London Spanish Taste
World cuisines converge on London and Spain’s contribution is no exception. The story goes back a long way, to when a handful of immigrant chefs turned up with the intention of staying. That was just the beginning. Nowadays, Spanish cuisine is well established there. In great establishments and in the guise of some great names. Iberian presa and paleta, chorizo and pollo al chilindrón no longer require translation. Similarly, no introduction is required for such names as Juan Mari Arzak, Nacho Manzano, Eneko Atxa or Dabiz Muñoz. Not even Albert Adrià or the Roca brothers, even though their ventures in London have thus far proved fleeting – the former, in the Café Royal and the latter, on the first stop of their forthcoming tour. The present offers bites worthy of nostalgia-free refuge, while the future promises to be equally appetising.
Starred. Ametsa, managed by Juan Mari and Elena Arzak, is the first Spanish restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star in London, and just a few months after opening at that. They offer creative cuisine of Basque origin, in the form of a tapa with tea at four o’clock, as well as lunch for just a few pounds featuring a tasting menu with an immaculate parade of dishes. Their wine list shows special sensibilities for wines with soul and Spanish varieties.
With a “barra” (bar counter). Between Nieves Barragán’s different Barrafina – where there’s always a queue to try their regional Spanish tapas – and Donostia, with their pintxos and other nods to the finest Basque cuisine, you will be hard put to choose where to nibble on tasties at a reasonable price. However, if your thing is grills, go for Lurra.
With a history. Boasting four venues in London, and others still to come, Nacho Manzano’s Ibérica restaurants showcase the pull and the consistency of traditional Spanish cooking. Produce with designation of origin, generous helpings and an all-enveloping interior design are key to the success of a label which reaches as far afield as Manchester and Leeds.
Venerable. Boasting a team of chefs trained by the great names in Spanish haute cuisine, Alquimia is a must-visit restaurant for tasting fine rice in London. All of them, including the paellas, are served in portions for two, and there is also an assortment of other dishes on the menu.
Classy. There are very few places where cocktail culture carries as much weight as in London. Hence, Javier de las Muelas and his signature cocktails just had to set up in that city. Dry Martini London, at the Meliá White House - London, boasts an admirable nursery of mixologists who even create themed cocktails in the adjoining experimental kitchen.
In addition to these proposals, keep a look out for the long-awaited opening of the London StreetXo, while the restaurant Eneko Atxa is due to unveil in the One Aldwych Hotel in Convent Garden.
The Halkin By COMO. This hotel is synonymous with authenticity and distinction. Surrounded by embassies, with a siting as tranquil as it is near to the shopping bustle around Harrod’s, this hotel has spacious, sought-after rooms. Their luxury amenities and à la carte breakfast are also among their fortes.
IGH London Park Lane. If you want to sleep like a king, what better than to lodge in this former royal residence a stone’s throw away from Hyde Park? Their bar, restaurant and rooms have enviable views and noteworthy floral arrangements.
Meliã White House. Close to Soho and to major tourist attractions, the architecture of this hotel is an inducement on its own. The renovated rooms and the access to The Level Floor will enliven your stay all the more.
Text by Belén Parra of Gastronomistas
Images courtesy of the establishments
Buying Vinyls in London
Now that digital music seems to be trying to kill off the market for music on physical media, the vinyl record industry is actually weathering the storm quite well. Whether for reasons of pure collectionism, for love of the musical fetish that vinyl represents and will continue to represent or because any true Disc Jockey understands that vinyl is the best medium to withstand a dance floor, records in their original vinyl format continue to fill the shelves of many temples to the music lover around the world. London is a great example of this love of vinyl. We take a tour of a few shops that are still selling seven or twelve inch vinyl records today, well into the 21st Century. Come with us on this vinyl trail around London.
First off, an essential visit to the Portobello district of the city where we find two key establishments: Rough Trade and Intoxica.
In Portobello, Intoxica treasures a truly enviable catalogue of vinyl delights. Many authentic gems await discovery here, from originals by Serge Gainsbourg himself to rare editions of pop classics. It is a true paradise for any collector who will have no qualms about paying the price dictated by the condition of the vinyl and the cover sleeve in order to enrich their own personal collection. The original Rough Trade shop is only a few metres away on Talbot Road.
