Saturday, 28 July 2012

don't usually write restaurant reviews but this one is special


Last time I was in this restaurant was over ten years ago. Called something else and owned by someone else, I remember thinking it was like being in someone’s home, albeit one they had turned into a dining room. Like a posh, pretentious Come Dine with Me.  All style no substance.  The service was eager as in they wouldn’t leave us alone.  Attentive is good, persistent is annoying.   I couldn’t read the menu as the lights were so dimmed I nearly burnt the menu putting it so close to the solitary candle and I left hungry because the food was good enough to look at and not enough to  satisfy.

This time, same layout but completely different experience, something Peter Burrell and Frankie Dettori MBE, the owners have done well to create. D├ęcor is minimalistic; ambience is warm.    Manager Umberto Scomparin has the manner of a knowing uncle (admittedly I suppose this is dependent on your age and sex) – but his manner is informed, helpful, warm, patient, like the proverbial baby porridge – ‘just right’.   He tells you where every ingredient originated, what is in season, making helpful suggestions not intrusive ones, or not -  if he senses you just want to eat and gaze at your partner (something they didn’t get ten years ago).   Empathy and probable telepathy is important in restaurant staff. 

The food is beautifully presented but not so much you feel you’re eating a work of art.  You can tell Chef Stefano Stecca loves what he does.   I started with salmon tartare, then sea bass, keeping it light, but there are more ample options – if you order ravioli as a starter, come hungry.  There are extremely reasonably priced set menus for Sunday lunch, especially considering where you are (Chelsea).   It somehow manages to cut across the bridge of being both smart and authentically child friendly – I’m taking my 13 year old there next week.   I haven’t been there in the evening, but at lunch time even on dull days, natural light beams in so you can see what you’re eating (many restaurants especially Italian ones go for the cosy, semi dark approach which is fine for romance, lousy for seeing the food – or menu for that matter).   And I had a menu I could read!  I know that sounds strange but as I get older the menu type face seems to get smaller – or seems to get smaller.   I didn’t even need the glasses.   Sette has empathy indeed.

There is no excuse to leave the restaurant feeling hungry or over fed– this place is the epitome of sublime ample sufficiency - it sets the right tone on every level in every way.
Sette is a cut above the rest.

www.sette-restaurant.com/The childrens menu is at £10 for two courses on Sundays and is Chicken Milanese, Tomato Spaghetti and Lasagne followed by ice cream or
Tiramisu. 

OOOOOhhhhh

Loved the flame.   Absolutely stunning and moving and clever.   And those drums and the chimneys going up. Danny Boyle's edge and hint to darkness was in every moment almost revealing a sinister underbelly and cost of success and all that glints gold - has to be paid for literally and metaphorically with lives, and blood and sweat and tears. Where there's light there's also darkness and all that.    CND, NHS were celebrated, as were the suffragette movement.   Homage to TV and film I am told was lost on the international audience. Don't care. The British should pat themselves on the back and the British did know what it was about and at this moment in the place in this way, this is all that matters.   And the british inventor of the world wide web applauded although the invention has pulled people apart as well as pulling them together.  The edge was even there.    Bond, Bean, Beckham and the Queen performed (although the Queen was seen to pick her nails and please don't give Beckham a knighthood. OBE fine, Knighthood no.    (my opinion but) Victoria will be the ultimate Lady Muck.  Thank God she didn't turn up, she would have looked as miserable there as she did at Wimbledon.

McCartney was out of time with the rest of his band and really out of time with the rest of the opening ceremony.   He recovered but as someone reminded me when I watched, the Beatles is huge.    Still, I thought the opening 'warm up' guy was absolutely fabulous, the Arctic Monkeys rocked the stadium to it's roots and the choice of music was perfect.   I wasn't there but I have a feeling chosing a film director to direct the performance meant it was fit for TV, more so than theatre.

Children dominated throughout. their innocence and energy and smiles and even at the end the flames were lit by Olympians of the future.   The ceremony was about hope for the future and their future.

Friday, 20 July 2012

OF BATS AND BADDIES


Just watched the latest Batman which is the best of the series. It was as riddled with messages as BM's car was riddled with bullets.     Ludicrous in parts (a nuclear bomb is swung around like a bouncing ball into buildings and bridges, and still doesn't explode but I don't know anything about nuclear fusion so perhaps it can be done (just checked with engineer I met and he said it can be done, so there you are) - although come to think of it, it's in a film with a flying batman so why am I looking for what is 'realistic'. 


