Friday, 25 May 2012

Babba by the Yard at Le 114 Faubourg

I'll spare you all the details of our dinner at Le 114 Faubourg at the Hotel Le Bristol.

Not because it wasn't sublime.  It was.

My lobster salad starter was as copious as it was delicious, which I would have appreciated more than I did, had I not already stuffed myself with the cheesy choux pastry allumettes that were served with our champagne aperitifs.  So much for planning to dine light.  To that end I'd decided against the Entrecote and ordered the sole, which was prepared 'a la plancha' and had all of the mouthwatering mmmmmm of a meuniere without the calorific butter bath.  (Monsieur, on the other hand, did have the Entrecote, which was an outstanding piece of meat.  The accompanying herbed potato puree was pretty darn good too.)

But as I said, I'm going to spare you the all details because I'm in a bit of a rush and if I spend too much time ooooh-ing and awwww-ing over our starters and mains, I won't have time to tell you about dessert.

I wasn't planning on having dessert - just as I wasn't planning to stuff myself with amazing allumettes or an enormous lobster salad or all that great sole, plus a small chunk of Monsieur's steak, oh, and a few hefty spoonfuls of his mash.  But when Monsieur saw his favourite on the menu - Babba au Rhum - I buckled and ordered something to join him.

My choice was a relatively light Red Berry Vacharin:  A very French combination of meringue, berries, a berry coulis and just enough chantilly cream to be naughtily nice.  What arrived was a masterpiece, served over dried ice for a suitably wicked effect.

Then came Monsieur's Babba.

If you're not au fait with the ways of Babba, let me explain.  Babba is a bit of sponge cake that, at the very last minute, gets drowned in rum.  A chantilly whipped cream usually comes with it to provide the pretence of a sweet dessert, but it's essentially an after dinner drink.  But THIS Babba... oh my.

When a yard of cake and a litre of rum arrives at your table, you know you're in the right place.

And you're not driving home.

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. I love cheesy choux pastry, just so you know.
2. The camera on my BlackBerry is crap, just so you know I know.
3. My double-double-toil-and-trouble dessert was photographed next to a Zagat guide because we were at The Bristol celebrating the launch of their new 2012/2013 guide.  I had no idea that there was a Mr. & Mrs Zagat behind it, let alone that they were so sweet!  Hats off to them for starting what they did some 40 years ago. Tiaras off for being bought by Google.
4. Monsieur cycled home that night to burn off all that Babba.  Which leads me to say: Burn babba burn, dessert inferno. (Mine was smoking, after all.)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Yes, We Cannes - Part II

You don't really care what Berenice Bejo wore on the red carpet last night, do you?  You just want to know what I wore during my 72 hour Cannes-glam-a-thon, right? Well, here it is.

Of the 13 outfits stuffed into my little red Rimowa carry-on (plus gym and swimwear) a total of 6 saw the light of Cote d'Azure day.  The rest stayed in my closet in our room at the Eden Roc, which ain't a bad place to hang, if you ask me.

My 1st outfit was featured heavily in Yes, We Cannes - Part I, so I won't bore you with the details here.

My 2nd outfit (which was meant to be an Allegra Hicks kaftan: column 1, down 2, if you're following my packing grid) was in fact a simple but elegant black strapless maxi dress worn over a zebra-striped bikini.

That's me, modelling a strapless black maxi-dress and a zebra-striped bikini.  As you can probably tell, there was a rather brisk wind that day, so I'm also sporting a Crimson Cashmere poncho. The waiters thought we were mad for insisting to take lunch on the terrace. I wish they'd brought me gloves.

I had intended my 3rd outfit of the trip to be a new Sportmax dress (black with some kinky detailing at the neck) but was told that we'd be going somewhere very casual for dinner, so instead I opted for a denim dress, also Sportmax, that was originally reserved for the next night (see grid). Although I should have realised that 'casual' in Cannes meant Cavalli and Swarovski, the denim dress did the biz fine, worn with a pair of €30 leather espadrilles (lord love a bargain).

That's me in my denim dress and cheap'n'cheerful espadrilles, posing between our hosts' beautiful Brazilian model girlfriend and her French teacher (also Brazilian, if not as Amazonian) who, in person, was the spitting image of Selma Hayek. This photo was taken at the Hotel du Cap bar after our 'casual' dinner in town.

If you look just beneath the lampshade at centre left, you can make out a guy wearing a flatcap.  That's Robert DeNiro.  I wish I'd heard him talking Italian, but I didn't.  I did, however, notice that he seemed to like martinis.  A lot.

The next morning I slipped on outfit 4 - another maxi dress that seemed perfect for the setting.  And oh, what a setting it was.