Within the walls of this legendary record shop, established in 1978, you’ll be able to find every style of music you can possibly imagine and unearth some surprising offers. Rough Trade East is the second shop to be opened by the British music loving owners, but a little further away this time in Brick Lane. This enormous shop offers regular live performances, an Internet café and even an exhibition hall. Rough Trade East has the largest catalogue of new items in London and sells out quickly thanks to its online store.
Another good part of the British capital city for buying vinyl lies in the north of the city – Camden.
Out on the Floor Records, on Inverness Street, is a great place to pick up second-hand LPs, original albums and even seven inch records. The curious feature of this shop is its three-in-one structure. A first floor that is independent of the ground floor that, in turn, is divided into two more. Staying in Camden and if you like rock & roll or garage, Sounds that Swing (at 88 Parkway) offers material from Crypt and Norton in its small but cosy vinyl boutique.
This tour would not be complete without a visit to the city centre and the always bustling Soho district. There are four jewels in the crown as far as vinyl is concerned to be found in Soho: Sounds of the Universe, Vinyl Junkies, Phonica and Sister Ray. Vinyl Junkies can be found on Berwick Street and is a shop that specialises in black sounds, such as funk, soul and disco music. Here you will find tonnes of great material from these musical genres. Groove, baby, groove!!! Sister Ray specialises in independent music and features the trendiest bands of the moment in any genre from indie pop to the newest style to be born on the streets of South London, dubstep. Sounds Of the Universe, the record shop run by the prestigious Soul Jazz Records label at 7 Broadwich Street, is home to vinyl records that echo the history of music through some of the very best compilation albums.
Our brief vinyl tour of London ends at an establishment that specialises in electronic music. Phonica can be found at 51 Poland Street and offers the latest and most recent genres, such as techno, house, electro, drum ‘n’ bass and every other style there is as far as electronic music is concerned.
Now you know, if you’re looking to buy vinyl records, London is a very good place to start. Get your wallet ready and let the magic of vinyl whisk you away to another world.
By Carlos Medina
Why not take a trip to London? Have a look at our flights here!
London Attired in Balenciaga
London is in a class of its own when it comes to cultural offerings. This list of exhibition spaces to visit may seem overwhelming, but it is well worth seeing some of these museums or exhibition halls whenever you happen to be in London. One such privileged spot is the Victoria & Albert Museum, dedicated to art and design, which has been hosting an endless stream of exhibitions lately. This alone warrants at least a brief visit to London.
This is true of Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, the latest jewel put out by the V&A to steal our hearts, cajoling us into making room on our agenda to delight in the work of this brilliant couturier. The exhibition, inaugurated on 27 May and running until 18 February 2018, pays tribute to Cristóbal Balenciaga, one of the great visionaries of haute couture. A contemporary of Coco Chanel and Christian Dior, he managed to seduce everyone with his technically perfect minimalist designs based on polished lines and new materials. His craftsmanship once prompted Coco Chanel to remark, “He alone was a couturier in the truest sense of the word… the others are simply fashion designers”.
On display at this exhibition, curated by the fashion specialist Cassie Davies-Strodder, are a hundred garments and twenty hats, most of which come from the V&A collection. Among the curiosities at this show is the chance to discover some of Balenciaga’s dresses and hats in detail, thanks to the collaboration of artist Nick Veasey who uses X-ray imaging techniques to reveal the complexity hidden in the designs.
This is the first exhibition in the United Kingdom dedicated to Balenciaga, who opened his first boutique in San Sebastián a hundred years ago, while eighty years have gone by since he arrived in Paris, fleeing from the Spanish Civil War. It was there that he eventually set up his own workshop and earned international fame. However, recognition was late in coming to this outstanding couturier. Acclaimed for his meticulous craftsmanship, he always shunned the limelight, despite boasting such customers as Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner and the millionaire, Mona von Bismarck.
New Design Museum in London
Still within the confines of design, to make the most of your London getaway we recommend you take the opportunity to visit the new premises of The Design Museum, which opened its doors on 24 November. Housed in the former Commonwealth Institute, the building has 10,000m2 of floor space and a parabolic ceiling. Renovation work on the premises was assigned to British architect John Pawson. The goal of this reconversion was to turn the museum, previously housed in more modest premises in the city, into a veritable beacon of design, by way of a Tate Modern of design and architecture. Apart from revelling in the new design space, you can also visit the newly unveiled exhibition, Designed in California. It explores how the ideals of the 1960s counterculture morphed into the tech culture of Silicon Valley, and how the “Designed in California” concept became the global phenomenon we know today.
