Monday, 30 August 2010

FOOD - Porters Wine Bar in Hastings

Dinner at Porters, Hastings
Steak served on a 'hot rock'

I used to go to Porters Wine bar quite a bit but after a couple of bad meals I started to steer clear. This was a good few years ago and I've been back twice recently and have been really impressed with the food.

I've tried their mussels - delicious, the plaice - scrummy, and the Moroccan tagine dish - super flavoursome. Another of the menu highlights is the fillet steak which comes out on a 'hot rock' so you can finish it off exactly the way you like it and choose your own seasoning too. The fish is local and freshly caught just minutes away in the fishing area of Hastings Old Town.

In the summer it's lovely to sit out in the garden and during weekends the bar area quite often has live music too. The only downside is that the service definitely slides with very large parties as they have a habit of serving smaller tables first.

I popped back for lunch on another occasion and had the jerk chicken salad. It took a while to arrive (they were pretty busy) but when it did it was delicious and only cost about a fiver. A much better meal than you could get from most other local restaurants at the price.

So if you're in Hastings any time soon, check out Porters.

Dinner at Porters, Hastings
Moroccan lamb

Dinner at Porters, Hastings
Chicken and chips

Dinner at Porters, Hastings
Jerk chicken

Dinner at Porters, Hastings

Thursday, 26 August 2010

BEDROOM - Ben de Lisi Bargain

 Ben de Lisi bed linen

Last week I had my sisters to stay and I realised that since moving into my new pad, there's no spare bed and not so much as a spare blanket to offer my guests. It was time I did something about it so I headed to my closest Debenhams and decided to put the sale to good use.

I picked up some sheets and a double quilt, but best of all was a fab Ben de Lisi bed linen set reduced from £40 to £20. Having not bought bedding for a while it surprised me just how much it can set you back. Seeing as this was just an extra set for guests that wasn't going to be used very often, the last thing I wanted to do was spend a fortune on it.

Next on my shopping list is a chair or a storage bench. Hoping to find those in a sale too, I just can't help myself. I'm a sucker for a bargain and there are Bank holiday offers on homeware until Monday too. Hurrah!

The bed set pictures is Shimmy by Ben de Lisi and if you're quick you might get it while stocks last.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

KITCHENS - IKEA Future Kitchen Debate

I was invited to a debate on the future of kitchens hosted by IKEA and held at the Barbican. You can read a bit more about the debate and the trends discussed over on my blog post but here I thought I'd show you some of the kitchen concepts that IKEA came up with that are envisaged to satisfy the needs of a consumer in 2040.

In essence it's about 3 main areas. A kitchen that's natural and eco-friendly, one that's technologically advanced and finally one that meets our emotional needs. The increased stress and strain of our lives with constant interruptions from our communication devices and a growing scarcity of resources means our future kitchen needs to be super-savvy.

My dream kitchen of the future would be one that helps me cook healthy food and minimises waste. Any tools and gadgets that IKEA can create for that end would be worth buying in my eyes. I suppose I'll have to wait 30 years before I see if that's a possibility but we are definitely already seeing our kitchens get more and more intelligent.

Click on each of the images to read the text...

Sunday, 15 August 2010

ART - The Surreal House at The Barbican

The Surreal House

Last Thursday evening I went to a debate at the Barbican hosted by IKEA and my invite gave me entry to the Surreal House art exhibition taking place there.

Firstly it was nice to wander round later in the evening than I usually would at a gallery but when it comes to surrealism Salvador Dali is my main point of reference. I used to visit Spain a lot and I've been to the Dali museum there and his wife's home too. There was a lot more than Dali in the exhibition of course which opened my eyes to other sorts of surreal art including film, photography and performance.

The space has been transformed into a maze of a house with rooms and roof-like slopes and then upstairs, balconies that overlook the floors below.There are pieces which inspire and intrigue and others which didn't really hold my attention.

I was transfixed however by the gentleman doing a reading of a Geoff Cox book to accompanying music, it was quite haunting. The various films being shown varied in quality in my opinion, although the Buster Keaton ones were quite fun to watch.One of my favourite pieces though was Concert for Anarchy by Rebecca Horn, the skill and patience required in putting it together were obvious.

