Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Luxury Guide to Paris

We've all heard the stories about Paris - it's the city of love, the city of chic and one of Europe's classic destinations. None of that has changed but from time to time, we all need to go one step further and really treat ourselves. Here's a step by step luxury guide to Paris for your ultimate weekend getaway. 

Where to Stay - The Ritz Paris 

luxury guide to paris - The Ritz

When it comes to places to stay, few places are more evocative of old world grandeur, definitive style and effortless elegance than The Ritz. The name alone means over a century of the best service, style and quality. 

The hotel has earned a place in the hearts of stars from Coco Chanel to Elton John, and has maintained an impeccable standard throughout the years. Spacious bedrooms with luxurious decorations make a delightful base for a trip to the city. 

Pampering too is all in hand, The Ritz Health Club is a sight to behold, and the treatments do not disappoint. Only using the finest brands such as Clinica Ivo Pitanguy and Russie Blanche, you can guarantee that you will be leaving fresh of face and light of step. The Quintessence Facial Treatment is particularly recommended. 

Desirable dining 

When it comes to dining, the options are almost endless. Of course one can dine at restaurants with more Michelin stars than we have fingers but for those that want to try something a bit different, Thomieux is the place to go. 

The restaurant is fast making its name as the hottest dining place to be seen. A joint venture between head chef Jean-François Piège and Thierry Costes, the two have excelled at the bold richness of traditional French food. At Thomieux you find the style and elegance of a restaurant of its oeuvre without the stuffy and overly formal atmosphere too often encountered. French favourites such as foie gras, steak frites and riz de veau (lamb sweetbreads) and creme brûlée are given a new lease of life under Piège's hands. Dress up and book early and you will not be disappointed. 

Still, it would be a shame not to try a Michelin-starred dish or two when there are so many places willing to oblige (this is a luxury guide to Paris after all). Joel Roubouchon’s L’Atelier is a culinary performance worthy of a visit. The seats encircle a central bar, behind which the chefs put on the main show. A drizzle here, a flip there - it's a performance without parallel in the city. Tapas-sized portions make it easy to sample various parts of the menu and can be paired with wines from the expansive wine list.

Just a stone’s throw from the Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries on Rue de Rivoli, Angelina’s is the stop for a little afternoon treat. They are particularly famous for two things: the decadently thick hot chocolate l'Africain and the Mont Blanc. The Mont Blanc is a meringue dessert that incorporates chestnut cream and cream for a pleasure to remember. 

Around the corner, master chocolatier Jean Paul Hevin serves up a range of toothsome tartelettes and confectionery to satisfy even the most fanatic chocolate lover. Browsing the vast array of delicacies behind the counter can be difficult when deciding what to have. But you shouldn't worry, if other things catch your eye (or your palette) they can be wrapped up and taken away for later consumption, or even a present. 

Savvy and stylish
A city as famous as this for its stylishly chic inhabitants is going to have a vast choice when it comes to shopping. Luxe shoppers should make Faubourg Saint-Honore a priority for picking up their designer pieces. Perfectly located a few minutes from the Louvre, names such as Hermes, Versace and Yves St Laurent name the area as their home.

The Emirates certainly has its share of large department stores, but for ones with the quintessential Parisian touch Printemps and Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann are must-dos. An afternoon in either of these provides a lesson in the various fashions and collections of almost every designer brand. 

Printemps has the largest floor space dedicated to cosmetics of any department store worldwide - even more impressive in reality than it is on paper. Service is haughty but the choice is unrivalled, with homeware, gourmet food, jewellery and electronics on sale. So much so that picking up an extra suitcase or two along the way is always advisable. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bloody beetroots: the pickle duo part one

Like Marmite, beetroot splits people. Love it, or hate it - it's mad bad and dangerous to know. Well maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but I've heard people go on rants about this humble veg that would make Russell Brand cover his ears and partake of some smelling salts to recover himself. My ma for example. Get her started on the many reasons she hates beetroot and you will be sitting around for a long time. Prime complaints include the staining of fingers and anything else it comes in to contact with, not to mention the fact that is 'just horrible, quite horrible'.

I beg to differ. Which is why, when we spied a large box of said stuff in our favourite Sussex farm shop, I may have got a little tooooo enthusiastic and bought far more than even I could eat before it went off.

The solution? A bloody good beetroot pickle. Simple, a million times better than the shop bought beetroots in vinegar and a doodle to make.

If, like me, you can get your hands on some yellow and red beetroot, it makes for a nice contrast while the pickle is fresh but, be warned, the reds will soon put paid to the delicate colouring and everything will look pretty uniform after a few days.

Beetroot pickle (makes one jar)
500g Beetroots - as many varieties as you can get your hands on
500ml pickling vinegar - we used cider vinegar with 1 tsp black onion seeds, 1 tsp coriander seeds 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp celery seeds, 1 tbsp muscovado sugar and a cinnamon stick. Leave to simmer on a low heat for half an hour. You may want to evacuate the kitchen in this time as the fumes are pretty hefty.

Boil the beetroots in water until they soften but are still quite firm. This normally takes 45 mins for normal sized beetroots but vary depending on size. Remove from the pot and leave to cool.

Once cool, peel the beetroot. At this point, you can decide whether to leave them whole, or chop into slices as I did (handier for quick grabs).

Put the beetroot into a sterilised jar. If you are pouring the vinegar on whilst warm, you will need to ensure the jar is warm - best done in an oven on a low heat (around 140 Celsius). Otherwise, wait for vinegar to cool then pour into jar.

Seal tightly and leave for a week or two for the best flavours before tucking in.