• Sweet things – The Art of Genoese Confectionery

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    Last weekend I pretty much had the perfect Saturday. I spent the morning in Petersham Nurseries, one of my favourite London haunts. Petersham is such a beautiful and inspiring place, it’s like stumbling upon a perfect secret world. I dream of getting married in the just perfectly bucolic rustic surroundings. Yes it’s that fabulous.

    Anyway back to the sweets. We began with an insightful introduction into Genoa’s long tradition in sugar trading and the Romanengo family who have been conserving fruits and flowers since 1780 and whose confectionery we would be experiencing.

    After this we were given a demonstration of icing candied fruits and sweets and making chocolate truffles. Mouth watering. We indulged ourselves with Marron Creams, Marron Glaces, Mostarda di frutta with Formaggio Capretta, Fondant Lingue & Torronetti amongst other delectable Romanengo products and then we had lunch…Yes after all that gorging we had lunch which was heralded with the arrival of Prosecco with Romanego Rose syrup. Made simply from roses, sugar and lemon. Now this is an elixir to have in your life.

    Lunch was prepared by the nurseries Head Chef Skye Gyngell, being vegetarian I didn’t have the Quail which looked amazing but had a fabulous Robiola which is an Italian cheese made with Goats, Sheeps and cows milk. The lunch was an education in how these sweet-toothed delicacies can be used in savoury dishes, and to great effect. I have been smearing Rose Petal Preserve on pretty much everything ever since. Divine!

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    The sweetest Play-doh ever

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    A freshly made chocolate truffle. The Romanengo chocolate machine dates from 1860. Pretty impressive.

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    Hands down the best chocolate packaging ever.

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    The divine Rose Jamoil2

    This is a Nectar of the Gods…It tastes like Rose breath. Delicious in champagne for those like me who can’t drink it plain

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    Lunch for the Carnivores. Much finger licking.

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    Robiola. I now can’t live without this. Thanks Skye!

  • Louis Vuitton Bond Street Windows – My Kind Of Petting Zoo

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    Today the new windows for the brand spanking Louis Vuitton Bond Street store were unveiled. Designed by the extraordinarily talented Faye McLoud and curated by Katie Grand. There are so many wonderful elements. Nestling in a frame of signature Gold Monogram mesh is the most delightful whimsical installation. Beautiful solemn bell jars containing little animals fashioned out of Louis Vuitton accessories. Adorable! The child in me wants to reach through the window and take the lot home.

    Not being greedy I’ll settle for just a few. My Smash and Grab list in order of preference are:

    1. The Frog

    2. The Owl

    3. The Hare.

    Any partners in Crime?

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    Froggy Style

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    rabbit

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    Ginormous giraffe. Looks like taxidermy, it’s not. Cleverer still.

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    The studded giraffe feet. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all animals had feet like this? Even if  just for special occasions…

  • Flights Of Fancy

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    “In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.”  ~Aaron Rose

    Inspired by a chandelier I saw in Paris, with a peacock perched on one of it’s crystal arms (so effortlessly louche) I have had the recent notion of putting taxidermy birds in Chandeliers for a party. I love the idea of an array of birds delicately dotted on the lights as if poised for flight.

    Here is a white dove that I placed in my bedroom chandelier, it totally belongs, like an ethereal extension of the light. It was wonderful to wake up to. Parties, bedrooms, do try this at home…

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  • A Weekend of Period Sugarwork and Confectionery – Oh My!

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    Pastillage table Markers for Dita Von Teese made by the talented cake designer Margaret Braun

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    Pastillage table Markers for Dasha Zhukova’s Kova & T dinner in London

    The food historian Ivan Day is one of the most inspiring and informative people I have ever met. I am entranced with his recreations of historic tables and find his teachings on period food an endless fascination.

    Last weekend I went on my second Historic food course. We were shown how to make syllabubs, trifles, a Tudor Marchpane, comfits and pippin knots in Ivan’s kitchen which is a culinary alladins cave complete with an incredible array of antique Utensils.