The Surreal House

I wandered round the exhibition with another delegate of the IKEA debate and we did have quite similar ideas on art - although she'd clearly studied it to a higher level than I had. Art is such a personal thing, especially in surrealism where it's not always so clear cut.

I like art that does any of 3 things:
  1. Makes me wonder how on earth it was done or feel in awe of the skill or thought that has gone into a piece.
  2. Is so figuratively accomplished that eyes on a person appear to be real or you could imagine reaching out and touching an object from within a painting.
  3. Within sculpture, if something has a texture that calls out to be touched I tend to love it.
But art tends not to be displayed without commentary, certainly not modern art. The artist increasingly provides an explanation for the art and this is where I get fussy. I want the explanation to be about the thought process, the personal journey or feelings of the artist. What I don't want to read is some high brow concept with no relation to the actual art. Metaphors are fine if they can be tied in some way to what I'm looking at. Abstract is fine, but for me I want to know about the person who created the art just something that makes me understand or at least feel as if I understand it.

We are all different though and different things appeal to us. For me, surreal art is fascinating but I wouldn't want to hang much of it on my wall.

DRINK - Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc

I was offered an opportunity to review a bottle of wine, the Villa Maria Private Bin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2010, and as white wine is my vino of choice I jumped at the chance. I took it round to a friend's house after she offered to cook dinner and we gave it a testing.

I'm not much of a connoisseur when it comes to wine so I'll let you know what the winemaker says and then tell you what I thought of it...

"This powerful Sauvignon Blanc is bursting with a myriad of flavours including gooseberry, passionfruit, fresh citrus, melon and nettle dominant herbaceous aromas. The wine has an enticing palate with layers of juicy flavours, intensity and concentration, finishing with a refreshing crisp, clean line of audacity".

The fruitiness was definitely the thing that stood out about this wine and there was no bitterness or sharp after taste that I think separates the good from the bad when it comes to white wine. Usually I'm a chardonnay girl but this wine was just perfect for a girly evening or to have with a nice emal. It's suggested that you team it with seasonal vegetables and chicken, which we did - although it was in the form of a Thai chicken curry. Probably not quite right, but the two went together well in my opinion. I definitely tasted the melon and passionfruit but can't say as I could identify the nettle-dominant, herbaceous aromas - my palette isn't quite that accomplished!

The alcoholic strength of this bottle is a pretty powerful 13.5%. I'd usually prefer something slightly less strong so had to be sure to take smaller sips. It's all too easy when wine tastes so nice and is easy to drink to guzzle it down too quickly. We also tried it with a drop of lemonade to make a slightly more refreshing spritzer and it worked well like that as well.

I would definitely look for this bottle on the supermarket shelf when I go shopping next. Find out more about the winemaker at the Villa Maria website.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

KITCHEN - Fun Farmyard Chopping Boards

Introducing a new range of designer chopping and serving boards which are guaranteed to make you smile. 'Down on the Farm' is a collection of solid beech chopping boards with designs that draw on vintage animal shapes to give each board a unique personality.

Boards are individually boxed on a bed of straw. Made by hand from selected, sustainable Beech, sealed with demineralised oil for protection. “All our boards are free from the chemicals and hormones that can react badly with food, often found in plastic boards. They are ‘green’ and gorgeous looking.” they tell me.

Meet the Cast: Carmen the Sheep, Mildred the Hen, Horace the Pig, Bird in the Tree and Darcey the Cow. How cute!

Available at

Saturday, 7 August 2010

VIDEO - Daisy Lowe Explores a Spitalfields Georgian House

Join Daisy Lowe as she explores an 18th century Georgian house in the heart of Spitalfields, musing on the music she likes, her idols and what inspires her. I love the house and I really like Daisy too, she talks sense about style. 

The house itself is a bit of a maze with nooks and carrnies to be discovered around every corner. It reminds me of my parent's house which has lots of quirky details that don't seem to serve any specific purpose.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

EVENT - Feeling Arty? Draw With Lazy Oaf

Lazy Oaf's Let's Face It event taking over Tate Modern's Turbine Hall this Sunday 8th August from 11am-5pm. Members of the public are invited to come along and draw their own self portraits on the walls of Tate Modern. They will be covering a 7m wall with dozens of colourful pages ready to be drawn into so it shall be a right visual feast.

There will be live drawing at various intervals throughout the day from established artists Zeroten, Joe Baglow and Ian Stevenson.