Monday, 24 September 2007

The Staple - Olives

Parental Guidance

I love it when your parents go on holiday - you get the house to yourself if you're younger, they get some time out, and when they get back they are infinitely more relaxed. And, if you're lucky, they bring you presents. In my parents case, they've moved on from souvenit t-shirts (but only after repeated requests) to culinary delights. This time, after a recent trip to the Pelopennese, they brought these melt-in-the-mouth Kalamata olives. Succulent and gloriously (almost aubergine) coloured, these little pearls of joy are almost gone despite me only getting them yesterday. There's something wonderfully decadent about olives, their salty taste is that of holidays, and the stones mean that you always have to have a receptacle with you; they're terribly social and deserve more than most, the term amuse-bouche. So next time yours go away, drop a gentle hint for some food; failing that they'll bring you a bottle of plonk - but if you're lucky, they'll bring you both. Bizarrely for me, this was quite a culinary staple, but I have to give an honourable mention to Nigella Lawson, whose fabulous inflection and insistence on decadent easy food has inspired me this week, amongst other Staples:
Wahaca Mexican restaurant
Wearing shirts with the top button done up and no tie; the 'air tie'
Pine Nuts
The Salisbury Pub in Covent Garden
Nigella Lawson's Express Italian programme
The National's album, 'Boxer'

Monday, 17 September 2007

The Staple - Blue shirt

La mode

London Fashion Week has arrived, and at last I've had a free weekend to escape to the shops. And amongst the distressed D&G denim and the dayglo patent hi-tops in Selfridges, I browsed among the more sophisticated brands APC, Martin Margiela and Dries van Noten. But one brand to which I keep returning is Full Circle, kind of like Kris van Assche for Dior on a more modest budget. That's where I discovered this beautiful shirt, which had me thinking all around Selfridges, despite the preponderance of well-dressed young men, and eventually I was rushing back to buy it. The colour is the hottest of the season, featuring throughout the menswear floor, from Alexander McQueen through Burberry Prorsum and Paul & Joe to Gucci. Note also the beautifully-cut, minimal and unusally small collar. The fit is immaculate, slim but not skinny or tight, and the colour is flattering but not garish; on trend but not fashion victim. OK, at £50 it's not especially cheap, but I would be surprised if anyone could recognise it as non-designer. Men's fashion (ouside the fabulously hedonistic BoomBox scene) is all about a subtlety of cut and colour that merges together to create an almost imperceptibly better whole that is immediately noticeable. This fashion week, I have been telling my mates (semi-jokingly I suppose) to 'do their bit' for British fashion. This shirt, and indeed much of the Full Circle Autumn/Winter collection is a very good place to start. Along with this week's other Staples:
Cadbury's mini rolls
The new Go! Team album, 'Proof of Youth'
Full Circle menswear
Framed film posters
The Rake pub in London Bridge
Hoegaarden with a slice of lime
Notting Hill Exchange

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

The Staple - A Ticket To Ride

Emergency Exit

It's easy to forget just how lovely and accessible the rest of the SouthEast of GB is from London. We got some mates together for a brief jaunt out to Southend this Saturday, and although it might not be the classiest mini-break, just soaking your toes in the freezing sea and chilling out on the beach is enough to de-stress from a week of work and a Friday evening of blasting it. I'm a true believer in chilling out; a relaxed body is healthier and happier. And it might be just because I'm a country bumpkin, but I can't relax in the city; at least not in London. So a fantastic train ride (for only £7.60 return) and an hour later, there we were on the beach. Escaping for just a few hours was so lovely, and even better earlier in the summer at a caravan park near Clacton; we didn't even make it to Clacton proper, just hung around the park all weekend. It was one of the best of my life. With so much choice, and the weather still being (touch wood) warm-ish, I urge you to get your frisbee and a four-pack and get yourself to Liverpool Street. It's even better than a hungover Saturday in your bed watching the Hollyoaks omnibus. Yes, even better. This week's Staples are:
Groupsave tickets out of London
Toblerone in airport-sized packs
Queens Park in northwest London
Noise-cancelling headphones with a overhead band
Aubergine knitwear
Evening picnics indoors
Peppermint tea

Thursday, 6 September 2007

The Staple - Abanícos

Viva España

So I went to Spain this weekend, for a bit of an R&R sojourn to recover from the Festivalis. And it worked. I was very chilled out, and it wasn't just the Cava, or the sun, or getting 12 consecutive hours of sleep, the lovely Gaudí architecture, or even being surrounded bu Iberian demi-gods. When it gets hot in Spain, Spanish people (mostly women, I'll admit) use these abanícos - folding fans. They are both practical, and can be stylish - I did have some original 1950s ones that made it into a fashion column, but one was tragically lost in a cesspit, and the other was claimed by my Mum. However, my favourites were these uber-tacky souvenir ones, with a gilded brown plastic exoskeleton, cliched 'España' imagery and black lace. What's not to like? They are the best thing if you're hot, anywhere, they double as an eyeshade and what's more, they double as communications devices. In the court of Marie Antoinette, fans like this were used to signal desire, disgust and despair, with but a flick of the wrist; something that I reckon should be brought back - not a look, but a coded movement. What versatile objects. Clearly multitasking, but without the macho overtones of a penknife - get your fans out on the Tube or wherever and get them used; you can only win...Anyway, this week's Staples are mostly of a holiday theme; more practicalities later...
A Spanish-style fan
Rosé wine
Tailored shorts
Tortilla Española
English breakfast muffins slathered in butter
Hot Spanish men