1am finish: Marco and me
“My mother didn’t raise me to be a c***”
So said Marco Pierre White as he draped his suit jacket around my shoulders and beckoned over a waiter to top up my glass of Prosecco.
This wasn’t what I was expecting when I set out that evening to interview the man who once made his protege Gordon Ramsey cry.
I was at Marco’s in Brentwood – the restaurant which launched in December and serves a mix of Italian-inspired dishes and American classics – to have a brief chat with the 57-year-old chef, while he was in Essex.
I expected a difficult, challenging man. I thought I’d be granted mere minutes with him. Let’s face it, this was the fiery fella who once cut a hole in the back of the chef whites of one staff member who dared to complain about the heat in his kitchen. He HANDED BACK his three Michelin stars after five years and retired from the kitchen – despite being first British chef to be awarded three – and the youngest (age 32 in 1994) in Michelin history.
So, I did not expect to still be chatting to him about family, children, and comfort food, six hours – and several drinks – later, in the wee small hours at the spot, just off the M25.
“Affordable glamour” – Marco’s in Brentwood
So, tonight is the big launch party for Essex’s first Marco Pierre White restaurant (at Holiday Inn Brentwood) and it’s set to be a bit of a bash.
Arg from TOWIE will be making a personal appearance and will be singing live, while Gemma Collins and others from TOWIE will also be attending to celebrate Arg’s birthday.
As well as being on the guest list tonight, I was lucky enough to be invited to give the restaurant a whirl earlier this week (I’m still full now!) And I got to chat to Marco himself.
So what’s it all about?
Well, Marco’s New York Italian is a dining concept ideal for dinner, light bites or cocktails (I gave a bottle of the Bottega Fragolino Rosso a go. Made from red wine grapes, it’s a slightly sparking wine that tastes rather like a Kir Royal!) Continue reading
Fabulous: Farrow & Ball
When it comes to interior design, sometimes it can feel a bit like a closed shop. Finding where those elusive but oh-so lovely paints or pottery are stocked can be a bit of a mission.
Here’s where you can find some of those high-end delights – right on your doorstep.
Farrow & Ball
Iconic British brand Farrow & Ball began in the Forties as a small firm specializing in paints made in the traditional way with traditional ingredients.
Used by royalty (Prince Harry decorated his living quarters last year with a gray-and-pink color scheme, according to a consultant for the company) it offers a distinctive palette of 132 paint colours and handcrafted wallpapers. Continue reading
Craft creator: Claire Mackaness
IN recent years, TV shows like the Great British Bake Off, the British Sewing Bee and the Great Pottery Throwdown have helped fuel something of a craft boom in the UK.
Indeed, the craft market in the UK is now worth a massive £3bn (and growing!) and traditional skills such as crocheting, knitting and sewing have seen a real resurgence.
Claire Mackaness, 38, of Gooseberry Green, Billericay, has seen first-hand just how popular crocheting has become. She runs workshops in sewing, dressmaking and crochet at her studio in Brentwood – and now offers classes online.
But why does she think crocheting has become so popular again? Continue reading
Life in Leigh-on-Sea…the UK’s happiest place to live
So the little Essex seaside resort that I call home has recently been named as the happiest place in Britain to live.
Leigh-on Sea (it’s just up the road to Southend for those of you that aren’t Essex-based folk) gained the accolade from Rightmove, after scoring highly on a range of stand-out features, including community spirit and a strong sense of belonging.
The hubby and I moved to Leigh-on-Sea two years ago. I’d grown up not far from the fishing village (on Canvey Island) and missed the seaside after eight years of living inland (in the TOWIE mecca that is Brentwood) so dragged my London-bred mister closer to the estuary side.
We’re super fond of Leigh-on-Sea so were not surprised that it was ranked so highly by the property website. But we fell in love all over again when we decided not to head abroad this summer and instead holiday at home with our baby boy. Continue reading
There are few things that signal spring as sweetly as the seemingly overnight arrival daffodils in our gardens, by the roadside and in woods across the county.
Never give just one daffodil…it’s considered bad luck!
Known as Lent Lilies, daffodils (narcissi if we are to use their formal name) are the most popular flower for Easter decorations, flowering anytime from January through to April. So bedded in tradition are they that Prince Charles is paid the sum of one annual daffodil as a rent payment for the unattended lands of the Isles of Scilly.
But like most blooms there are plenty of myths attached to them. Did you know it’s is bad luck to bring in a single daffodil into your home? Doing so, it is said, will bring misfortune upon the house.
So always bring a bouquet, if you intend to give daffodils as a gift, as this will bring good fortune to the house.
And even before they’ve been picked, daffodils are rife with superstitions. It is said if you step, stomp, or trample on a bed of daffodils, bad luck will find you. However, if you make a great effort to avoid stepping on a daffodil, you will be rewarded good fortune (so keep that in mind when admiring them in their hundreds at Warley Place Nature Reserve, just south of Brentwood.) Continue reading
I have ALWAYS wanted an apple tree. I know it’s not necessarily the most exciting of items to hanker after, but since a was a little girl I have dreamed of having a garden where an apple tree grows.
I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do – Willa Cather, 1913