximum capacity of 45 diners. Compare that with around 75 members of staff, from front of house, through to the kitchen and across the road to the “Research Lab” who had worked so incredibly hard. Nuff said.

Oh, you also get a bag of sweets to take home: LIKE A SWEET SHOP. Only these aren’t your ordinary sweets…

PS Mr. Blumenthal is set to open his first London restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental this October. It will headed by Ashley Palmer-Watts who worked alongside him for 11 years at The Fat Duck. Can’t bloody wait!