A Japanese living in London writes anything about everyday life in UK – cafe, restaurant, design, stores, politics, news, events, art/museums, films, food, fashion, travel etc. イギリス暮らしもかれこれ10年。カフェ、レストラン、デザイン、お店、政治、ニュース、イベント、アート／美術館、映画、食、ファッション、旅行等々、ロンドンでの日常生活や、英国に関する情報を思いつくままに綴ります。
Salt34 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5AA t. 0207 430 0335 Mon-Fri 7.30 am – 7.30 pm / Sat 10 am – 7.30 pm / Sun 10 am – 5pm
While my break from blogging, some nice cafés popped up and are on my wish list to try; Café Gourmand as I wrote yesterday is one of them, and also “Espresso Lunch & Tea Bar” Salt, few minutes walk from Holborn station.
Not only its appearance, Salt also follows golden rules of successful cafés – quality of food & drink. A list of reputed suppliers includes: Square Mile Roasters for coffee; Waterloo Tea for tea; and the Ladies Organic for milk.Bread is also very good, as the owners also run an artisan bakery, Seven Seeded. We ordered Thai green curry style soup and sandwich with salami and cheese. The ingredients were fresh and fine, but the finished dishes needed a bit of an extra punch to its taste. My regret is not having their banana bread – I didn’t notice it until I was about to leave!
I AM LOVEは、ミラノの裕福なRecchi（レッキ）家が舞台。一家の財産を築き上げた家長のEdoardo Recchi Sr.（エドアルド・レッキ・シニア）は、引退を決意、その会社の実権を息子のTancredi（タンクレディ）と孫のEdoardo Jr（エドアルド・ジュニア）に譲った。エドアルド・ジュニアは、会社の仕事以外にも、友人のAntonio（アントニオ）とともに、郊外にレストランをオープンする計画をたてている。ティルダ・スウィントン演じるEmma（エンマ）は、タンクレディのロシア人妻で、4人の成長した子供の母親。タンクレディと結婚し、ミラノに移り住んできてから、ロシア人としてのアイデンティティを捨て、夫に与えられた新しい名前、「エンマ」と生きていくことを決意し、ミラノの上流階級の生活に馴染もうと努力してきた。その完璧なイメージと裏腹に、レッキ家の人々の人生は急速に変わっていった。娘のElisabetta（エリザベッタ）はレズビアンで、留学先のロンドンでカミングアウトして新しい人生を送ろうとしていた。ロシア人としての母を敬愛するエドアルド・ジュニアは、ビジネスの厳しい現実を知り幻滅、また会社の「明るい未来」のために、祖父の興した会社を手放すことを受け入れざるを得ず、失意の中にいた。レッキ家の名に恥じないよう頑張ってきたエンマは、ありのままの自分を受け入れてくれる息子の友人・アントニオと恋に落ちたことによって、抑圧していた 情熱が解き放された。許されない恋に落ちたエンマの「パンドラの箱」が開けられ、悲劇がレッキ家を襲い、家族は崩壊を迎える。
I AM LOVE is the story of the Milan’s wealthy Recchi family. Edoardo Recchi Sr. is the patriarch who made a family fortune, and has given shared ownership of his industrial company to both his son Tancredi, and his grandson Edoardo Jr. Edoardo Jr. also has another plan of opening a restaurant with his chef friend, Antonio. Emma (Tilda Swinton) is Tancredi’s Russian wife and a mother of her four grown children. She has adopted the culture of Milan’s upper class since she married to Tancredi and moved to Milan – sealing her identity as a Russian and taking a new name ‘Emma’ that her husband gave her. Behind the flawless facade of perfect aristocratic life, the Recchi family’s lives are rapidly changing. Emma finds out that her daughter Elisabetta is a lesbian and she starts her new life in London with her girlfriend. Edoardo Jr., who adores his mother’s Russian side, is disappointed with a ‘harsh reality’ of business and is forced to let the family business go out of his hand by selling the company for its ‘better future’. Emma tries to keep up the elegant image of the Recchi family, but her life turns upside down when she falls in love with Antonio, a friend of her son, who unleashes her long repressed passion and true identity. Once the Emma’s Pandora’s box is open, a tragedy hits the family that leads the family fallen apart.
