Category Archives: London

London Food | The Gate, Islington

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant | Islington, London

I was put off vegetarianism / veganism at a very young age, when my family was on holiday in Vermont, and we stopped off unsuspectingly at what we soon found out was a vegan restaurant. This was a good 20 years ago (goodness, that makes me feel old), when veganism was far from the relatively mainstream diet it is today, and vegetarian/vegan cuisine has certainly improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. I still remember the plate of strange tasting, cold noodles, served with a drizzle of olive oil and nothing else that so unimpressed my 10 year old self (I’d spent the past 5 years in California after all; sushi was my favourite food).

Ever since then, I’ve tended to view vegetarian/vegan restaurants slightly suspiciously; however, when I had the opportunity to try out The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant in Islington, I leapt at the chance, as I’d read so many rave reviews of it in the past. First opened in 1989, The Gate has long been topping the lists of the best vegetarian restaurants in London, and I was soon to find out why!

Earlier in the week, I took my friend John along with me for what I thought would be a fairly quick lunch, but in fact our meal turned into one of the most leisurely and delicious I’ve had for quite some time. It was wonderful, and a particularly great half-term treat to be able to spend so long over a mid-day meal.

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant | Islington, LondonThe Gate Vegetarian Restaurant | Islington, London

The Gate Restaurant’s original branch is in Hammersmith, but as well as the Islington location, it’s opening a Marylebone branch in December, which is super news for me as Marylebone Village is always a favourite area of mine. I chose to try the Islington restaurant, as I noticed how nearby it is to Sadler’s Wells, and I always find it so useful to know of good dining options close to a favourite theatre. The Islington branch is a large, attractive space, with plenty of natural light streaming in from from a wall of windows.

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant | Islington, London

John arrived, and we decided to order a carafe of wine to share between us (I always appreciate restaurants that offer you the choice of a carafe, as it’s definitely a more lunch-friendly option, and I generally wouldn’t want more than a carafe to share between two people anyway). Our waitress helpfully suggested a wine she thought we would particularly enjoy – the Picpoul de Pinet, Mirande – but also said she would bring it for us to taste, as well as a Sauvignon Blanc, to see which we preferred. She was right – her recommendation was by far our favourite and proved to be the perfect accompaniment to our meal.

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant | Islington, London

Apart from the food, what really stood out for me at The Gate was the exceptionally good service. All the staff were so friendly, knowledgable and attentive, which added a great deal to the pleasurable experience of our meal. The quality of service can sometimes be a little hit-and-miss in London, so it was really refreshing to be in a restaurant where the staff hit just the right note.

Feeling our stomachs beginning to rumble, we perused the menu. I should mention that all dishes are clearly marked as being vegetarian or vegan, as well as gluten free. Some vegan dishes can be made vegetarian, and vice-versa, and there are options to have nuts or not in a dish, depending on your preference. The restaurant is also child friendly, with a menu offering kid friendly options like potato and cheddar croquettes and the pasta of the day.

We decided to start with the mezze platter: an inviting dish to share between two people, offering a taster of the a la carte starters. The mezze selection takes about 15 minutes to prepare (and is marked as such on the menu), so our waitress suggested we enjoy some bread, tapenade and olives whilst we waited.

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant | Islington, London

The homemade warm, crusty bread was perfect for dipping in the olive oil and tapenade mix (we both love tapenade so particularly enjoyed this over the more usual plain bread and butter offering). The olives were tasty as well, and we nibbled happily away, catching up on each other’s news and exchanging recommendations for TV shows and books we were enjoying (I’m currently gripped by The Missing – anyone else?!). Our platter arrived, looking stunning, and John got his first proper taste of what it’s like to dine out with a blogger: lots of camera snapping and me exclaiming ‘oh! I must post this as an instagram story!’

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant | Islington, London

We tried: miso glazed aubergine (my favourite!), three lentil pate terrine, hazelnut and honey crusted goat cheese with beetroot carpaccio, couscous fritters with a Moroccan style carrot puree and a three onion tart. Everything tasted so fresh and flavourful and looked so pretty on the plate (I always think food should be pleasing to the eye, as well as the stomach!). The miso glazed aubergine was the standout for me: the mix of sweet and salty was just right, and the scattering of nuts and sesame on the top gave a pleasing contrast in texture to the meltingly soft aubergine.

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant | Islington, London

I loved sharing the platter: it was such a fun way to start the meal, and it was nice to get such a different variety of mezze from the more typical mix of dips and salads. John pronounced everything as exceedingly good too, and we managed to polish off so much we began to worry we’d have enough appetite for our mains!

I liked the sound of the butternut rotolo: layered potatoes stuffed with butternut squash, Italian sundried tomato and basil, served alongside celeriac puree, apple and celery salad, sweet potato crisps and a creamy sorrel sauce.