    Lots of fun to be had including making Ice cream in the garden with a Georgian ice cream maker. Truly the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever tasted.

    Period sugar work and confectionery is something that I adore. The only time I truly wish to travel back in time is when I see the incredible sugar confections that decorated the tables of Royalty in the Rococo age. The tables were works of art, the sugar sculptures were made with the definition and detail that only a gifted artist could create. I have borrowed some of these opulent edible ideas and used them on table dressing for my own events. Nothing as spectacular as Ivan’s recreations but I live in hope…someday I will get a spectacular commission and Ivan, in- between creating dazzling museum displays and educating us on the history of food will finally give in and create a table that truly fulfills all my nostalgic notions.

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    A selection of confectionery we made at the weekend

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    The sort of kitchen equipment I’d trade my Moulinex for

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    A Pippin knot made from nothing but apple and sugar

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    Printing the Pippin paste

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    And here it is!

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    The moulds are so beautiful

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    Making a sugar pheasant

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    Antique sugar craft tools made from Ivory

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    More gorgeous implements

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    A selection that includes comfits, a version of hundreds and thousands that literally takes hundreds and thousands of hours to make!

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    Sugar sculpture is a precise art. The Spirit level is an essential tool.

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    The making of a Tazza

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    Tazza in construction

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    And finally the finished Tazza. This is hours and hours of work

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    Lunch being cooked in front of an open fire. Magical

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    You can eat this… or you can keep it for about twenty years. Not exactly throwaway

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    A monogrammed waffle maker… when a plain waffle just won’t do

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    A Georgian Ice cream making device . Lot’s of stirring, lot’s of Ice and the MOST delicious ice cream ever!

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    Ginger Ice cream made with an Ice cream mould . Delicious and stunning to look at the way I like my food


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    One of Ivan’s curious books. This is secrets for young ladies. We all need to know how to order a silk -worm …

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    …and remove freckles!

    http://www.historicfood.com/

    http://margaretbraun.com/

  • Waterford Crystal

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    Riley is partial to drinking his water from Waterford Crystal too…

    Being Irish and having a particular love for handcrafted objects with more than a hint of heritage, I have a very soft spot for Waterford crystal. Founded in 1783, it’s a perfect fit. I love using crystal and don’t  believe in saving it up for special occasions. I personally  love using the most spectacular cut crystal goblets for my everyday water. It’s all about transforming the mundane…and light. Reflecting, chaneling and conducting light and that is what cut crystal does so wonderfully. I believe it’s worth investing in and love the idea of my glassware being used generation after generation. My Household heirlooms if you like.

    I was saddened when the original Waterford crystal factory shut recently but feel privileged to have seen first hand the original factory when I worked on a project there last year. From the hand drawn felt tip pen markings on the glass to the wonderfully detailed sketches for each piece it was truly remarkable to see how much went into each object. I had the ultimate joy in creating my fantasy dining table setting entirely from Waterford crystal and Wedgwood china (another favourite). I pulled everything I could from the archives and showroom floor…From majestic trophies and gigantic punchbowls to tiny delicate glass slippers and dainty perfume bottles. A very upmarket supermarket sweep. The good news is that Waterford Crystal will reopen in June and to that I will raise my most exquisite cut glass!

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    The original machines

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    Love the religious sea shell shrine  overlooking the factory floor

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    The hand drawn illustrations are so pretty ……

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    As are the computerized ones

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    Felt tips markings to show where the crystal gets cut. What a great still life

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    crystal stetson anyone?

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    A glass slipper. Cinderella moment

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    This was the recycling bin. The kind of recycling bin I like…

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    We fashioned the most beautiful table runner from crystal trays all placed together

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    The start of the Crystal sweep!

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    crystal on crystal….It gets addictive.

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    Nearly finished

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    And dinner in the reflection of the most wonderful chandelier. Nice.

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