Gazing at one of the most beautiful views on earth under the glorious midday sun, I took the maxi dress off to reveal the black bikini pictured in my previous post.

Outfit 5 was actually outfit 13 - the last minute addition I'd made to the original 12 - which was an over-sized 3/4 sleeve metallic black v-neck sweater dress from Joseph.  Thank gawd I brought it along, because I couldn't wear what I wanted that night (the aforementioned black Sportmax number with the S&M collar) or any of the other sleeveless or spaghetti-strapped dresses that I'd brought, thanks to that glorious midday sun and a mother-fucker of a sunburn that was as uneven as it was red.

Alas, no photos of me in outfit 5/13 exist of me from that night (at least none that I'm willing to share) but dinner at La Petite Maison was a blast.

Although the rest of us were pretty pissed-off, my sunburned skin was grateful that our last day in Cannes was chilly and overcast - perfect for visiting a friends' villa-cum-art-gallery near St Tropez in outfit 6, an easy-going little DVF dress.

I know what you're thinking:  Don't I look sharp.  (And she must have photoshopped her knees.)

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. Let me bore you with the details of outfit 1 here:  Joseph top (circa 1997), Joseph black stretch trousers (circa 1995), Joseph Tuxedo Jacket (2009), Michael Kors flats; black Goyard shopper.
2. At what point do old clothes get upgraded to Vintage?
3. Pop Quiz!  How much for bouillabaisse in a 'casual' restaurant in Cannes?  €159.  Per head.  Speak to your bank manager, or cardiologist, before booking Tetou.
4. As for shoes, I brought 7 and wore 5.
5. I didn't misjudge my handbags after all: 2 Goyard shoppers (one black & one white) and a little black Dior clutch for night.
6. Our extremely generous host is a fun, warm and caring man who prefers to stay out of the limelight, so I won't mention his name but I will add a huge heartfelt thank you to the person who made this incredible journey possible.  We got back from Cannes days ago but my feet haven't yet touched the ground.  MERCI!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Yes, We Cannes - Part I

It may not have been the full-on, red carpet, let's-snort-something-on-P Diddy's-yacht whirlwind that some might expect, but in three short days I experienced more glam than I ever dare get used to.

That's me, about to board a private jet.  The last time I boarded a jet, it was a Finnair flight filled with a hundred Goretex-clad Arctic adventurers.  At least this time my handbag was in its element.

That's me and Monsieur at 40,000 feet.  Our in-flight snack consisted of Cristal and caviar (Beluga, darling) with all the trimmings.  You don't get that on Easyjet.

You see that little speck of a plane a few thousand feet below us?  That's the Easyjet flight to Nice. While it was always obvious that seat selection on a private jet would beat Speedy Boarding hands down, I had no idea that private jets fly higher than commercial airlines.  You learn something new every day.

A little more than an hour later we arrived at our destination, the Hotel du Cap Eden Rock, the hotel to see and be seen in during the festival  - or any time, come to think of it.  It's a stunning hotel in a magnificent setting, steeped in jet-set history.  If you Google "celebrities + hotel du cap eden rock" you'll get what I mean.  The list of A-listers who have gazed out at this very view, possibly out this very window, is mindblowing.

Which explains why the view from our room also included this:

The only thing those 'anglers' are fishing for are shots of celebrity cellulite and Robert DeNiro (not necessarily in the same frame).  This photo was taken on the very first day of the festival.  By day three, the entire outcrop was crawling with paparazzi and the sea was filled with their bobbing boats.  An attendant told us that last year some clever paps sent an unmanned drone - US Army style - to shoot celebs from overhead.  The cleavage shots must have been canyonesque.

But that doesn't deter the world's glitterati from enjoying this magical, luxurious idyll.  Among the stars that shone there for me were Sasha Baron Cohen, his wife, Isla Fischer, Philip Seymour Hoffman and yes, Robert DeNiro.  I think I can add Warren Beatty to the list too, although I'm not 100% sure: It was either Warren Beatty with a few too many fillers and botox injections, or some other guy who's overdose on fillers and botox made him look like Warren Beatty.  (And such are the taxing things one contemplates while sipping Ruinart Rose by Eden Roc's breathtaking infinity pool.)

You bet I plan to Cannes again.