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant | Islington, London

It was a wonderful autumnal dish, and despite my fears, I managed to polish off every bite! The sweet potato crisps were delicious – I insisted John try some too – and I loved the butternut rotolo, which somehow managed to not be too starchy. The celeriac puree was perfectly seasoned, and the salad provided a welcome freshness and bite. When done well, I love how vegetarian food tastes luxurious and delicious, and yet doesn’t leave you feeling too heavy and sleepy at the end of a meal.

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant | Islington, London

John went for tortillas filled with black bean, sweetcorn, soft onion and coriander in a lightly spiced tomato sauce, with guacamole, green tomato and sweet pepper salsa. He had the non-vegan version, opting for a topping of sour cream. A confirmed meat eater, he still thoroughly enjoyed this dish, as he did all the food, and neither of us missed the presence of meat at all.

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant | Islington, London

For sides, we had some mixed steamed greens (I always love getting as many greens into a meal as possible!), and our waitress told us the chunky herb polenta chips with garlic aioli were a must-try. Again, her recommendation was spot-on: the chips were beautifully crispy, with just the right amount of salt, and were exceedingly more-ish. We both loved them!

Of course, when the dessert menu appeared, I found I couldn’t resist. I love anything with almond in it, so settled on the apple and almond tart, with apple and calvados sorbet.

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant | Islington, London

John, as I could have predicted, ordered the sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel ice-cream (I have yet to know a man who doesn’t say yes to this pudding whenever it’s on a menu!). We sampled each dessert and pronounced them both delicious!

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant | Islington, London

John and I agreed that we’d both had the most lovely lunch, and if you find yourself in Islington, Hammersmith or (from December!) Marylebone, then I definitely suggest planning a meal at The Gate.

I would equally recommend the restaurant for a quick, working lunch break, as well as more leisurely meal in the day or evening. There is a shorter lunch menu that is offered, which lists extremely reasonable dishes (£7-£8.50) that are ideal for a healthy, satisfying mid-day meal if you work in the area and fancy popping out for your lunch break. The Islington branch is where I’ll be booking for a pre or post theatre supper next time I’ve got tickets to see a show at Sadler’s Wells or The Almeida. I would also suggest The Gate Vegetarian Restaurants as ideal places to book if you’re planning a meal with friends who you know have specific dietary requirements. With a flexible menu and wonderful service, you’ll all be guaranteed to enjoy a lovely meal (even the die-hard meat eaters amongst you!).

Have you been to any of The Gate Vegetarian Restaurants? Which dish would you most like to try from the ones we ordered?

** This meal was complimentary, but as always, my opinions (and those of my friends) are my own and theirs. It is my policy to share only the best on Miranda’s Notebook! 

** Want to read more of my restaurant reviews? Check them out here.

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Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine

Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead

Over the weekend, I spent the most marvellous Saturday afternoon in Hampstead. Whenever you’re lucky enough to get a sunny weekend in London, it’s absolutely necessary to take full advantage and to get out of the house. I’ve been reading the marvellous Signe Johansen’s new book, How to Hygge, over the past few days, and in it she discusses the importance of being in nature as much as possible. Her descriptions of picking lily of the valley in the woods near her childhood house in Oslo filled me with wonder and determined me to get outside more. I fear I’ve yet to work my way up to embracing the outdoors in all weathers, and I hardly feel a wander on Hampstead Heath in heels and a long, floaty dress is quite the way to bring out my inner Viking, but baby steps…

I’m wearing
Maxi Dress | Laura Ashley c/o
Clutch Bag | Anthropologie (a lovely birthday gift! Thanks Cat!)
Ankle Boots (similar) | L.K. Bennett

Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, HampsteadFeeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead

I visited Kenwood House, a beautiful historic house on the Heath, famed for its stunning architecture and wonderful collection of artwork (boasting paintings by Vermeer, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, and Gainsborough, to name a few). If you’ve never been, then do put it on your list next time you’re in North London: entry is free, you’re allowed to take photos and there’s a very nice tearoom. If you’re a fan of the movie Notting Hill, then you’ll be pleased to know that Kenwood House was where they filmed the Henry James scene. I felt rather like a Henry James heroine myself, as I swept through the house and grounds in my long, Victoriana inspired dress.

Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead

The library was, predictably, my favourite room in the house. I think you’ll find it easy to see why. Aren’t those ceilings breath-taking? I think we stayed in this room a good 20 minutes, just enjoying being in such a lovely space (and me of course getting a little snap-happy with the camera).

Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead Feeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, HampsteadFeeling Like a Henry James Heroine at Kenwood House, Hampstead

I was thrilled to be featured on the Laura Ashley blog yesterday: take a look at the post to read why I love this maxi dress so much and for more pics!

