“Character. Intelligence. Strength. Style. That makes beauty.”
– Diane von Furstenberg
I’m not even going to lie…it was the promise of fried pickles that got me to dinner at Chicago Rib Shack in Clapham.
As a woman with Yankee roots, I have grown increasingly tiresome of the so-called American restaurants in London. Whether it’s “Kentucky Fried Chicken” or the “Tinseltown Diner”, it all translates to bland bland bland.
Chicago Rib Shack is a happy exception. From its location (an expertly-lit underpass in Clapham) to its staff (refreshingly chatty and helpful), it stands out from the gimmicky pack.
With one of my favourite Americans in tow, we settled into a booth and embarked on one hell of a feast. To start, we ordered a wooden slab of starters; mediocre mac & cheese bites (the accompanying tomato jam was necessary), incredible little pulled pork spring rolls (with pickled cabbage and Scotch bannet sauce), and some seriously moreish spicy chicken wings (with blue cheese and celery).
Of course, our eyes were on the barbecue-coated prize. For the main event we chose to share the Ribshack Top 4 without realising it was probably enough meat for four…or forty. The spread included baby back, belly and beef ribs (HEAVEN) with a side of pulled pork.
We paired the aforementioned binge with a Tommy’s Margarita (a dangerous mix of El Jimador tequila, lime, and agave) and Raspberry Hard Lemonade (Haymans Old Tom gin, raspberries, and homemade lemonade), leaving just enough room for a few nibbles of sweet potato fries and my ultimate guilty pleasure, frickles.
Though there was room for improvement on the cheese and sweet potato front, I would recommend nowhere else in London for a meat feast than Chicago Rib Shack.
If there is one name in the skincare world renowned by celebrities and beauty editors alike, it’s Su-Man – the facialist of Freida Pinto, Joely Richardson. Olga Kurylenko, Juliette Binoche, and many more skinsational beauties.
Last week, I braved the open skies of London and high-tailed it to the Away Spa at W London to finally get my face into her expert hands.
After examining my skin underneath a freehand digital microscope it took all of ten seconds for us to get acquainted, have a giggle, and get me topless.
This is how all great friendships begin.
For the next hour and a half, Su-Man used an experienced combination of Asian wisdom and Western science to completely transform the texture of my skin. Though my skin has always been sensitive and prone to redness, I was completely amazed to see that the more Su-Man worked on my skin the less redness there was. After a deep cleanse and manual impurity extraction, Su-Man moves on to exfoliate, apply a mask, and take a break for a life-changing deep tissue massage of the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, legs and feet.
This alone took the traditional facial experience to an entirely new plane.
To finish, Su-Man applies a combination of her skin care products with each massage stroke repeated 36 times in accordance to the ancient Chinese belief that the number six is lucky and helps lead the individual to a perfect state of health and happiness.
I spent the rest of the day makeup-free without a single insecurity and have enjoyed lifted, purified and energised skin every day since. You can absolutely judge this book by her cover.
(For bookings, contact email@example.com)
Any fellow blogger is sure to empathise with the sheer amount of tech we have to carry around to fulfil our digital duties. For myself, I am often strapped down with a laptop, a sizeable DSLR, and an even more sizeable lens.
In an effort to strip things down for Summer, I have paired up with John Lewis on their tech-friendly Find Your Summer campaign in the hopes of simplifying my image-reliant life.
I have been pleasantly surprised.
My travel-friendly camera of choice – the Canon PowerShot SX710 HS – ticks the majority of my DSLR-loving boxes. What it lacks (the ability to change lens) it makes up for in tech specs.
On first impressions, I thought the camera would be too light and slim to pack a photographic punch but the photos spoke for themselves. The zoom alone – 30x ultrazoom with ultra wide-angle and 60x on ZoomPlus – is extremely sharp, with the camera offering an ‘Advanced Zoom Framing Assist’ button which creates the optimum framing for the moment you’re trying to capture. It quite literally does all the work for you.
The 5-axis intelligent optical Image Stabiliser is really the key to this camera’s success. Without it, crisp and detailed shots in extreme conditions (ie low light, movement, substantial focal lengths) would be an impossibility. With it, you get comparison shots like the ones below.
Additional features include built-in WiFi and social uploads (INSTAGRAM GOLD), full HD video recording (also with image stabilisation), manual & Creative Shot modes (including fisheye!), and a handy pop-up flash (though I have yet to experience the need for it).
The SX710 is not going to make me throw away my SLR but it’s not going to leave my handbag, either.
Though Harrods is one of my most-loved pit stops for all things luxury, my Harrods food explorations have been limited to decadent brunches in Laduree (also known as shopping fuel) and the food hall itself.
This was true, at least, until the department store’s celebrated contemporary Chinese restaurant – Chai Wu – launched an eight-course tasting menu designed to be the “ultimate, extravagant experience for health conscious customers”.
The Ladies Lunch menu, as it’s monikered, is undeniably extravagant.
What started as a glass of champagne alongside delicately steamed XO sauce soy beans quickly segued into lobster & sea bass crystal dumplings which, frankly, I could have devoured an ovrtflowing bamboo steamer of.
Chased with wheatgrass and avocado shooters (fellow green juice addicts will adore this creamy treat), we then moved on to a few increasingly substantial courses. First, a ‘Beauty Bucket‘/slate of teapotted poached Shanghainese chicken in a clear soup with the option of salty collagen jelly followed by crispy, charcoaled salmon marinated in Manuka honey, Shaoxing wine and mandarin. The latter being the irrefutable Chinese quintessence of food porn.
Though pudding came in threes, the earthy green tea fondant took the pun-less cake. Served with milk and collagen ice cream (natch), the incredibly light fondant practically bled antioxidants.
The other ‘puds’ – fruity edible lipsticks and a little candied strawberries & cream delight swimming in champagne – were rather special, themselves. This is a tasting menu not to be missed.
(The menu costs £70 per person and is served from Sunday to Friday, 12pm until 5pm.)