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. Not only do they fly higher; private jets also take off at a far steeper angle than commercial planes.
2. It's confession time: Technically speaking, I only spent a few hours in Cannes.  The Hotel du Cap Eden Roc is at the tip of the Cap d'Antibes, about 15 minutes from the famous Croisette.  But that doesn't matter.  If you're at the Edec Roc, Cannes comes to you.
3. Hat's off to Eden Roc's charming General Manager, Philippe Perd and charismatic Resident Manager, Laurent Vanhoegaerden, who do an amazing job catering to the world's most demanding clientèle. (Not to mention me.)
4. I'm mostly wearing Joseph in the top shots and the bikini at the bottom is Chantal Thomas.
5. The rest of my wardrobe choices will be discussed in Yes, We Cannes - Part II.  I know, the suspense is killing you.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Cannes Minus Three

That's three hours, not the temperature.

We depart in three hours.  My suitcase is still empty but at least the chaos next to it is organised: A jumble of dresses, sweaters, cardigans, and various options for various 'Just in case...' scenarios.

For example:

Just in case we go schmoozing along the Croisette on Thursday afternoon and it's hot.
Just in case we schmooze along the Croisette and it's chilly.
Just in case David Cronenberg insists we come to his screening.
Just in case I notice George Clooney flinching at my knees.

With all of these "Just in case..."s in mind, I drew one of my signature packing charts and have tallied up a total of 12 possible outfits plus 2 bikinis to get me through 2 night and 3 days of film festival madness.

What might make no sense to you makes perfect sense to me.  I can identify each and every one of those sketches - even the shoes, which as you can tell, are not my forte.

In reality, the collection of shoes that I'm taking along looks more like this:

That's a heck of a lot of shoes for a 3 day trip.  I'm normally much more prudent.  But this Cannes we're talking about.  So WTF.

Here are my dresses:

I know what you're thinking: Where are the sequins?!  I thought that too.  I'm hoping my personality with be sparkly enough.

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. Since starting this post I have increased the number of outfits to 13.
2. I also noticed a stain from the turquoise Allegra Hicks kaftan pictured above.  Damn.
3. When Monsieur vetoed my 3rd bag (which would require us to check-in luggage - we always try to travel with hang-luggage only) I had to make a snap judgement call on which handbags and purses to take.  I think I exercised poor judgement.  Fuck.
4. He's waiting for me in the car so I've got to go.  I'll be tweeting for the next few days and will let you know how bad my judgement on the handbag front was.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A Packing List for Cannes

A few months ago, while we were huddled in a tiny cabin near Muodslompolo, northern Sweden, Monsieur received a text inviting us to the Cannes Film Festival.  Amused by the wild contrast between our Arctic adventure and the most glamorous event on the planet, he texted our giddy acceptance, and I joked about how much easier than packing for Lapland packing for Cannes would be.

Yeah, right.

We leave tomorrow and so far I've got an empty suitcase, a wardrobe full of glamorous clothes and nothing to friggin' wear. 

Two things are conspiring to make what should be a fun and indulgent packing experience a living nightmare:
  1. The Weather.
  2. My Knee(s).
The weather in Cannes is expected to be between 12 and 21 degrees Celsius.  That's like saying bring a bikini and a mink coat, which, I suppose, would be pretty a "Cannes" look.  But that's definitely not my look and still begs the question about what to wear in the evening, publicity seeking starlets notwithstanding.

Which brings me to the knee thing.

My original Cannes packing list included an assortment of chic short dresses which, come to think of it, could easily be worn with a jacket or shawl, should the Mediterranean wind pick up.  What I hadn't considered is that since injuring my knee a few months ago and giving up jogging and cycling at my doctor's behest, my legs don't look quite as presentable as they had in the past.  I learned this to my horror yesterday, as frock after frock revealed that I'd best keep my pins out of sight.

Then again, in as much as Cannes conjures up fantasy images of bikini + fur clad ingénues, these real images reveal that ropey knees are all the rage on the red carpet.  So who am I to buck the trend?

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. Technically, my wardrobe is not full of glamorous clothes.  Technically, my wardrobe is nearly empty and my bed, spare bed and floor are covered with glamorous clothes.
2. Fine.  I've decided.  If Uma, Sharon and Ines are happy to flaunt a little extra squidge, me too.
3. I wonder if I'll meet George Clooney somewhere.  Do you think he really drinks decaffinato?  I thought he was more ristretto too.  And gay.
4. I hope he's gay, or else I'll be doubly embarrassed about my squidgy knees.
5. To find out more about Muodoslompolo, read this.

Saturday, 12 May 2012


I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking, where the heck has Pepita been all week?

Well, I've been in Paris (I live here), in London (I lived there) and incommunicado (a living nightmare).

Let me explain.

My trip from Paris to London was as a tag-along to Monsieur who needed to be in Blighty for 36 hours of back-to-back business meetings.  His toil gave me the excuse I craved to stuff myself on Asian cuisine (the French are great at foie gras but make a lousy chana massala), do some essential shopping (Aveda products & Douwe Egbert instant coffee) and babble about my recent engagement with old friends.