Have you ever been to Kenwood House? If not, have I inspired you to make a trip?

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The Miranda’s Notebook Newsletter!

Miranda's Notebook Newsletter Launch

I’m so excited to announce the launch of the Miranda’s Notebook Weekly Newsletter!

I’ve been working hard this week designing the type of content I’ll provide Miranda’s Notebook newsletter subscribers. I want to give original, exclusive content that I hope will be a pleasure to have landing in your inboxes on a weekly basis. Subscribers to the newsletter will receive:

++ A weekly ‘could-do’ list, filled with my suggestions of what to See, Read, Eat, Watch and Shop each week. Through these letters, I’m looking forward to sharing recommendations that I don’t always get to write about on the blog, from TV series I’m hooked on, to a brilliant novel I’ve just put down and my latest fashion find (like the dress I recently bought for my 30th Birthday celebrations in London).

++ Postcards from London (and beyond). Whenever I go somewhere especially nice or interesting, but don’t always feel I have quite enough material for a full blog post, I’ll be sending out some virtual postcards, rather like the one below, to keep you updated with my latest recommendations.

Postcards from London | Miranda's Notebook Newsletter

++ Downloadable resources. Subscribers to my newsletter will have access to free resources I’m currently creating, such as my favourite places to have Afternoon Tea in London and a collection of my Best Loved Recipes.

++ Latest announcements. Get on the list to be the first to know about my latest launches and events. You’ll get the inside scoop about when Tea & Tattle is going live, as well as further news about the Online Book Club I’ll be launching later in the winter.

++ And more! You know I love to plan new things for this online space all the time, and I can promise I’ll be working hard to think of ways I can make the newsletter more engaging.

The first ‘could-do’ list will be sent out tomorrow (Saturday, 15th October), so make sure to sign up quickly!

Fill in your details to sign up below:

Thank you so much for your support, as always!

Fun Things to See and Do | October 2016

Fun Things to See and Do | October 2016

This post marks a year since the first of my ‘Fun Things to See and Do’ articles. I’ve so enjoyed thinking of pleasurable activities each month, and I do hope you enjoy these posts as well! Here’s my list for October (my very favourite month, and not just because I was born in it!):

1/ Attend the Daunt Books Autumn Festival later this week (6-7th October). As you know, Daunt Books is one of my very favourite book shops in London, and I’m so pleased they are now hosting an Autumn Book Festival. The Spring Festival is fantastic (I’ve tried to go every year since it first began), and I’m very sorry I’ll be missing the first Autumn one, as I’ll be in Geneva. Please, someone go and tell me all about it! If you’re in a particularly bookish mood, then you may also want to drop by the London Literature Festival at South Bank.

2/ Book in for a facial. I always find October-December an exceptionally busy time of year, and remembering to pamper yourself a little is a good way to stay sane and keep a youthful glow! I really like Clarins Skin Spa for treatments.

3/ Try out a new bar during London Cocktail Week (3-9th October). I’m always surprised when LCW rolls around again (where does the year go?!), and as usual it looks like there’s a good selection of bars participating, so round up some friends and prepare to have fun!

4/ Invite friends round for a low-key Sunday roast. I recently bought Diana Henry’s latest cookbook, Simple, and I was very much taken with her description of an ideal Sunday roast as involving minimal fuss (only 2 side dishes!), but still a lot of flavour and elegance. It’s inspired me to try such a Sunday lunch at home myself sometime soon.

5/ Take a trip to the countryside. One of my all-time favourite blog posts is when I wrote about my day trip to explore Sissinghurst Castle Gardens last October. It was the most perfect autumnal day, and I so enjoyed spending it in such beautiful, tranquil surroundings.

6/ Embrace the  fika and hygge craze by finding the best Scandi baked goods in London. I haven’t been to Scandi Kitchen yet, but since getting the marvellous book, Fika and Hygge, by the lady behind the Scandi Kitchen cafe, Bronte Aurell, I’m determined to try it out asap (later today, even!).

7/ Treat yourself to some pretty candles. I love getting cosy in the evenings at this time of year, and a lighted candle always makes me feel instantly more relaxed. Heal’s has a really nice selection, and as I’ll be in the area, I think I’ll pop by today.

8/ Start the season of giving a little early and make someone you care about a gift basket, just because. The hamper could be really simple (dry pancake mix, a jar of maple syrup, some fresh blueberries, arranged in a pretty bowl with a tea-towel and magazine for a Sunday morning treat, or even just a bottle of wine and a selection of cheese, crackers and grapes), but would still make someone’s day.

9/ Admire Rodin’s exquisite sculptures at the Rodin and Dance exhibition that opens at the Courtauld Gallery later this month.