The story itself is typical melodrama and nothing new, but the cinematography is very atmospheric and stylish, portraying Milan and Italian countryside enigmatically and beautifully. Italian Futurism typeface and impressive score by a minimalist composer John Adams are perfectly matched with the classic atmosphere of the movie as well. The simple yet elegant costumes designed by Jil Sander are also chic and cool. Though well-known eccentric actress Tilda Swinton is a bit weird in the movie as I expected, her existence glows and stands out in the screen. I quite like I AM LOVE, masterfully describing gorgeous but rigid aristocratic lifestyle, like film directors of 70’s golden age of Italian cinema such as Visconti, Antonioni, and Pasolini did. Highly recommend this movie.
A new exhibition of the work of Henry Moore (1898–1986), one of Britain’s greatest sculptors and artists, just opens at Tate Britain today. The exhibition, the first major London retrospective of his work since his death in 1986, presents more than 150 stone sculptures, wood carvings, bronzes and drawings in his early career, including his main themes of the mother and child, reclining woman, seated figure and head, as well as his shelter drawings of Londoners sleeping in bomb shelters during the Blitz, as an Official War Artist. Although Moore liked his works to be in outdoor public spaces, recently more of his works are exhibited indoor due to vandalism and theft, according to the BBC news yesterday.
Moore rebelled against views of sculpture, instead finding inspiration from non-Western works he saw in museums. He pioneered carving directly from materials, evolving his signature abstract forms derived from the human body, with the influence of Modernism and Surrealism. His organic forms are generally pierced or contain hollow spaces. He was best known for his large scale abstract monumental bronze and marble sculptures which are located around London as well as the world as public art.
The exhibition is impressive and well-done. Though Moore’s works are smaller than his outdoor works, his unique style, primitive yet modern and simple, is certainly seen. His works have some sort of warmth and strength, and I felt calm and relaxed by looking at them. On the other hand, his drawings of people without faces and looking like mummies during German air raids, are painful to look at and vividly shows us the hardship that people went through during the World War II.
Cool Britannia is a media term that was used during the mid-to-late 20th century to describe the contemporary British culture. It is a pun on the title of the British patriotic song Rule, Britannia!, and the phrase “Cool Britannia” was first used in 1967 as a song title by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. The term was commonly used during the 1990s, when the country was enjoying growing economy and good vibes. Britpop groups such as Blur and Oasis hit the world’s charts, and Young British Artists (YBAs) like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin created a new wave of unconventional contemporary art (although personally I don’t fancy them). Young fashion designers like John Galliano and Alexander McQueen (whose sudden death, possibly suicide was reported today) grabbed the spectator’s attention on catwalks around the world. M and I also attracted to the simple but stylish British Graphic Design and the energy of “Cool Britannia”, and decided to move to London. Cool Britannia was closely associated with the early years of “New Labour” under Tony Blair, who won the election in 1997 and became a prime minister. Blair tried to incorporate the trend in his policy and launched the Creative Industries Task Force, intending to sell ‘Cool’ Britain to the world.
But!! Today I found a shop which completely misuse the concept of “Cool Britannia” in the center of Piccadilly Circus. In the middle of the shop, you see a Mini with British flag on its rooftop and a sad-looking man in Beefeater costume, being photographed by some tourists. You may get an impression that the shop carries full of cool British brands and hip products, but in fact there is full of cheap trash made in China. It is sad to see some tourists were shopping around quite happily. There are not many decent souvenir shops in London, but lots of South Asian (look like) owned shops selling cheap, bad quality and terrible designed goods. So when I saw the “Cool Britannia” shop at first, I thought finally I found a nice place to buy a souvenir….
When you want to buy a souvenir in London, ignore these trashy shops, and go to department stores, specialty stores, or museum shops – more costly, but much better quality and design. If you only have a small budget, go to supermarkets and drugstores. You can find products in nice packages with small price tags.