Before I continue, let me clarify the coffee thing.

Although I love good coffee and have a stack of Ristretto pods at the ready, first thing in the morning I like to wrap my hands around a mug of instant, of which Douwe Egbert is by far the best on the market - the UK market, since it's not available in France.  That's not to say that I couldn't get by without it.  My Douwe Egbert dependency isn't so much about the caffeine as the jars that Douwe Egbert coffee comes in: Lovely glass cylinders with glass lids that seal tight - the perfect containers for dry goods, teas and other kitchen staples.  My pantry is full of 'em.

But that's not the point.

The point is that while I was in London (and all week, for that matter) I couldn't blog, upload photos, or contact and see half the people I wanted to because my BlackBerry died just before we left.

Its death-knells began a few weeks ago; first with a flicker and then with a whole day of flatline (or white screen, as the case may be).  When it miraculously sprang back to life, I counted my lucky stars, renamed the Blutooth ID 'Lazarus' and put off joining the dreaded queue at Orange's customer non-service centre on the Champs Elysées for as long as I could, ie. up until the day before we went to London, when my BlackBerry, with vindictive timing, flatlined again and stubbornly resisted a second (or third) coming.

Now, back in the UK, where I'd lived for 20 years, my service provider would have thought nothing of providing me with service, not to mention a replacement handset on the spot.  But this is France, Socialist France as of last Sunday.  So, instead of a working BlackBerry, I got bureaucracy.  Triplicate paperwork and the run-around, all in French.  It wasn't until I begged, cried, and hoiked up my Victoria's Secret that the man at the non-service desk offered me a replacement until the insurance documents get cleared.

"Yay!" I cheered.  "Oui." he chuckled, handing me a scruffy non-data-enabled Nokia.


The last time I used a mobile phone that was just a mobile phone, Scarlett Johansson hadn't been born.  Yet here I am, in 2012, unable to synch, tweet, fb or whatsapp.  And without a querty keyboard, by inability to text at more than a snail's pace has rendered me virtually voiceless.  (Predictive, my ass.)  Two tin cans and a roll of string would be 10 times more effective and 100 times less likely to cause disastrous misunderstandings.

So for those of you who've been wondering, that's where I've been:  Mainly incommunicado.   And to add alliteration to injury, I left my underwear at home when I went swimming yesterday, which made me commando incommunicado on the Metro ride home.

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. Since moving to Paris, I've tried various fancy French brands but none of them leave me with the glossy, healthy hair that Aveda imparts.
2. Who remembers the Folgers Tavern on the Green commercials?  Douwe Edbert is Britain's Folgers, but better.
3. From left to right, that's soft dried figs, home-roasted mixed nuts, sultanas, hard dried figs, wild Canadian rice, dried apricots & Craisins.
4. Apart from wanting to say hi to more people, I wish I'd had my BlackBerry in London to take photos and tweet about Harvey Nichol's storefront.  Their spring display is awesome.  Paris might know luxury, but London knows retail.  (And replacement phones.)

Friday, 4 May 2012

When Ruching Goes Wrong

Ruching's great.  It can cover up a multitude of sins.  Retaining a little water?  Wear a ruched dress.  Can't say no to dessert?  Good thing you've got that ruched skirt on.

But there's ruching, and then there's ruching - ruching for its own sake - when the draping looks more fattening than flattering, leaving one to wonder whether the designer got a *little* carried away with an extra bolt of fabric, a pin tomato and a blot of LSD.

Then again, this anti-style statement may have deeper meaning, the way Christian Dior lavished his New Look with meters of hard-to-come-by fabric in the post war world of rationing.  Perhaps today's designers are using their random ruches to stick it to Merkel's austerity measures. Cut backs?  Pleat this!

Regardless of the reason, I'm not a fan of this season's ridiculous ruching, as you may have gathered.

Acne @ The Corner

CLU @ Net-a-Porter

CO @ Browns
Carven @ Montaigne Market

Chalayan @ Net-a-Porter

Joseph @ Net-a-Porter
A Pin Tomoto
Marc Jacobs @ Colette
Pringle @ The Corner

Rick Ownes @ The Corner

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. Is it just me, or did it take you a mighty long time to scroll down past that first model?  I thought her legs would never end.
2. If you're trying to work out whether the ruching on a garment is right or wrong, ask yourself this: Does it look like I mistakenly tucked this item of clothing into my underwear when getting dressed?  If you answer yes, take it off.
3. Lord love whoever first came up with the tomato-shaped pin cushion.  Talk about being on drugs.