10/ Revitalise your living space. During the autumn and winter, I spend much more time at home, and it’s fun to add some extra touches that make my flat more inviting. Arranging brightly coloured berries in a vase in the fireplace, adding a new cushion to the sofa and finally getting all my pictures hung are on my list. If you’re looking for a great interior design blog for some inspiration, then I highly recommend Little Big Bell. Geraldine’s house looks so amazing, and I fully empathise with her love for colour!

A few other things I’m looking forward to this month:

++ My birthday! My 30th birthday is on Friday, and I’ll be celebrating it in Geneva with family which will be lovely. I’ve also got plans with friends in London later in the month: a birthday afternoon tea at The Modern Pantry and cocktails at Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings. I can’t wait!

++ Speaking at the Women in TES (Times Educational Supplement) group. I feel very honoured to have been asked to speak about my experience teaching and blogging (and balancing both) at this group next week. It’ll be my first time public speaking in this way, so I’m both nervous and excited!

++ Blog events. There’s another line-up of fun sounding blog events this month, including an event at the British Library I think sounds excellent, and the launch of an Elizabeth Arden Flagship Counter at Debenhams is bound to be great.

++ Half-term. What teacher doesn’t look forward to half-term?!

++ Eating plenty of pumpkin pie. I’m always happy I have my birthday to call in as an excuse whenever I want pie (which is often) this month.

And Most Especially…

Recording my first podcast episodes for Tea and Tattle! We’re currently picking our theme tune, so it’s all starting to feel very real. Thank you everyone who is signing up for our Newsletter already. I’m so excited to share more with you soon!

What are your fun plans for October? Do you enjoy this time of year as much as I do?

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London Food | Date Night Suggestion

London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho

If you’re looking for a fun place for your next date night, then I’ve got just the spot for you. Duck and Rice is a pub and dining room that serves some truly stellar Chinese food in Soho. Famed for founding Wagamama and Hakkasan, Alan Yau has struck gold again with his latest London eatery. In a box-shaped building with food stalls jostling the pavements outside the front door, Yau has created what no-one knew London was missing: a Chinese gastropub, and as incongruous as the combination might seem, it definitely works.

London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, SohoLondon Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho

A week or so ago, I took my friend Arthur along for lunch, as we’ve shared a love for gossiping over crispy duck since our university days at SOAS. Fun as it is for lunch, though, I think Duck and Rice would be an especially good setting for a low-key date night (and have filed it away as such under my London restaurant recommendations).

The interior of the restaurant is sure to impress: downstairs is more pub like, with gleaming tanks of beer in the entrance, a sweeping bar and lots of cosy nooks.

London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho

Duck and Rice offers a terrific selection of beers and wines, as well as some delicious sounding gin & tonics and even beer cocktails (beer negroni, anyone?). I’m not much of an ale drinker, I have to admit, so I was happy with my glass of wine. I really was impressed with the wine list, which offered a wide range of choice, from very reasonable (starting at £2.60 for a small glass), to more decadent options. The tea list got Arthur’s stamp of approval (he was President of the Tea Society at SOAS, after all), and we ordered a pot of tea to share between us, which was generously refilled throughout the meal.

For our meal, we decided to go for a selection of dishes to share, starting with salt and pepper squid, prawn dumplings, vegetarian lettuce leaf wraps and spring rolls. Crispy duck, accompanied by handmade pancakes and all the trimmings, arrived too, and our waiter shredded it in front of us. The duck was superb: perfectly moist with crispy skin, and it has been a long time since I had such delicious dim sum. The squid was excellently tender, and we thoroughly enjoyed every dish, polishing off every last morsel.

London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, SohoLondon Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho(Thanks for being my hand model, Arthur!)

We were seated at a table in the restaurant proper upstairs, which boasts another magnificent bar and beautiful interiors. I loved the blue and white decor with touches of gold. It would be lovely to sit out on the upstairs balcony on a warm evening, watching the heaving crowds of Soho from above.

London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho London Food | Date Night Suggestion: Duck and Rice, Soho

The restaurant, by the way, wasn’t at all empty over the lunch hour (it was packed), but by the time we’d finished eating at a leisurely place, it had emptied out a lot upstairs so I was able to get some clear shots. Heading back outside, we decided to walk off some of the excellent meal by winding our way through the streets to Holborn for iced coffee (sadly we were too full for any cake) at Fleet River Bakery. The perfect finish to a lovely afternoon!

Have you eaten at Duck and Rice? What are your favourite suggestions for a date night in London?

**This post was done in collaboration with citizenMag, and for another take on the same story, you can read their review of Duck and Rice. Of course, as always, all opinions (and those of my friends I bring along!) are unbiased and theirs and my own. 