Fire up and make your getaway to fine design – book your Vueling to London here.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
Photo: Dovima with Sacha, cloche and suit by Balenciaga, Café des Deux Magots, Paris, 1955. Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundationmore info
The London Punk Scene
The upcoming 14th International Beefeater In-Edit Music Documentary Festival will be featuring the best music documentaries from the past and present. This time around, what caught our attention is the large number of punk-related documentaries. No wonder, as we happen to be celebrating the fortieth anniversary of this genre. You heard it – forty years have passed since a group of mates got together and crafted a band to start a riot. And, indeed they did. The Sex Pistols lit the fuse in late 1976 and, just two years later, the musical paradigm had changed radically. The system was transformed from a scene dominated by intellectualised, ultra-professional hard rock and progressive rock bands such as Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Genesis or Emerson, Lake and Palmer, into another, totally alternative and largely amateur scene. And, London was the nerve centre of this new circus act.
Some documentaries dealing with this genre will feature at this year’s In-Edit Festival. Check out the programme here. Following is a rundown of the documentaries in which London acted as the backdrop. It’s amazing to see what the City was like at such a major turning point in its history, just when it it seemed more like a time bomb on the verge of blowing up, on account of the wrangling between different political trends and the high unemployment rate, particularly among young people. Remind you of anything?
Jubilee (Derek Jarman, 1978)
Rather than a documentary, this is actually a feature film, albeit 100% punk. Its director skilfully captured the spirit of the moment in this marvellous dystopian movie in which Elizabeth I travels 400 years into the future and lands in a desolate, nihilist Britannia where gangs of evil girls and killer police roam the streets.
The Filth And The Fury (Julien Temple, 2000)
Set at the pinnacle of this documentary genre, this film was a watershed in its day. It does true-to-life justice to the story of the Sex Pistols, the band which caused a sea change that rocked the foundations of the music industry in just one and a half years. The documentary is crammed with references to the punk scene in London. Highly recommended.
Rough Cut Ready Dubbed (Hasan Shah and Dom Shaw, 1982)
This film documents the post-punk period (1979-1982), which saw a convergence between various urban tribes, notably the Mods, Rockers, Punks and Skinheads. The editing is markedly punk, while it’s interesting to see the prevailing looks and the way the folks moved in their milieu. The main characters are scene celebrities (press, musicians, DJs, etc.) and the movie is recorded in Super 8. Stills in motion from a fleeting period marked by upheaval.
Rude Boy (Jack Hazan & David Mingay, 1980)
Set in London in 1978 and early 1979, with The Clash as co-protagonists. The movie opens by setting the scene in the electoral context that London was steeped in at the time, with nationalist, anti-communist and even xenophobes on one side, and anti-racist and anti-Nazi protests on the other. The film blends fiction with documentary and also chronicles tours by The Clash.
Punk: Attitude (Don Letts, 2005)
This documentary makes the perfect introduction to the genre for the uninitiated. It features a huge gamut of celebrities who were involved in some capacity, notably Captain Sensible (The Damned), Mick Jones (The Clash) and Siouxsie Sioux (…and the Banshees), brought together by the hardened documentalist and DJ who mediated between punks and Rastafarians in the first year of London punk.
Four Accessories For the Punk Experience in London
1. Dr. Martens Boots
Worn by many of the lads that feature in the In-Edit documentaries. Nowadays you can buy them at the official Dr. Martens Store, and also at the Camden and Portobello street markets, sold by the odd specialty stall.
2. Second-hand Punk Records
If your thing is vinyl, with mangy, well-bent edges, the best deals can be found at All Ages Records in Camden.
A number of pubs became part of the haunts of the punk movement in the 70s and early 80s, particularly those in the vicinity of the 100 club on Oxford Street, or The Roxy, in Covent Garden. If you still feel the urge to down a few pints among leather jackets with studs and crests, we recommend you head for The Elephant’s Head in Camden.
As much as some voice the opinion that punks were anti-everything – and even anti-fashion – we all know that was not true. The Sex Pistols were the first to be put through the fashion wringer. They were the living mannequins of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, who owned the Sex punk boutique at 430 King’s Road. Today, such designers as Westwood herself or Jean Paul Gaultier still display punk influences. There are currently a number of stores that carry iconic garments, but we recommend a futuristic update of this trend at Cyberdog.
Be sure to put on tight leather pants and spike your hair. Discover the wild side of London – check out our flights here.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUISmore info