© The Berkeley
Haute-cookies at the Berkeley hotel in London.
I’ll be blogging this week about discoveries from my recent eight-day trip to London. The city was buzzing with pop-up restaurant/design projects, ambitious new hotels and hip new British comfort food joints. One of my favorite finds was at the Berkeley hotel, which just introduced the fall/winter collection of its super-popular Prêt-à-Portea (the menu changes every six months to reflect the new fashion season). This haute-couture-inspired tea service features edible designs inspired by Christian Lacroix, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. Adorable confections include a Roger Vivier chocolate boot cookie, a Mulberry "Bayswater" white-chocolate-and-coconut-truffle "it" bag and a cinnamon Burberry Prorsum trench-coat cookie with a caramel belt and buttons. All are served on Paul Smith china alongside a proper cup of English tea.
The restaurant at the Crown Inn.
Superhip Brit designer Ilse Crawford is constantly innovating. Her latest obsession is reinventing the idea of the coaching inn, which offered travelers in the mid-17th century a place to eat and sleep. Last year I stayed at her first such property, the Olde Belle, outside of London in Hurley. And I just spent the weekend at her second, the Crown Inn, about 40 minutes outside London in Amersham. Crawford has modernized the bed-and-breakfast, combining a cozy place to spend the night with an enticing, comfortable restaurant that's perfect for having a cocktail or a superfresh, farm-to-table dinner. Imagine if New York City's Spotted Pig gastropub added rooms upstairs—that's basically the Crown. It features incredible design juxtaposing the modern (flat-screen TVs and funky white-fur throws for the rocking chairs) and the historic (Room 12 has a section of hand-painted wall dating back to the 1500s), with smart touches like Aesop body soaps and Welsh wool blankets. Rosie Sykes and chef Mark Bristow are in charge of the food and make a satisfying breakfast spread for guests that includes homemade breads and sesame-hazelnut granola, chocolate muffins, eggs and hash. The chalkboard dinner menu changes daily, and some regulars convinced me to try the hearty beef-and-ale pie with a pint of local hard cider. I'm hoping Crawford brings the concept to the U.S. next.
Currently showing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art: “May Your Glass Be Ever Full: Drinking in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Europe,” featuring glassware like a crystal goblet from 1745 engraved with the words, “The Hell Fire Club.” Here, our own glassware guide with excellent cocktails to serve in each type of glass:
• Coupe: 10 superb cocktails for the coupe like the margarita-like Flor de Jalisco and the grapefruity Hemingway Daiquiri
• Rocks: 10 outstanding cocktails for the rocks glass like the Manzarita, a tequila smash prepared with apple juice and cinnamon (pictured), and the citrusy Hibiscus Petal
• Highball: 10 terrific cocktails for the highball like the almond-flavored Fog Cutter, a classic tiki drink, and El Gusano Rojo, prepared with ginger beer and mezcal
• Martini: 10 exceptional cocktails for the martini glass like the classic martini and the lemon-basil martini
• Flute: 7 great cocktails for the flute like the Americana, prepared with Champagne, bourbon and sliced peaches, and the minty Champagne mojito
Tonight at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art: a discussion on “From the Spoon to the City,” the current exhibition of 20th century design pieces named after Italian architect Ernesto Rogers’ famous declaration that he wanted to design everything from “a spoon to a city.” Our own way to honor the spoon is through these excellent stocks, stews, and chili recipes:
• Stews: 15 hearty stews like a Catalan chickpea stew with spinach and chorizo (pictured), a sweet and tangy Middle Eastern lamb-and-eggplant stew, and Yucatán pork stew with pleasantly bitter ancho chiles and lime juice
• Stocks: 3 versatile stocks to give a flavor boost to soups like Mario Batali’s chicken stock (excellent in a lentil and linguine soup), rich beef stock (superb in a Hungarian beef soup), and oregano-and-thyme-flavored vegetable stock (terrific in a 30-minute minestrone)
• Chili Recipes: 7 outstanding chili recipes like pork cheek and black-eyed pea chili, turkey chili with hominy, and fragrant, cumin-accented chili