Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Days of leisure # 2

M has had this week off, so we have been gallivanting around town together while Little Planet is with her childminders. On Monday, we dropped Little Planet off at 8.30am, then headed into central London on the Tube...
  • We strolled through Russell Square to Soho, where we breakfasted on Monmouth coffee and Chelsea buns generously studded with sweet currants at Fernandez & Wells. It felt quite decadent leisurely partaking of breakfast early on a Monday morning while media workers rushed in and out of the cafe grasping their takeaway coffees before work

  • At the National Portrait Gallery, we viewed the Gerhard Richter Portraits exhibition (photo above). I had not seen much of the work on show, but I was blown away by the fleeting brushwork and found refreshing the artist's insistence that "I don't think the painter need either see or know the sitter. A portrait must not express anything of the sitter's 'soul', essence or character". He is content simply to paint what can be seen on the surface

  • After a quick browse of new fiction books at Hatchards on Piccadilly, we caught the Kuniyoshi show at the Royal Academy (photo below). Looking at the prints of this prolific and masterful nineteenth century Japanese print artist, I was struck by how much contemporary manga and anime artists are rooted in the print traditions of Japan's past

  • We popped into Lina Stores to buy pumpkin and ricotta tortellini for the night's dinner

  • At Bar Shan, in Soho, we lunched on a variety of Xi'an and Sichuan delights: 5 spiced beef salad with fresh coriander and garlic, lotus leaf steamed buns with beancurd and vegetables, pork and chive dumplings, prawn and water chestnut dumplings, Beijing noodles with minced pork sauce and vegetables, and vegetable guotie or fried dumplings. Each dish was delicately balanced and very fresh tasting. The service was also both attentive and informative. Like the Korean restaurant Bi-won, I can see myself popping in here on a regular basis for lunch

  • We spent another couple of hours shopping - Chinese (Sichuan) and Japanese (pub food) cookbooks from Foyles, a baby toothbrush from Boots the Chemist on Tottenham Court Road, storage boxes and wine glasses from Heals, and lampshades from Habitat - before heading back home to fix our bedroom curtains then collect Little Planet at 5.45pm
We spent Tuesday closer to home, in Islington...
  • We browsed bath suites and fittings at Aston Matthews and Bathstore, before realising that we do not need to actually change our existing bath suite, which is of very good quality - we simply need to spruce it up a bit, re-tile the bathroom and re-paint it

  • In our favourite baby clothing store, Green Baby, we bought some colourful t-shirts for Little Planet

  • We bought New Zealand Pinot noir and Ribera del Duero wines from Oddbins, parenting, photography and gossip magazines from Borders, and red snapper and samphire from the excellent and enthusiastic Steve Hatt Fishmongers

  • Then we lunched at Masala Zone: bhel puri and aloo tiki chaat to start, then kadhai paneer and Malabar green chicken curries for mains, all washed down with a spicy masala Cola (Coca Cola with spices, crushed mint and lemon - very delicious and refreshing). Though it is a chain, I like eating at Masala Zone because the food is still fresh, light and flavourful

  • For dessert, we crossed the road to the always busy Ottolenghi. M devoured a chocolate and raspberry tart with his coffee, and I demolished a lemon and raspberry cupcake with mine

  • Every where we go, we talk about Little Planet - we can't help ourselves, we are boring parents! - thinking that we cannot wait to take her here and take her there, when she is old enough to appreciate and enjoy it all. We certainly hope she becomes a foodie like her parents, though at the moment she is generally non-plussed by food

  • We returned home and were able to spend a good hour or so in our sunny garden before collecting Little Planet at 5.45pm

  • After we bathed her and put her to bed at 7pm, M pan-fried the red snapper with lemon, garlic and capers, and served it with steamed asparagus and samphire tossed in olive oil, black sesame seeds and garlic
M stayed at home this Wednesday morning while I dropped Little Planet off with her childminders at 8.30am...
  • I headed to Holborn where I got my hair cut and treated at the Aveda Institute in preparation for my return to work tomorrow
  • At 11am, M joined me and we walked over to Lambs Conduit Street, which has a great selection of small, independent clothes stores and cafes. M looked at jackets in Oliver Spencer and I bought several Humanoid tops at Folk
  • We lunched at Life in Old Street. M had a tempura set and I had a sushi set
  • Then we walked around Hoxton for a bit before returning home to collect Little Planet
  • Tonight, we're having spaghetti with artichokes, lemon and garlic
And that's it. M still has another two days off work. But I return to work after a year off... tomorrow! One era ends, another begins.

See you on the other side!


WA said...

Good luck PH

The Koshy Mostafas said...

Hope you had a great first day back!

Olivia said...

Ah, good old Hatchards, Foyles, Heals and Habitat!

You certainly do cram it in on the weekends.

LP WILL be a foodie like you - because you introduce her early, it is part of your essence to appreciate and enjoy life and its special details. She will absorb this. Trust me, I did....

Olivia said...

P.S. I hope you had a good first week back, and that the transition was not too hard.