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London Food | Theo’s Simple Italian

London Food | Theo's Simple Italian

A couple weekends ago, I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Hotel Indigo in Earl’s Court for a pasta-making masterclass by Theo Randall and to try out the new Italian Brunch menu he has designed for his Theo’s Simple Italian restaurant at the hotel. This four course bunch menu is available from Saturday 24th September for £35 a head (and includes a glass of prosecco on arrival). I suggest booking pronto, as the food was incredible, and it was the most enjoyable tapas style sharing spread that I’ve had in a long time.

I was very excited to attend this event, as not only is Theo Randall an amazing chef (he was head chef at The River Cafe for over 15 years), but I had also been able to ask some other bloggers to join me. I contacted the lovely ladies I met in Paris and was looking forward to a little reunion!

London Restaurant Review | Best Italian Brunch

I’ve been to a few events at the Hotel Indigo before, and I always love returning. It’s a really gorgeous space; somewhere equally nice for a pot of tea, lunch or a cocktail in the evening. If I’m ever at a loose end and have time to kill when I’m in Earl’s Court, then I will inevitably find myself loitering over tea (and something carb-laden) at the hotel. There are plenty of cosy nooks:

London Food | Theo's Simple Italian

As well as light, airy dining spaces:

London Food | Theo's Simple Italian London Food | Theo's Simple Italian

Yes, it’s definitely always a pleasure to pop into this hotel! My arrival on this occasion was made even more joyful, as I was immediately handed a glass of the most delicious peach bellini. On my first sip, I felt all the cares of the week slip away, and I settled down to enjoy a fabulous start to the weekend.

London Food | Theo's Simple Italian

As well as the lovely ladies I’d met in Paris, there were several other bloggers at the event, and it was a lot of fun to meet everyone and discover some new-to-me blogs. After chatting for a bit, we all gathered round to watch Theo demonstrate his recipe for fresh ricotta and spinach ravioli.

London Food | Theo's Simple Italian

Theo had a brilliantly down-to-earth manner and was charming to everyone, giving some great tips on how best to cook pasta. I’ve already started incorporating his advice into my cooking and have been very pleased with the results! According to Theo, you should always undercook hard pasta by 2-3 minutes less than directed on the packet. Rather than draining the pasta over a colander, remove it from the water with tongs or a slotted spoon, adding it straight to your pan of sauce. Add a ladleful or two of the water that boiled the pasta to the sauce and stir through for a few more minutes. Your resulting pasta will have nicely absorbed the sauce and be perfectly cooked.

London Food | Theo's Simple ItalianLondon Food | Theo's Simple Italian

Theo was also kind enough to give his recipe for the fresh pasta dough he used for the ravioli. I couldn’t find the note I made of it, but I tracked down a recipe of his that’s very similar here. Now I just need a pasta machine!

After seeing one of the pasta dishes we’d soon be served prepared in front of us, our appetites were definitely whetted for the Italian feast ahead. It was certainly a good job we were hungry…to kick things off, enormous platters of antipasti, focaccia and bruschetta arrived, along with some white wine.

London Food | Theo's Simple Italian London Food | Theo's Simple ItalianLondon Food | Theo's Simple Italian

I absolutely love this kind of spread, which is ideal for sharing, and we all tucked in, dipping our focaccia into bowls of olive oil, piling marinated artichokes, prosciutto di Parma and buffalo mozzarella onto our plates and exclaiming over the sweetness of the perfectly ripe tomatoes.

Next came bowlfuls of pasta so tasty that I felt if I closed my eyes I could imagine myself twirling spaghetti round my fork outside a restaurant in Rome. Very Eat Pray Love style. The pastas served were the spinach and ricotta ravioli we’d seen Theo making, dished up with a sage and butter sauce, as well as a mouth-meltingly good pappardelle con ragu di manzo (fresh pasta with slow cooked beef in Chianti and San Marzano tomatoes) and seafood linguine.

London Food | Theo's Simple ItalianLondon Food | Theo's Simple ItalianLondon Food | Theo's Simple Italian

Next up, we were served fish, pork and frittata, with red wine to accompany the pork. Theo’s passion for using top quality ingredients to create simple, authentic and flavourful Italian dishes really shines in this menu. Every plate was a beautiful example of a classic dish created with expert care and attention.

London Food | Theo's Simple ItalianLondon Food | Theo's Simple Italian London Food | Theo's Simple Italian London Food | Theo's Simple Italian

Finally, dessert arrived: a platter of tiramisu, Amalfi lemon tart and ricotta cheesecake with pears marinated in Marsala and vanilla. I am going back to Theo’s Simple Italian for the ricotta cheesecake alone. My favourite Italian restaurant on Long Island served the most delicious ricotta cheesecake I’d ever tasted (Mum and I sometimes used to stop off on my way to ballet class, just so I could have a slice of that cake!), and I’ve been searching for one just as good ever since we moved away 15 years ago. Now, I’ve finally found the equivalent (if not even a tiny bit better – the pears really add a lot), and I’m taking my Mum as soon as possible so she can try it too.

