Sunday, April 22, 2007

Something for the weekend

The house has been dusted and hoovered, the laundry has been done, breakfast of Mysore coffee, Napoli salami slices, Turkish sheep cheese and the last of the Gorgonzola has been eaten, M's at the gym but will pick up minced beef, a whole chicken and fresh prawns on his way back for various meals this week. There's still a big grocery shop for the week to do and it will be lovely to enjoy this glorious weather with a stroll through the park later. For now, however, I can settle in at my computer and reflect on our weekend so far.

So far this weekend, we've watched... The Oscar-winning German movie The Lives Of Others at the Barbican on Friday night. It's a highly textured, elegant and magnificently crafted thriller and love story played out in the German Democratic Republic in the 1980s and revolves around the lives of a playwright and his actress girlfriend under surveillance by a Stasi captain who begins to falsify his reports in order to protect the couple. Last night, we collapsed after a busy day out with a DVD of witty French comedy Look At Me - a film I first saw at the cinema back in 2004 - about a young amateur musician's fraught relationship with her famous author father.

We've eaten... delicious ribeye steak and chips (him) and calves liver with sage, bacon and mash (me) followed by rhubarb and apple crumble with cream (me) and vanilla cheesecake with orange puree (him) at Smiths of Smithfield in Farringdon. The food was excellent and the spacious warehouse setting with creaking wooden floors and stripped back red brick walls atmospheric, but the braying City workers there on Friday night made the place unbearably noisy.

Yesterday, M made the perfect comfort dish huevos rancheros (above) for breakfast. Later, in Soho, we lunched on humous, grated carrots and spinach on rye and washed it down with green tea (him) and a freshly-squeezed antioxidant juice with oranges, pomegranates, cranberries, ginger and mint at Planet California.

When we got home, after a stimulating and long day browsing shops and galleries, we snacked on Napolina salami, Kalamata olives and Gorgonzola from Lina Stores in Soho, rye bread from the Nordic Bakery in Golden Square, Turkish sheep cheese from Green Lanes and sipped Champagne (above) as we watched all the London editions of Location, Location, Location on Replay.

Later, for dinner, we ate crayfish ravioli with fresh basil from Lina Stores and finished it off with some wonderfully smooth, microbially fermented Pu Erh tea we'd bought earlier in the day from the delightfully knowledgeable and enthusiastic East Teas on Dering Street (above). Dessert was the always exquisite blackcurrent tarte (me) and Assam praline (him) from Yauatcha (below). We'd also bought some fig violet, kumquat and green tea macarons, but we'll save them for later today.

We've viewed... Andreas Gursky again at the White Cube in Mason's Yard and the Sprüth and Magers gallery, Philippe Parreno at the Haunch of Venison, photos of beauty pageant contestants from Russia and Bangkok at the White Space Gallery's Being Beauteous exhibition on Vere Street, the colourful, lyrical and expressionistic paintings of Vietnamese artist Tran Truang Tin at Asia House (who deserves an entire Planethalder post to himself), and at the Riflemaker Gallery on Beak Street the Tracey Emin-esque visual journal recollections (below) of South Korean artist Chosil Kil after her week-long fling with a Latvian self-styled, and rather dull, boho she met at a party in Copenhagen.

Often, it doesn't matter whether I enjoy the artist I am viewing or not as I enjoy exploring the gallery buildings themselves just as much. The Haunch of Venison, for example, featured the nondescript work of Parreno but is wonderfully located off a secluded yard and is spaced across three floors. There are high ceilings, old wooden floors and a sweeping white banister and grey cement stairway. The Riflemaker featured recollections of a rather boring young man but is the West End's oldest public building - a Georgian riflemaker's workshop dating from 1712 - and is full of creaking, dark, rotting spaces. The White Cube in Piccadilly's thrilling Gursky exhibition is housed in a spectacular grey and white bunker of a building hidden inside an anonymous courtyard. The White Space Gallery sits on the top floor of a nondescript and tired church building off Oxford Street - St Peter's Church, which also houses the Institute for Contemporary Christianity - but its exhibition of photos from the the likes of Juergen Teller and Martin Parr were much more engaging.

We also... Browsed through racks of clothes at DKNY (we'll buy in NYC next month as the dollar is so weak - it hit $2 to £1 this week - hurrah!!), Pringle and Muji, and saw teeny tiny and disturbingly orange-skinned Victoria Beckham coming out of Alexander McQueen on Old Bond Street.

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