Sunday, 28 June 2015

no no no

I'm extremely excited about Beirut's new record (their first in four years), No No No, which is due for release in early September. Listen to the title track below. It's all brass flourishes and skittering percussion - very jaunty.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

two summer weekends

We've had a couple of extremely fun weekends recently, I must admit. At the end of May, D. and I spent two nights in the Basque Country celebrating our chef friend James's wedding. Arriving in Bilbao early on a Friday morning, we headed straight to the Guggenheim. We couldn't fail to be impressed by the smooth curves of the building glimmering in the early morning Spanish sun.

Excited about giving Basque food a whirl, we set off in search of lunch. James had told us about an excellent nearby restaurant months ago, serving incredible local food cooked on a firewood grill. He also advised us to book well in advance. We forgot all about this of course and simply turned up at 1pm with hungry stomachs and hopeful smiles. Luckily we were given a table in a corner of the old farmhouse building in which the restaurant is housed. The place is called Asador Etxebarri, and it's as difficult to pronounce as it is to locate among the mountains.

Mega prawns! The best in my life perhaps. Too delicious.

We enjoyed fifteen good courses over several hours and spent the rest of the afternoon wandering through the Basque countryside - stopping off by rivers, laying down in fields, that sort of thing. We'd had quite a bit of wine.

The wedding itself took place on Saturday in the charming fishing village of Getaria, about an hour or so from Bilbao. We spent a bit of time exploring the town beforehand - a fiesta was taking place - kids were lining the streets playing accordions and recorders whilst grandparents sat in plastic chairs in front of the shops selling ice cream and local wine. It was all very lovely. The wedding was a total blast and lasted from noon until 2am. Lots of dancing and gin and tortilla on sticks.

Feeling a little worse for wear on Sunday morning, D. and I headed down to the beach first thing, knowing that a healthy blast of seawater would probably help to mend our heads. I very much wanted to rent a bright yellow pedalo. We took one out - D. splashed around in the water and I lounged about on board. In the afternoon we met the rest of the wedding party for pintxos (Basque tapas) and ice cream, and were back in our beds in London by 9pm, well fed and exhausted after a delightful weekend.

The following weekend, I flew out to meet D., our friend Charlotte and her sister in the south of France. D. and Charlotte had been in situ for a week already, but (sadly) I was only staying for a single night. We took the ferry across the bay to St Tropez for lunch - giant artichokes and steak tartare. The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming in turquoise waters and dozing on the beach. It was a perfect day.

The fabulously bright red exterior of Sénéquier in St Tropez. (Flashbacks to our trip in 2012!)

Charlotte by the marina at dusk, looking very beautiful.

On Sunday we drove east to the Medieval town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. We'd come to check out La Colombe d'Or and make a booking for supper. I've never loved a hotel or restaurant's vibe more, I don't think. The whole place was just... sublime.

Post-lunch ice cream, Provence-style.

We tried to pay a visit the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence in the afternoon (built and decorated under a plan devised by Matisse), but it was closed. Such a shame! I managed to sneak a photograph through the gates; this colour scheme of teal, yellow and pink made my eyes pop, in a good way. Happily we managed to make time for a trip to the nearby Fondation Maeght - I enjoyed it very much and bought bundles of old posters which are now all with my framer.

The menu at La Colombe d'Or. I mean, have you ever seen a more fantastic or aesthetically pleasing menu? I'm in love. Unfortunately I had to pack up my things and leave halfway through our supper in order to catch my plane, and a very boring delay meant that I wasn't in bed until 4am, but I can't complain, I'd had another wonderful summer weekend.