London Food | Theo's Simple Italian

Feeling exceptionally full, I bemoaned the fact that I had to head off to the gym to do a weights session (not the pleasantest thing I’ve ever done, let me assure you), so I waved goodbye to the others and headed to the tube. It had been such a fun afternoon, and I really can’t recommend Theo’s Simple Italian enough. I don’t always enjoy sharing menus, but this one really is fantastic, and I like the way you can choose which Primi and Secondi dishes you would prefer. Importantly, the serving sizes are definitely plentiful too so there’s no danger of feeling hungry!

Are you keen to try Theo’s Simple Italian yourself? What are your favourite Italian restaurants in London?

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Fun Things to See and Do In September

Fun Things To See And Do In September | Miranda's Notebook

September is upon us already. How did that happen?! I feel August went in the blink of an eye, but I’m enjoying turning my thoughts towards autumn and am excited for the month ahead. Here are some fun things to see and do to make September even better:

1/ Buy some pretty stationery. I have a weakness for stationery anyway, but when the start of the new school year rolls around again, I develop a real urge to buy pretty notebooks, diaries and sharp pencils. Everyone has been talking about kikki.K lately, so I may have to make a trip to their Covent Garden shop.

2/ Set new goals. Even more than January, for many people September is considered a ‘fresh start’ and a time for reflection and setting new goals. I have an exciting project I’m working on and am hoping to launch this autumn, and I can’t wait to share more with you later.

3/ Have a fantastic Italian brunch to extend that summer feeling. There’s nothing like Italian food to bring some warmth and sunshine into your day, and I can heartily recommend the delicious menu that Theo Randall has created for his Simple Italian restaurant at the Hotel Indigo in Earl’s Court. I’ll be writing it up properly over the next few days, and I’m already planning my next trip back as the food was amazing and I need an antidote to these grey skies!

4/ Explore secret corners of London through Open House weekend (17th & 18th September).

5/ Get to Farmopolis in Greenwich before the flower show closes at the end of the month. The flowers have been reused from the Chelsea Flower Show to create a green oasis, and I can’t wait to check it out!

6/ Go for an early morning walk. There’s nothing like crisp autumnal mornings for clearing away all the cobwebs.

7/ Eat oysters and bake apple pie. In celebration of being back in a month with an ‘r’ in it, I recommend enjoying the oyster happy hour at Remedy wine bar in Fitzrovia (psst, on Monday evenings they also put a select number of wine bottles 1/2 price). Also, autumn wouldn’t be autumn without a freshly baked apple pie!

8/ Forage for blackberries and make some jam.

9/ Reread a much-loved book from your childhood. A fresh school year always brings a sense of nostalgia for me, and I love to reread some of the most beloved books of my childhood – the Betsy-Tacy books – this time of year.

10/ Drop by the Town House, Spitalfields for their exhibition with St Judes. I love St Judes’ range of artists and their collection of beautiful fabrics, and I can’t wait to see their latest designs, as well as artwork by Angie Lewin and Christopher Brown, that they’ll be showing.

***

A few other things I’m looking forward to this month:

// A lovely friend’s hen-do and wedding!

// A birthday party at the Reform Club (I’ve been debating which dress to wear for days!).

// Lunch at Duck and Rice.

// Several blog events that sound a lot of fun.

// The Daunt Books Walking Book Club this month, when we’ll discuss Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. I’ve loved rereading this book and can’t wait for the discussion.

What are your fun plans for the month? Do fill me in!

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London Culture | Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern

Poppies | Georgia O'KeeffeOriental Poppies, Georgia O’Keeffe

‘I paint because colour is a significant language to me.’ – Georgia O’Keeffe

The other week, I met up with a Miranda’s Notebook reader (hi, Peter!) to see the new exhibition at Tate Modern, a retrospective of the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), celebrating 100 years of her work since her first exhibition in New York. The Tate Modern exhibition is huge – spanning several rooms – and encompasses work from the 1910s to the 1960s. Alongside O’Keeffe’s paintings are collections of her books – many inscribed by her friends – and numerous photographs taken by her husband Alfred Stieglitz. This exhibition, then, offers the viewer a well-rounded glimpse into the life and influences of a pioneering artist.