 A lot of what the film had to 'say' however was extremely pertinent and not lost on an audience who were quiet not only because they were fascinated by the action but realized how it mirrored our own society.  Which is of course, why it works.  That and the million dollar special effects.    They know when and how to push buttons these Hollywood types, and which buttons.

For example, in the film there are the under classes - literally - getting ready to up the revolution and bring the city back to the people, although led by a man who didn't believe the people deserved it in the first place.  The dispossessed lived in the sewers and they all had, without exception, an Eastern European accent and look Eastern European.   And the monied were portrayed as philandering wasters who do stuff for charity but only if it's tax efficient. 

There's a stunning female thief with incredibly high heels, high kicks and no morals or values, who wants to 'start again', (because she's been labelled as a thief - which of course, she is, but she doesn't want that label).    She is saved because someone else continues to believe in her goodness even when she doesn't and that's what allows her to save herself and others.    She's cool, until the end of course, when she wastes five seconds of a one minute count down to the end of everything (aforementioned nuclear bomb) by snogging Batman. Until then she was the go for it girl who kicks arse, arm pit, face, anything really.  But as soon as she snogs Batman, she just becomes the It girl.

And all the main male characters, all in their own way tortured lone individuals, have one weakness.   The love of a bad woman. Well not exactly 'bad', because I'm not sure one says 'bad' any more.  How about 'damaged'?   Doing the impossible they can deal with. Saving the world or destroying it - fine.  But falling for and trusting a damaged woman, nope, putty.   Bless.   Mind you I knew one of the women was damaged from the start because she a) has a french accent and the Americans don't like or trust the French and b) she always plays damaged women in all the films I've seen her in.  The actress was in Inception, as were three of the other lead actors. I wonder if the director directed that film as well?   

The damaged males all looked like smug worthless, slimy short types.  Yes they did all look like bankers. In fact one looked a dead ringer for Bob Diamond.      A part from the most damaged male who looks like a pumped up Hannibal Lechter and spoke through a mask.

The protagonists all needed to dig themselves out of a hole of their own making (anger, self pity, self doubt etc..) - literally in several cases, and everyone wears very tight black, drive very fast, very dangerously and just how I desperately want to drive around London at the moment.


There's a scene where 'Bain' (Hannibal Lechter lookalikee)  breaks into the stock exchange and starts shooting all the traders.   One trader says to him 'why have you broken in here, there's no money to steal', to which lead baddie replies - speaking for the masses 'what you doing here then?"  See what I mean by pressing the right buttons.   The cinema audience clapped spontaneously.

It sometimes became very difficult to see who the good guys were and who the bad guys were mainly because they were all damanged.  A bit like in life really, but everyone agreed the establishment were utterly clueless and not even well intentioned.

You could see why the bad guys were frustrated and wanted to blow everyone up, because the masses were such an apathetic lemming like bunch. Loudest message I suppose was 'don't live in fear, because fear kills. And if you have hope you should cross that bridge from fear to hope.  (they literally did have to try to cross a bridge but the good guys blew it up - but only because they thought it would save more of the group, confusing huh?).   And if you do cross that metaphorical bridge, it will set you free. Ironically at one point when they tried to cross a bridge, the police blew it up (see what I mean about the establishment, bloody useless).   And oh yes, to get yourself out of a hole you need to have internal strength as well as external strength.    And you have to fight to deserve your freedom and understand your worth.      Or perhaps I'm looking deeper into it and the film doesn't have any messages and isn't actually that deep.   It was, after all, about Batman.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

TOWER HOUSE I SALUTE YOU

My son's last day at his prep school today. I remember the first when I contacted Ms Booth, the extremely efficient heart of the ship to find out if he'd passed.  She told me he hadn't then corrected herself and told me he had. I burst into tears because I was so relieved, so happy that he'd be joining a school where I felt he would thrive.  His first teacher Ms Appleton now retired had a wonderful turn of phrase and understanding of boys and men for that matter.   Picking up Tom once she said that boys continue to grow physically after the age of twelve but don't emotionally.  They stick at 12.   I disagree. I think some stick before but Tom has grown (all five foot ten and a bit of him) and thrived.   It's a salute to the teachers at the school.  It's the teachers who make this school what it is. A school may have wonderful facilities but they are only there to facilitate the teachers do their job. And the Tower House teachers do it brilliantly.  Teaching is such a worthwhile vocation.   At times I am sure extremely frustrating others rewarding and if you work in Inner London, terrifying and depressing.

I watched Tom play drums brilliantly at the prize day amongst his friends who are rounded, grounded, caring young men. They all watch after each other which is a very special quality I hope they keep into old age and pass on to their own children.  They're kind.   Ambassador and Head Boy in his year spoke extremely well, one from the head, the other from the heart.   Everyone won and deserved a prize. The singing was beautiful (poignant to hear boys so young singing 'yesterday' the lyrics belonging to someone much older in years).   The rock and swing bands were magnificent.

Tom's father was there, the first one he's made and the only one Jeremy hasn't. Thank you Jeremy for always being there for Tom in the past.  Your influence on Tom is a very positive one.   And thank you Tim for helping Tom with his drums.  His dad takes the credit but you are the one who deserves it.  It would be churlish to thank his father, but I'm very very glad he was there. Tom was very pleased to see him.   And Mr Geary, the captain my captain of the school.   Thank you for putting so much time and effort into helping Tom.     And Mr Nunn, and Ms Laird, and Mr Peyton, Mr Hare, Mr Evans, and Ms Bennett, Ms Gray, and Mrs Lamplough and Mick (who says these boys are the nicest Year 8 he has ever had.

Tom has signatures all over his white shirt. He no longer has to hang up his ruddy blazer after being asked six times to do so. I may ceremoniously burn it in the middle of the lawn.    I am still thinking about it.

I was busy in Waitrose this morning, looking like a wino with a romantic streak.   Bottles of vodka, wine and flowers for the teachers I handed to Tom this morning to give out.    Something obviously went a miss. The headmaster and head of art didn't get their vodka.  Teachers thanked me for wine when they should have got vodka and vice versa. I hope Ms Bennett got the whiskey and the women got the flowers.        I'll get the two missing vodkas to them at the beginning of next term.    Thank you Tower House for all the help you've given Tom and you've given his mum over the years.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

SOUR FACED DOUR PERSON

I felt for Murray.   He did himself a favour with those tears. The press were mixed in their response 'new bawls anyone?" when really that snipe wasn't necessary. But then people are quick to forget what a p* he's been in the past, but all in the name of winning and at any cost, even if it's to look sour and dour.  But he played his heart out and I felt for him. (why do the BBC interview STRAIGHT after the match. It's ruddy ridiculous. bit like asking somehow how they feel when they're father's just died. It's not good journalism. It's crass).

Talking of sour and dour, didn't Vicky Beckham look happy sitting next to hubby? I don't think tennis is her sport somehow. I'm sure she will say or her blogger will say for her she goes for bigger balls.    But she doesn't exactly jump up and down at football either does she?

I admit I don't understand anyone who doesn't get emotional watching sport, tennis, football, rugby, I shout encouragement at them all. It's a bit like hearing great music and not needing to dance or at least tap your feet to the rhythm.   Something I don't think VB can do even when she was in a rock band (she looked miserable with the rest of the Spice Girls as well).  If she can't smile, perhaps she should do a Murray, and try a cry.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

HONORABLE PLAGUE OF GENTLEMEN....

Been working to deadline on travel related stuff, popped up for air and saw that Bob Diamond is all over the papers, smiling.   He must stop smiling that way. All who work in the city smile that way (except back office who get treated like shit by those in the front office).   I texted ex to ask how it was in the (RBS) bank and he said 'everything peachy' so the smiles are genuine. Am told when some of the traders and head honchos announced their resignation/sacking there were tears (real ones, but perhaps it was out of fear that they could be next), so just shows you how bubble-like their existence is.  

There are photos of Bob with other honorable celebrated characters - John Terry and Tiger Woods - so the league of dishonorable gentlemen in all its forms sticks together.    But is he going to dissolve into the depths of Scotland like the last titan did?  What's his name now? Forgotten it.   Anyway, he had his windows broken and knighthood taken away but got his pension and bonuses.  

No, Diamond is seeking revenge the papers say.  Oh I do hope he does.   I really do.  I really hope he gets all self righteous about everything.     Nothing like watching a really nasty spat between titanic egos with bank accounts to match, who all think they've been wronged when all of them are in fact at fault.  The monied classes sue each other with such gay abandon I'm starting to feel it's out of boredom more than pride.  Of course after an enquiry when they may or may not fine the banks (which is after all fining the tax payer if you think about it),  they will decide no one is to blame because everyone is, or rather they will say it's the public's fault for making these titans act the way they do.    Very catholic this lot.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

DIAMONDS NOT FOREVER

Diamonds (Bob that is) are obviously not forever.    Can we have our money back please Mr Diamond.   You can keep your reputation as long we can have the past oooh..five years bonuses. Ditto the bonuses of the traders who fixed the rates.   My ex (head of gilt trading at RBS) always lectured me about how banking was a honorable profession.   It was never honorable. And how his job was to screw the bank of england.   I thought he was joking.   He wasn't.