Food Photography

La Basitde de Moustiers

Hidden away  in the mountains above Les Gorges du Verdon is a beautiful Provençal paradise, La Bastide de Moustiers. Founded by the one and only Alain Ducasse  , La Bastide is set in four acres of land, with small stone cottages set around the main house, where you will find the stunning restaurant and terrace over looking the landscape. The S.O and I had the pleasure of visiting over the summer, and as autumn descends upon London, I cannot help but think back to the warmth of Moustiers in August.

Everything that is produced at La Bastide is seasonal, with an ever changing menu. Walking out into the gardens, you can see all the herbs and vegetables being grown, tended to and picked. There is not a single sound apart from the buzzing of bright violet carpenter bees, weighing down every flower they can land on.

La Bastide is a short drive from the town, famous for its hand painted china. We spent a hot afternoon wandering the steep streets, the S.O trying to distract me from buying every piece of china with Lavender ice cream and the promise of cold Rose. If you should find yourself in Moustiers, look out for the star which has hung above the town by a knight after the Crusades (legend has it).

 

For me, the absolute highlight of our stay was the breakfast each morning; walking out into the dappled sunlight took my breath away. The sweet, fresh juices and home made honey on warm pastry made me wish the moment would never end, and I could stay in this haven, eating breakfast with my love forever.

Lazy Days Spent in the South of France

When I think of summer, my mind immediately wanders to being at my mothers home in France. The drive up into the mountains, the warm sun and of course the food. There is nothing I enjoy more than a morning spent at the market. France_01

Each weekend, Valbonne opens itself up into a food paradise, selling the most beautiful fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses and meats. Charlie and I spent a wonderful morning perusing the market and sneaking around the quieter backstreets to take a break from the hustle and bustle.

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Admittedly Valbonne can be a little bit of a tourist trap, however I recommend getting to the market early, watch the vendors setting up their stalls, buy everything your stomach desires and as the crowds descend, make a quick exit into the hills.

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My favourite escape from the busy markets has to be the Foundation Maeght, a stunning art gallery set in the hills of St Paul de Vence. I have visited the Maeght since I was a child  and each year that I return feels just like the first. Founded in the 1960s' the Maeght is famous for nurturing contemporary artists; Giacometti, Miro and Chagall all have permanent works integrated into the gardens.

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Visiting the South of France every year feels like coming home. It is the place I have been with my friends and family as a child, fallen in love as an adult and now having my mother living here, it really is home.

A New Neighbour

I have to start off this post with an apology for the radio silence, however I do have a good excuse, the S.O. and I have spent the last month buying our first home! So it seems apt that today's post is about our newest local restaurant, Neighbour. Located right at the top of Kentish Town high street, Neighbour serves up seasonal fair from brunch until dinner with a cocktail bar tucked away down the stairs.  

Naturally we started the evening off with drinks from the ample Spritz menu and they did not disappoint;  chalice sized Aperol and Campari Spritz's, with the perfect balance of bitter and sweet.

 

Neighbour offers a vast selection of small plates as well as mains, and after much deliberation, the four of us decided to order a plentiful selection of the small plates to share. I would highly recommend this approach to dining if the option is there, I always want to try as much as I can without feeling like I'm sharing all of my food! The standout dishes by far were the fried chicken with kale and siracha ketchup, the salt cod and fritto misto with salsa verde.

 

I have to confess we rather over ordered on our mains, so split two desserts, Pimms jelly with strawberry mousse and the chocolate salted caramel torte. The desserts certainly looked beautiful, however it was the mains that stole the show (or perhaps we were too full!).

For a new opening, I think Neighbour is onto a good thing; the space is stunning, with a warm atmosphere, good food and friendly service. I'm happy to count them as my new neighbourhood go-to.

Lunch of a Freelancer 4.0

For every rule there is an exception and in terms of City heat, I like to think of myself as that exception. I love the heat of the summer and how the pace of London life seems to slow right down. What then could be better than a luxurious lunch in the sunshine? In order to achieve the maximum amount of rays, I chose the Roof Deck at Selfridges. I also secretly wanted to impress my favourite American friend, Rosie Spinks to see if the promise of Californian style dining in Central London could live up to her discerning tastes. Roof_Deck_001

We started with the latest trend in drinks, Frosé aka frozen Rosé. I can confirm this is not just a trend, it is also one of the most delicious and thirst quenching experiences I have had; the sweetness was perfectly balanced with fresh berries and lemon mixed with a lovely medium dry wine.

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The tuna ceviche with plantain crisps was light and fresh, however the Cobb salad absolutely stole the show. Creamy blue cheese dressing, crunchy salad and ripe avocado paired with perfectly salty bacon. Rosie and I ate it so quickly I have no photographic evidence to show for it!