As a leader in American Modernism, Georgia O’Keeffe is one of the country’s most significant female artists, whose iconic landscapes and flower paintings are instantly recognisable. Having grown up in the US, I was already well acquainted with her work. As a child, my family had spent about 6 months living in New Mexico, where O’Keeffe lived for many years. O’Keeffe was fascinated by the desert landscape and she explored the distinctive colours and shapes of the land around her many times through her art. Looking at her paintings brought my memories of New Mexico rushing back to me, recalling the rusted reds and pinks of the cliffs and the vastness of the horizon.

black-mesa-landscape-new-mexico-out-back-of-mary-s-ii Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico / Out Back of Marie’s II, Georgia O’Keeffe

Black Place III Georgia O'KeeffeBlack Place II, Georgia O’Keeffe

From the Faraway, Nearby | Georgia O'KeefeFrom the Faraway, Nearby, Georgia O’Keeffe

It is O’Keeffe’s instinctive, extraordinary eye for colour that I find so exciting. Even in a seemingly monotonous landscape of desert, she identified a rich palette of colours, saying:

‘I wish you could see what I see out the windows – the earth pink and yellow cliffs to the north – the full pale moon about to go down in an early lavender sky behind a very beautiful tree-covered mesa to the west – pink and purple hills in front and the scrubby fine dull green cedars – and a feeling of much space – it is a very beautiful world.’

Her visceral delight in colour is joyously represented in her beautiful flower paintings, which of course were the ones I lingered over the most.

036N09229_3VTS8Jimson Weed / White Flower No.1, Georgia O’Keeffe

Single Calla Lily | Georgia O'KeeffeSingle Calla Lily, Georgia O’Keeffe

I rather wished there were more flowers on display, but I appreciated that the exhibition wanted to show the full scope of O’Keeffe’s work. My other real favourites were the New York Cityscapes, which so vividly capture the spirit and energy of the Big Apple, as well as its awe-inspiring architecture.

new-york-street-with-moon-1925-okeefe-1356381673_orgNew York Street With Moon, Georgia O’Keeffe

I so recommend getting to this exhibition as soon as you can, and I know I’ll be returning to it several times. There is so much to enjoy, and lovers of colour will definitely be in rapture!

In case you like reading around a subject, I had fun compiling a reading list for books that I feel accompany this exhibition rather well. I’d love to hear any ideas you may have too!

Georgia O’Keeffe Exhibition Reading Suggestions

1/ My Faraway One: Selected Letters

A fascinating, lyrical collection of letters between Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz.

2/ Georgia O’Keeffe and Her Houses

A beautiful book documenting the history of O’Keeffe’s two houses in New Mexico and their influence on her art.

3/ The Spell of New Mexico

Edited by Tony Hillerman, this is a brilliant collection of essays exploring the appeal New Mexico has held for many famous writers. Included are writings by D.H. Lawrence, Mary Austin and Winfield Townley Scott, amongst many others.

4/ Georgia Rises

A richly inspiring children’s picture book by the acclaimed author Kathryn Lasky. A day in the life of Georgia O’Keeffe is imagined in this gorgeously colourful book.

5/ Ride the Pink Horse

One of my very favourite Persephone Books is an American thriller: The Expendable Man by Dorothy B Hughes. Hughes is a wonderful writer and wrote some novels set in New Mexico. Ride the Pink Horse is on my list to read, as is The Blackbirder.

6/ Death Comes For the Archbishop

Willa Cather’s classic novel masterfully captures the extraordinary landscape of the Southwestern desert.

7/ The Harvey Girls

An intriguing account of the history of New Mexico, told from the perspective of the women that helped shape the lives of early settlers along the Santa Fe Railroad.

8/ Cafe Pasqual’s Cookbook

You know I can never have too many cookbooks, and this one offers delicious recipes from one of the best-loved restaurants in Santa Fe.

Are you a fan of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work? Have you been to the Tate Modern exhibition yet?

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{Note: I am travelling to France for two weeks tomorrow and will have very limited internet access whilst I’m there, so I most likely won’t be publishing anything on the blog. I envision many posts telling you all about Provence on my return, though, and in the meantime you can follow my adventures on instagram.}

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Print Dress‘Wardrobe Stories’ is a series in which I discuss the most beloved items in my closet. They are the pieces I turn to season after season, year after year, and that never go out of style.

The Avoca dress pictured above has been a summer favourite of mine for years. I love the mix of floral patterns (featuring one of my favourite Liberty fabrics), pretty beading around the waistline and the fact that the dress can be worn with flats or heels for a fuss-free day to evening transition. It was warm enough over the weekend to pull the dress out again, ready for exploring the gardens at the Geffrye Museum and drinks in the sunshine.

Several of my favourite summer dresses are in fact by Avoca Clothing. I first discovered the brand years ago on holiday in Jersey, where I stumbled upon a boutique that stocked some pretty Avoca dresses, skirts and their classic ballerina-style wraps. Since then, I’ve been quick to spot their signature floral prints in boutiques in London, and this dress I in fact bought at a shop in Lewes whilst on my way to my first visit to Charleston.

