Luck of the Irish

 

I’m usually pretty clueless with wedding anniversary presents as it’s overshadowed by our daughter’s birthday a couple of days before.

But shortly before this year’s (back in late September), I was in County Waterford, Ireland on a travel shoot for Conde Nast Traveller. The final location on the last day was Ardmore, a lovely little seaside village. This was where I stumbled upon Ardmore Pottery & Gallery run by the charming Mary Lincoln.

The stars had clearly aligned. It was our ninth anniversary – for which the traditional present was pottery. I was quickly drawn to the simple forms of Mary’s green pottery which was reminiscent of the malachite colour of copper roofs. She explained that the glaze was made from copper, a local metal that used to be mined nearby. It’s this mining heritage that gives rise to the name Copper Coast for the UNESCO Geopark to the east.

Within ten minutes I had a card, and a lovely cup and bowl gift-wrapped (my wife’s a breakfast cup kinda girl, and I’m a coffee bowl kinda guy). A leisurely browse around the wares of the other Irish craftworkers in stock and I was soon on the road to Cork for the flight home. Job done!

The gentle charm of Ardmore belies some real gems such as the White Horses restaurant run by the three Flavin sisters and the astonishing Michelin-starred House Restaurant. I’d definitely consider a return holiday there, and Mary even rents out a charming wooden chalet overlooking the sea, called Mullarkey’s

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London’s burning…

A bit behind on this, but in the latest issue of KFH Completely London magazine is a feature I shot on three of London’s hottest chefs who aren’t afraid to use flame, smoke and spicy heat to light up their dishes.

A whistle-stop round of portraits featuring Ben Tish of Ember Yard, Scott Hallsworth of Kurobuta, and Tom Sellers of Restaurant Story

Fire in the hold – enjoy!

Best foot forward

Yiannis (L), Harry (centre), Gerry (R) Demopoulos, directors of Tower London

It’s not every day I get to shoot so close to home for Drapers Magazine. In the current issue, I photographed the father (Harry) and sons (Yiannis and Gerry) team behind Tower London at their latest store in Wood Green.

Recent winners of the 2014 Drapers Footwear & Accessories Awards Independent Retailer of the Year, they proudly showed off their new concept store and explained the secret to their success. Despite heavy competition from the big chains, doom and gloom on the high street and online price slashing, their key has been the resurgence of the independent sector and good old-fashioned personal service.

The family-run business may only be small at the moment, but it’s ambitious and looking to open many more stores over the coming years, with the next one due on Brick Lane in 2015.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Some outtakes from a recent shoot at Lyle’s in Shoreditch for the latest issue of Caffeine.

While the restaurant’s food has been widely praised, Lyle’s also pays a great deal of attention to their coffee. The all-day coffee bar operation starts from 8.00am as a separate yet integral part of the restaurant. It’s a slick and precise affair run by James Low (not the James Lowe behind the kitchen) and features timers, scales and dedicated hot water taps at two specific temperatures for tea and coffee.

Together with familiar Square Mile, Low also features less well known beans such as Koppi and Belleville, which will change regularly alongside the menu and wine list. And his choice of tea is equally discerning, featuring single-estate, small batch leaves from Lalani.

So, if you’ve been tempted to Lyle’s by the restaurant reviews, just don’t forget about the coffee.

The new ‘new thing’

A last minute job last week for Time Out took me down the road on the bus to a residential pocket of North London flanked by Stoke Newington, Highbury and Cannonbury.

In an area not known for it’s destination dining, Primeur is resolutely a neighbourhood restaurant with its quirky no-phone, in-person only bookings policy.

Although it had only been open a couple of weeks, it already had the assured feel of a local favourite. A couple of early walk-ins dropped by on the way home for a glass of wine and couple of plates. The welcoming banter gave them away as regulars already.

After a quiet start, it was anything but by about 8.30pm. It seemed like someone had rung the dinner bell outside – the place was full and the kitchen slammed with orders.

The food is ‘honest’ and seasonal, matched by an ever changing wine list from its extensive cellar. In an interview, chef, David Gingell has described the restaurant ‘like a visit to your grandmother’s house for a great dinner.’

So the ‘new thing’ seems to be just old-fashioned good times.

Nifty Fifty

The most recent issue of Observer Food Monthly was a great way to reflect on some of the amazing places and people I’ve met through work that have also made it into the The OFM 50, 2014

Here’s just a handful:

#19: High-rise dining, and the view from Sushisamba on the 38th floor of Heron Tower

#21: Claude Bosi’s power lunch at Hibiscus

#24: Aged basmati rice from Arun Kapil’s Green Saffron

#30: Wild Muntjac biryani at Gymkhana

#36: Mayfields and their artful dishes such as octopus, smoked eel dashi, and green asparagus

#39: Gochuchang, here with radishes and sesame at The Clove Club

#49: Alessandro Palazzi at Dukes Bar

A new chapter


Catching up on another recent project, online and PR work has included the updated website of Chapter One.

Although located in Locksbottom, Kent, it’s just 15 minutes by train out from London Bridge. As such, Chapter One falls under the radar of more shouty Michelin-starred restaurants in the capital.

And that’s a real shame because it excels at innovative cooking served up with finesse and grace. Add to that very reasonable pricing and a relaxed yet efficient atmosphere, and it makes for a great day out.

It’s a real testament to chef/patron, Andy McLeish who’s one of the most down-to-earth yet inspirational chefs I’ve met.