Despite our revolt against George III, Britain has never really lost its hold on Americans. We’re smitten with its royals, captivated with its history and enlightened by its literature.
And when we travel, we’re stimulated by its rich cultural legacy … yet we feel right at home. This affinity was the rich inspiration for one of our Master Suite collections: the London Townhouse.
Beyond its lofty cathedrals and regal palaces, London is one of the world’s most bustling and cosmopolitan cities. If you only have a single day in London, we say spend it in Soho. Wandering its quiet maze of streets, you’ll discover the international esprit that makes this city’s present as great as its past.
Arrive early to stake out a counter stool at the tiny Koya Bar (50 Frith St.). With just 25 seats, this long, narrow diner feels surprisingly spacious. You can order a standard Japanese morning meal – grilled fish, miso soup, rice and pickles, but the steaming bowl of English Breakfast udon is the real draw. Topped with fried egg, bacon and shiitake mushrooms, this sublime dish is sure to clear away any lingering jet lag.
Lose yourself for an hour or so at Foyles (107 Charing Cross Road), London’s best-known bookshop. Its stylish new home is just a few doors down – but light years away – from the beloved old space. Packed with as many as 500,000 books on four light-flooded floors, the store also hosts book signings, literary events and art exhibits.
Venture back outside and meander over to Berwick Street, notable for its vintage vinyl stores, premier fabric shops and one of London’s oldest street markets.
Dating back to the 1800s, the fruit and vegetable market is a true gem … alive with a colorful array of merchants, fashionistas, oddballs and tourists. Lunchtime is a lively scene, and if you’ve tarried long enough to be there then, you’ll want to stop at Pizza Pilgrims, a pair of dough-spinning brothers who dish out tasty Italian pies from the back of a van.
Amble at will. You’ll want to walk off the street food because it’s time for a real lunch at The French House (49 Dean St.), a friendly Soho pub that has fed bohemians, intellectuals and revolutionaries since 1910. The pub fare is standard, but you can enjoy it with a wide selection of affordably priced half-pints and wines by the glass. Just be sure to tuck your smartphone away. The pub has a strict no music, no machines, no television and no mobile phones rule that fosters good old-fashioned – and often robust – conversation.
Home to seven major theaters, Soho is the place to catch a great show. The theater scene here rivals Broadway – Miss Saigon, Evita, Once, The Commitments, Thriller Live and more. Pick up discounted matinee tickets (sometimes as much as half price) the day of the show at the official Society of London Theatre ticket booth at Leicester Square. Hint: Look for the prominent tkts sign to be sure you’re at the right booth. Apart from the show, the theaters themselves are works of art, with carved mahogany panels, scarlet furnishings and plush boxes.
After the show, enjoy a late afternoon pick-me-up at Choccywoccydoodah (30-32 Foubert’s Place). Downstairs, marvel at the handcarved chocolates and jaw-dropping cakes, artistically adorned with teapots, cherubs, doves, unicorns, skulls and more. Then head upstairs to the lavishly decorated Bar du Chocolat, where you can savor a diminutive cup of hot chocolate and a generous slice of cake. Hint: while the chocolate cake is decadent, the ginger one is divine.
If you have more time, Soho comes alive after dark. Catch a top-notch live gig at the renowned Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club (47 Frith St.). Open since 1959, this intimate venue is the perfect place to sip a rye whisky cocktail while soaking up some real jazz heritage.
Embracing the past and immersed in the present, London manages to feel approachable. And its distinct neighborhoods – such as Soho – make it even more so. If you only had a day in London, tell us how you’d spend it. What’s your perfect day in London?
While food – and the chefs who prepare it – reign as the artisanal masters of the kitchen, a new contender is emerging. It’s handcrafted dinnerware.
After years of using pristine white china as the canvas for presenting their culinary achievements, cooks – from the home gourmet to the celebrity chef – are now favoring colorful handcrafted dinnerware.
The tablescape has always been a part of the dining experience, but the trend toward more rustic place settings is evidence that the farm-to-table movement is casting an even wider net. Diners are interested in provenance, not just of their food and wine, but also of their plate. And dinnerware with more color and texture dovetails perfectly with this sort of simple, authentic cooking.
Our Vigneto collection, for example, is both substantial and vivid. Each earthenware piece is molded from clay from the hills of Umbria, an Italian region renowned for its high-end ceramics. Inspired by the luscious colors of the landscape, artisans paint its timeless grapevine motif in intricate detail, from leaves and stems to the fruit itself.
The nights are getting longer, and there’s a lingering chill in the air. We’re drawn to the kitchen, compelled by nature to make a pot of aromatic stew, uncork a full-bodied red and settle in.
So first, open that bottle of wine. Perhaps a robust varietal such as the Raymond Vineyards Prodigal Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, North Coast California. This sumptuous Cab, our Wine of the Month, harmonizes billowing aromas of black currant, white pepper and warm vanilla oak with concentrated black currant and raspberry flavors. With firm tannins and a smooth finish, it’s a perfect match for this hearty stew.
WINE OF THE MONTH
|The Wine:||Raymond Vineyards Prodigal Collection
Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, North Coast California
|The Maker:||Stephanie Putnam, formerly of Far Niente and Hess and past ‘Cabernet of the Year’ winner (The Wine News)|
|The Acclaim:||‘American Winery of the Year,’ Wine Enthusiast 2012
Silver Medal – Sommelier Challenge 2013
Bronze Medal – American Wine Society 2013
Home to aristocracy since 1689, London’s Kensington neighborhood is filled with creamy porticoed townhouses and posh boutiques. Once the residence of Queen Victoria, this Royal Borough now hosts literati, glitterati and the darlings of the royal family.
One of our exciting new Master Suite lifestyles, the London Townhouse collection starts with light-flooded rooms that soften tradition with touches of pure glamour. Here, shimmering surfaces meet tailored lines. And feminine touches abound.