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral DressWardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

Avoca takes its name from the brand’s location, and I would love to pay a visit to Avoca, Ireland myself sometime, not least to visit the lovely sounding shop and weaving mill, which is apparently the oldest in Ireland. The village looks utterly charming, nestled in a valley alongside the River Avoca. I shall definitely get there one day!

Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

In the meantime, visiting some of London’s prettiest gardens is curbing any pangs I have for an escape to the countryside. The Geffrye Museum is one of my favourite places in the city, and it has charming gardens and a leafy courtyard that offer peaceful refuge on a hot day. Devoted to domestic history, the museum is well worth visiting too, with its series of rooms that show the evolution of English living rooms over the last 400 years (my favourite is the 1950s room!). In the summer months, though, I especially enjoy the Geffrye’s gardens.

Geffrye Museum Gardens | LondonWardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress Geffrye Museum Gardens | LondonGeffrye Museum Gardens | London

The gardens at the Geffrye consist of a walled herb garden (with plenty of benches in cosy nooks to read a book or chat to a friend) and several period gardens. The period gardens offer a further insight into British domestic history, as they are based on drawings and recorded plantings of urban middle-class gardens, from the 17th – 20th Century. I particularly delight in the 19th and 20th Century period gardens, with the former featuring a truly Victorian looking greenhouse and the latter a pergola covered in roses (or wisteria, depending on the season). I felt I blended rather nicely into the background in my floral dress!

Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

If you’re in the mood for refreshments (I always seem to be), then it’s worth heading to the cafe for a pot of tea (and perhaps a brownie. Unfortunately, some of the cafe cakes tend towards being rather too dry, but I can report the brownie is gooey and tasty). The cafe is light and airy and overlooks the 20th Century period garden, as well as some bee hives.

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

There’s also a Mini Moderns pop up shop presently at the Geffrye, where I stopped to pick up some gifts for upcoming birthdays (I’d been to their press release earlier in the week and had to go back for more!). The main shop is very nice too (they stock a particularly good selection of cards – I can never resist picking up one or two!).

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

If you’re looking for ways to escape the heat in London at the moment, then I definitely recommend throwing on your favourite cotton floral dress and finding a shady spot in the Geffrye Museum gardens!

What are your wardrobe staples for summer? Do you have a dress you pull out every year?

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P.S. More ‘Wardrobe Stories’: my Anna Sui dress and a classic LBD.

P.P.S. THANK YOU so much to everyone who has filled in the Miranda’s Notebook Reader Survey. I have absolutely loved reading all your comments, and I’ve found all the feedback so helpful. I was really touched by how many people bothered to fill it in, and you’ve got me very excited for some plans I intend to start implementing in the Autumn!

Fun Things to See and Do in July

funthingsjuly

Hello July! I can’t believe the summer is suddenly truly here (well, apart from all the rain and the fact that I’m still wearing a leather jacket most days – London, eh?). But yes, a very British summer is being enjoyed, and I’ve gathered together a few ideas for fun things to see and do this month, whether it’s rainy or dry:

1/ Take in some great summer exhibitions, including  Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern, David Hockney at the Royal Academy and Winifred Knights at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

2/ Admire the displays at Hampton Court Flower Show this weekend. I recommend travelling by boat to the palace if you can! I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the water last year.

3/ Make your own iced tea and coffee. I love an ice-cold drink on a hot day and will definitely be making this Orange Blossom Iced Tea and this Iced Mocha throughout the summer.

4/ Book in advance for an open-air film at Somerset House. There’s something magical about seeing a film under the stars, and Somerset House always has a good selection of movies showing in August, but tickets sell out very quickly so it’s a good idea to start booking now.

5/ Make a floral headpiece. This Summer Flower Head Dress workshop at the Flower Appreciation Society sounds so fun!

6/ Go for a swim. You don’t even have to head to the beach: I’m rather keen to try out the Lido (and it’s lovely looking cafe) at Herne Hill.

7/ Sip cocktails on a roof terrace (my favourite is at Orrery).

8/ Head to the BBC Proms. I haven’t been to the Proms for years, but I used to enjoy going and am tempted to book some tickets again this year.

9/ Pick out some page-turning books for holiday flights. Agatha Christie is my absolute favourite holiday reading pick, and I recently finished rereading Murder at the Vicarage. They’re always light, but engrossing reads – perfect for when you’re travelling! Another page-turner that’s just out in time for summer is The Girls by Emma Cline. This is definitely not a light book (the subject matter is pretty disturbing), but I’m about 1/3rd of the way through now and keep wanting to find out what happens next.

10/ Enjoy a summer bbq. When I lived in the US, it was common to cook on the BBQ almost everyday during the summer. The weather certainly doesn’t allow that in the UK, but I am looking forward to at least one (hopefully dry) BBQ this month!

What’s on your list that you’re looking forward to this month?

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