日本に帰ると、「イギリス料理は不味いの？」と聞かれることが非常に多いのだけれど、ガストロパブ（おいしい食事を提供するパブ）やセレブ・シェフの流行もあって、材料にこだわった、美味しくて洒落たブリティッシュ・レストランが増えている。Canteen（カンティーン）は、私たちが好きなブリティッシュ・レストランの一つ。「Canteen」は、学校やオフィス、軍の基地等にあるカフェテリア/レストランを意味するイギリス英語で、学食や社食を指す。ロンドンに現在4軒あるけれど、私たちがよく行くのは最寄りのSpitalfields店と、BFIでの映画やコンサートの際に立ち寄る、サウスバンクのRoyal Festival Hall店。
Incredibly, so many people from abroad believe that British food is bad. Due to the popularity of gastropubs and celebrity chefs, there are a wave of cool and delicious British restaurants using good quality ingredients in UK recent years. Canteen (“a cafeteria/restaurant at school, office or military base,” in British English) is one of our favorite British restaurants. Canteen has four branches in London, and we sometimes go to the nearest Spitalfields restaurant and the Royal Festival Hall branch in Southbank Centre when we go to a concert or a movie at BFI.
The food at Canteen is traditional British; pies, roast, stew, bakes, fish, and sausage & mash etc. The desert is also good old British treats, such as fairy cakes (cupcake) and Victoria sponge (sponge cake). All their meat is free range and additive free, and their fish is delivered directly from south coast of England. With their unpretentious food using fresh and mainly domestic ingredients from selected sources, and with its reasonable price, Canteen is very popular among Londoners and is also highly regarded by media and food critiques. I saw yesterday a documentary “True Stories: Pig Business” about pig welfare in some farms abroad (USA and Poland), and I got to know that the British regulation on animal welfare is the strictest in Europe. In general, British are passionate about animal right and welfare, and I’ve seen many restaurants, including Canteen, expressing their values in better life for farm animals and using free range and/or organic meats.
Canteen’s simple and modern but also warm interior, using British design furniture from Very Good and Proper and Windmill Furniture, is also highly recognized, and Canteen was nominated for “Best Restaurant Design 2006” by Wallpaper and Time Out. Their 24-page information booklet (photo below) also stylishly designed, and worth to get a copy.
今日はエンジェルで用事があったので、N1ショッピングセンターにあるWagamamaでランチをした。Wagamamaは、中華の有名店・Hakkasan（ハッカサン）やYauatcha（ユアッチャ）、そしてブログでも書いたPrinciやCha Cha Moonを手がけたカリスマレストラン仕掛人・Alan Yau（アラン・ヤウ）氏が1992年に創業した、「なんちゃって」ジャパニーズ・チェーン（Wagamamaのホームページでは、「pan-Asian（アジア料理）」とあるけれど）。味は今イチなんだけれども、学食のように長いテーブルが並ぶシンプルでモダンなインテリアにスタイリッシュなグラフィック、そして「ヘルシー」な「日本食」（イギリスでは、日本食＝健康的と思われている）が気軽に食べられるというので人気に火がつき、今ではイギリスのみならず、ヨーロッパやアメリカ、中東にも進出している。
We had lunch at Wagamama in N1 Shopping Centre, as we were around Angel station . Wagamama is a “pan-Asian” restaurant chain (according to its website), founded in 1992 by charismatic Hong Kong-born restauranteur Alan Yau, who also created the prestigious Chinese restaurants Hakkasan and Yauatcha, as well as more casual Princi and Cha Cha Moon I wrote in this blog before. Their food, for my eyes, is below average, but with their concept to offer “healthy” “Japanese” food with affordable price, as well as its simple and modern interir with long tables and cool graphics, Wagamama has gained popularity across UK and now expands the chain to Europe, USA, and middle eastern countries.