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If you are eating any meal in the sun, it has to be finished off with something very, very cold. Thankfully the deck offers an unusual and exciting dessert, avocado and pistachio ice cream sandwich. Held together with sweet meringue, the ice cream had a wonderful flavour, with a hint of avocado, leaning on the right side of savoury.

I adored the Roof Deck; the food is fresh and beautiful, the drinks cool and refreshing. The bill was the only thing that stung a little, the Roof Deck is not cheap, however for a special occasion or just a drink after work with a spectacular view of the City it's one not to be missed this summer.

Lunch of a Freelancer 3.0

Lunches (for me) fall into two categories, long and luxurious or quick and easy. They each have their merits, however both must be delicious. Walter and Monty  falls firmly into the latter. A beautiful space in the city, right next to the Gerkin, Walter and Monty serves up a selection of perfectly marinated and cooked meats, either in a box or wrap. The meat is butchered and prepared each morning by Chef James, or as I prefer to call him 'Meat BAE', but fear not vegetarians! There are hearty salads galore, so no one is left out.

When the doors open for lunch service, there is genuinely a queue out into the street. Most are regulars, who have a great chat with Alex (an owner, who can be found behind the till most days) as they choose from the variety of meats and salad. A good friend of mine who works in the City takes in her own Tupperware box to be filled, and is proud to be the only one (although I may have just ruined her secret).

Having worked in the City for many years, Alex has tapped into exactly what the market wants; quality food that is competitively priced that can be eaten on site or taken away (in beautifully designed packaging) to your desk. Everything moves quickly, the service is impeccable and each person who visits leaves happily full, or excitedly salivating.

 

Party at the Parlour

In 1999, aged ten, I received a fax whilst on a school trip to France. My sister had given birth to a baby girl, Ava. The letter was handwritten by my mother and I read it excitedly as my friends huddled around me. I was an auntie and for the first time in my life I had something that no one else had - and for perhaps the last time,  I was (for a moment) considered cool.
18 years later, we celebrated Ava's birthday at the Parlour in Kensal Rise. I told the fax story over a crisp glass of Picpoul and salt baked chicken. Ava's boyfriend asked me what a fax was and I suddenly felt ancient by comparison. We spent the entire afternoon sat in the main bar at a long table for 12 - laughing, drinking and reminiscing.
Everyone opted for a variety of roasts; venison, beef and of course the salt baked chicken. Each as scrumptious as the last, with lashings of gravy, huge fluffy Yorkshire puddings and of course buttery veg. Only one person broke the mould with chicken kiev with slaw. We finished our meal with cake (as one must) and espresso martinis - I highly recommend this combination.
The Parlour is a place for celebration. The space is light and airy, the staff are incredibly accommodating and made no objection when my sister covered the table with glitter and balloons, insisting her daughter was turning 12 and never 18! Every other table was filled with groups of families, all celebrating their own occasions, giving the whole place a contagious sense of joy.
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Lunch of a Freelancer

Freelancing has many perks, that I cannot deny. However, freelancing, for me, has one big downside: loneliness. Some days, when I am not shooting, will be spent at home, alone, staring vacantly at my computer whilst half heartedly watching 'The Good Wife'. Now that I have painted this depressing tableau, let me tell you my remedy for it. Lunch. Lunch with another human, preferably a freelancer. With this in mind, last week, my dining companion was one of my favourite freelance humans, Rosie Spinks. A hugely talented writer, self proclaimed Mouthy Woman (if you don't know what that is then I strongly advise clicking the link) and a fantastic meal mate.

I suggested Polpetto for our lunch date, a small restaurant in the middle of Berwick St, and was overjoyed when Rosie told me she had always wanted to go there. I love Polpetto. Walking in through the heavy red velvet curtains feels like entering some secret place, chancing upon an intimate little world. Dimly lit, with candles on every table, it could easily be mistaken as a place just for dates. Do not be fooled, this restaurant is for everyone.

As it was National Pizza Day on our lunch trip, we of course chose the pizette; small delicious ovals of joy. Rosie’s choice won by a mile, the white pizzette with a beautiful combination of sweet caramelised onions and fresh, punchy thyme. To feel ever so slightly healthy we accompanied these with the Cavolo Nero Caesar and a broccoli, feta and pine nut salad. To feel ever so slightly naughty, I indulged in a cocktail; Rosie a glass of wine.

I am a huge fan of Polpetto because it embodies everything I desire from a meal. Simple, flavoursome food made for sharing, wonderful drinks and the feeling of being somewhere special (without spending a fortune).

 

Valentine's Day

I am a hopeless romantic. I suffer from this affliction as a direct result of my father. He is one of the soppiest people I know. Since I moved out of home (which is nearing the ten year mark), he has sent me a blank Valentine's Day card every single year without fail. I know it's him because of the handwritten scrawl on the envelope and because he usually calls to ask if I have received it (I never said he made a great romantic). Now the mantle has been well and truly passed to my (long suffering) S.O. Thankfully he too is a master of romantic gestures and I returned home today to find the most beautiful flowers from Bloom & Wild waiting for me. I love having flowers in the house, so for me this is the perfect V Day gift. To lessen the cheese element, there was a card which lets just say contained the words 'booty' and 'Steven', which had me giggling to myself as well as feeling incredibly sorry for the person who had to type it out.

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They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and in my case this statement could not be closer to the truth. The way to my S.O's heart is through cake, specifically from the Primrose Bakery  (or should I say BAE-kery).  I purchased the two most embarrassingly romantic cupcakes on offer and I can say with certainty that there is no better gift for my beloved; and I know that we are meant to be because my card is equally as silly as his was to me.

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Thyme Well Spent

There is no better way to beat the January blues than a weekend escape. With that in mind, we skived off on Friday and took a drive down to Thyme. Over the last 12 years, the Hibbert family have lovingly restored the estate's cottages and barns to create a stylish, comfortable and unpretentious hotel that showcases the stunning stone built architecture that is so quintessentially Cotswolds.

Everything about Thyme is personal, from the welcome note and biscuits in our room, the friendly and attentive staff (especially barman Connor who makes a mean Espresso Martini), to the hot water bottle we found in bed that evening. I am not sure if it was sheer coincidence or that it was obvious how much we love a good drink, but I have to make a special mention of the home infused blood orange vodka nightcap left out for us after dinner! Two of my favourite things in life are puns and cocktails, so I was overjoyed to find The Baa at Thyme, complete with sheep seats to rest weary limbs after a country walk. All cocktails at the bar are seasonal and created with homemade syrups, bitters and infusions. Purely in the name of research I may have drunk one or two ... (several), but the winner by a mile had to be ‘Thyme Goes Sloe-ly’, a perfect blend of sloe-gin, St Germain and house made ‘Winter Bitters’.

It may sound as if we survive solely on a diet of alcohol, but thankfully for our livers this could not be further from the truth. The Hibbert family also own a picturesque country pub, The Swan, approximately five minutes' walk away. Armed with an umbrella and a lantern (kindly provided by the Hotel) we wandered over for a beautiful dinner of scotch eggs, veal pappardelle and pheasant breast, washed down with a bottle of white wine (of course).

At breakfast, in Thyme's grand dining room, we had baked ham with fried eggs and portobello mushrooms, alongside a selection of homemade preserves and freshly baked sourdough bread. I wandered into the kitchen where I was warmly greeted by the chef, who obliged my request to take pictures as he prepped freshly picked herbs and vegetables from the farm.

After breakfast, we took a walk around the grounds and found Thyme's farm. During a lengthy debate about whether it would be ok to climb the fence for a closer look, we bumped into Jerry Hibbert, who gave us a personal tour and a fascinating insight into Thyme's produce-to-plate approach. The farm has chickens, quails, indian runner ducks, more chickens, pigs and two vegetable poly tunnels, all of which supply the majority of the hotels fresh produce. The proof is in the eating. Thyme's enthusiasm for homemade, home grown food (and drink) creates a unique and perfect example of how to do country escapes.

London Shell Co. A Day In The Life

  I met Harry and Leah on a beautiful summers day at a friend’s lunch. They burst in like a whirlwind with a bag of fresh oysters and more Riesling than I thought humanly possible to drink. Between shucking and drinking, they told us about their plan to open a pop-up restaurant on a boat, serving seafood paired with wine. Being an unashamed opportunist, I told them if they ever needed pictures taken, I was their girl.

Two boats and many evenings later they have found a home aboard the Prince Regent and I cannot recommend a more delicious or fun experience. I have shot for them on many occasions but my all time favourite was spending the day documenting every detail. Armed with my trusty Bronica, we set off to Billingsgate at some ungodly hour in the morning. We spoke to fishmongers, drank cups of tea and ate bacon sarnies. We bombed it back in the van to the boat where chef Tim prepared for the lunch service. At lunch excited diners embarked, ate and drank to their hearts content as we floated along the canal. We docked back in Camden and after the last tipsy guest left I took a portrait of this amazing brother and sister team, beaming with pride at their well-deserved achievement.

So I strongly recommend that after reading my post you visit https://www.londonshellco.com and book in for an unforgettable experience.

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New Year, New Blog

For some time now my blog has been sitting lonely, unloved and sad, lost in the depths of the internet. But no more! As the old adage goes, 'new year, new you' and an integral part of my 'new me' is my blog. This will be a place showcasing new work, personal projects, photographers who inspire me and exhibitions that excite me. Perhaps even a musing or two...all strictly related to the still image of course. So, please watch this space, this is my public promise to keep this blog up to date and hopefully interesting for those who read it.

Whilst everyone awaits the deluge of new work to come, here is a small selection of some of my favourite shots from 2016 to enjoy.