The name is in Japanese (means “selfish”), and Japanese fast foods and noodles such as ramen, udon, yakisoba (fried noodle), Japanese curry, and gyoza dumplings are on their menu, but Wagamama is not really a “Japanese” restaurant or quite far from it – so please don’t believe what you eat there is what you eat in Japan. I can see some Chinese influence on their ingredients and cooking. Wagamama ramen M ordered (in the photo below £7.95), with mishmash, like grilled chicken, smooth dory, prawn, kamaboko, fried tofu, mushrooms, wakame and seasonal greens, menma and spring onions, on the top of mushy noodles and bland and flavorless broth. It didn’t seem to bother M, but I prefer to buy an instant noodle from Japanese grocery store for less than £1 and cook it myself. Deep fried Vegetable (sweet potato, aubergine and butternut squash) and side salad on my yasai (vegetable) katsu curry is fine, but curry doesn’t have much taste and too little for the amount of rice – I tasted mainly rice but not curry much. Their food is Japanese fast food and equivalent to a hamburger or fish & chips and quite reasonable, but in somehow, Wagamama manages to make the dish a bit more posh. I rarely go to Wagamama because for me the price doesn’t match to the taste. However, if there is nothing decent nearby, and I craze for something Japanese-ish, I just give myself in to Wagamama…
English National Opera（イングリッシュ・ナショナル・オペラ／ENO）で、ヘンデルのメサイア（Messiah）を観た。イエス・キリストの生涯を描いたオラトリオの名作・メサイアは、もともとオペラの楽曲ではないのだが、気鋭の演出家・Deborah Warner（デボラ・ワーナー）によって、現代社会を舞台に、ダンスを取り入れたユニークなオペラ作品に仕上がった。衣装も小物も現代風、時折舞台後方のスクリーンに宗教画が映されたり、キリスト教の儀式に使われる小道具が劇中に出てくる程度で、キリストの物語にも関わらず宗教色は強くない。ティーンエイジャーの妊娠はマリアの処女懐胎、天使が羊飼いにキリスト降誕を告げる場面は、お遊戯会で子供たちがその場面を演じる形に、キリストの磔刑シーンは、若者の喧嘩に変えるなど、原作と繋がりを持たせようとしているが、ちょっと無理があるかも。キリスト教の学校に行っていたので、ある程度の知識はあるのだが、舞台上で起こってることと音楽とどう繋がりがあるのか分からず、後でタイムズ紙のレビューを読んで、ああそういうことだったのかと得心した。
We saw Handel‘s Messiah at the English National Opera (ENO). Messiah was not written for opera, but the director Deborah Warner transforms this oratorio masterpiece into an unique opera work, setting in modern urban life and taking in dance elements. The opera seems to reduce religion to a minimum – costumes and stage sets are modern, except the religious arts occasionally projected on screens and some ceremonial objects used in some scenes. The director tries to make a connection between the original story and this opera, but the attempt unfortunately doesn’t not really work well and quite cheesy: the Virgin Birth becomes teenage pregnancy, the meeting of shepherds and angels is turned into a school nativity play, and Christ’s scourging and Crucifixion translate into a fight among youths. I went to a Protestant school and know a bit about the life of Jesus Christ, but I barely understood the relationship between the music and what was going on on the stage. I figured out the meaning of some scenes after I came back home and read the review by the Times.
The biggest problem for me was the kids in the opera – I know it is not their fault but it was just annoying. A 6 year-old boy was almost always on the stage, walking around, running or sitting down, and it was very distracting. The scene of school play was really irritating as well, except a song by a boy with beautiful clear voice: the kids jumped up and down and the parents took a pictures or filmed with camcorders. It is reported that the opera uses 44 extras other than singers, including dancers. Some people just stand up or lie down – is it really necessary to put useless people on the stage??
However I I like Handel and Baroque music and enjoyed the music a lot: the Handel specialist conductor Laurence Cummings led the orchestra beautifully and voices of the two female soprano and alto singers were truly graceful. The modern and simple stage sets designed by Tom Pye were interesting, such as video footage of modern society (people going up and down on an elevator, or silhouettes of moving cranes) and transparent coffins placed all over the stage at the final part. We got a ticket, original price of £71 for only £10 with Evening Standardpromotion – so it was really worth going. But I would be upset if I paid £71 for the opera…