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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Happy Chip Week! McCain's 35th Anniversary Press Dinner at The Haymarket Hotel

Forget London Fashion Week, last week was also Chip Week, which filled me with child-like joy and wonderment - being one rather partial to the act of eating.

Although I loathe convenience food with a vengeance and am a great advocate of fine holistic fayre involving wilted kale and raw almond butter, oven chips I do adore.

Yes of course chopping your own spuds and frying them in oil (coconut of course dahlings) taste better and leave you emanating in a substantial dose of smug satisfaction, but I'm sure many of you will agree...

you better believe it!

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for cooking your own food from scratch and believe many wholesome meals can be made in just a few minutes, yet potato peeling, chopping, frying, dodging random flying oil attacks aimed towards your eyeball - this takes time...and a heck of a lot of patience.

So, on the odd occasion when I get home after a long, tiring day or when I feel the need for a second dinner at 1 am, I have been known to shove a tray of McCain Rustic Chips in the oven, which I usually nom with a frivolously fried egg or two.

I especially adore these vegan-friendly oven chips as they are only 3% fat, contain two ingredients - (potatoes and a dash of sunflower oil) and are made with the fiber-rich, vitamin C-packed potato skins left on. Oh the wholesome joy of it all...

To show my support of such a worthy chip I even attended McCain's 35th anniversary dinner party, held at the elegant Haymarket Hotel in Mayfair.

I must confess that my evening had a rather naughty start as I somehow ended up at the wrong event within the same hotel, drinking a rogue glass of champagne that was meant for associates of a rubber band company (don't ask).

Eventually I made it down to McCain's chiptastic (sorry) shindig which began in the Haymarket Hotel's famous pool side bar - a shimmering scene of eye candy shrouded in seductive, pink-hued lighting.

Just smile until the chips arrive ladies...

Whilst sipping retro Harvey Wallbanger cocktails, I mingled with lovely McCain PR's and fellow food-loving journalists, including seasonal dinner party guru Liz O' Keefe who develops seriously sumptuous recipes for The Good Food Channel, and Delicious Magazine's talented food stylist Rosie Ramsden, who along with her food writer husband, sadly no longer gets invited to dinner parties. This clearly being the unfortunate consequence of their profound food judging skills.

Feeling merry and fueled by our grumbling tums, we made our way to the private dining room where we were greeted by a fabulous table decorated with 1970's style adornments - similar to the sort of kitsch nick knacks that grace the coffee tables of charming grandmothers up in Hull.

I reveled in the hearty menu, which featured 70's classics such as prawn cocktail and chicken Kiev - which I later discovered upon glancing at a guest's plate (whilst battling a sudden case of food envy), appeared to be the biggest chicken Kiev in the world.

I opted for an enticing, slightly more modern version of cheese and pineapple on a stick as my starter and ploughed  down with glee on a hefty sirloin steak accompanied by watercress, a peppery cream sauce and a pleasing mountain of McCain oven chips.

Come to mamma...

Admittedly, it did feel rather odd to be served oven chips in such plush (non-homely) surroundings, yet as I chomped away on these surprisingly delicious golden nuggets of potato goodness, I felt a sense of gastronomic comfort. Although I was wearing my finest Reiss dress and highest patent heels, surrounded by the stylish splendor of a 5 star London hotel, I felt that same comfy feeling I get when I'm curled up at home on my beloved sofa with my second dinner nestled on my lap.

Now, that's my kind of dinner party...

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Made in Chelsea....and Paris. A Review of Guild Hairdressing

I recently dyed my hair a darker shade of brown after flaunting a golden, highlight-strewn mane over the summer and became somewhat addicted to the darker side...

I was suddenly enticed by the sultry allure of midnight-hued locks and craved a more intense, chocolate-rich shade to start the new year - as well as a fashionable, body-boosting layered cut...kind of like a less dated version of Rachel's from Friends.

After indulging in a stunning shellac gel mani pedi at the newly opened Guild salon on the Kings Road, I had got to know its charming co-founder Philippe Hostalery, who left me intrigued after singing the praises of his business partner and the salon's renowned Parisian hair stylist - Philippe Gentner.

Pretty, shiny nails that last for two weeks without chipping? DO I?!

Gentner is widely known by glamorous Parisian socialites and well-coiffed celebrities to be a genius with a pair of scissors and a hair dryer, so I was keen to be booked in for a glorious new hair style created by his talented hands the next time he graced the London-based salon with his presence.

I also booked myself in for a colour session with Guild's senior designer, Sebastien Elissalde - a tress-transforming colourist with a creative mind and a hearty laugh...

My barnet-beautifying day at Guild began by bumping into half the cast of Made in Chelsea as I sauntered up the drizzly Kings Road on my way to the salon. When I arrived, a flurried, damp mess, I noticed another character/actor/reality star from the show getting ready to leave whilst swaying a beautifully styled head of long, shimmering waves that, quite frankly, needed to be Instagramed right then and there.

As I nibbled on hob nobs and sipped a strong cup of hot tea, Sebastien discussed my dashing delve into darkness - showing me examples on a colour chart and explaining which shade he felt would suit my olive skin tone the most.

Redken's Shades EQ Gloss - an ammonia-free, conditioning demi-permanent colour in a dark cocoa brown shade was chosen to dye my long, parched hair. I was told it would create an exceptionally glossy and hydrated result, gradually fading after 8 weeks.

After the creamy colour solution was slathered on and left to do its magic for the next half an hour or so, it was washed off while I lay back on one of Guild's swanky massaging chairs - with built in mood lighting (oh yeeeeeah).

I was then fabulously styled within an inch of my life by Gentner, who cut seriously sassy choppy layers into my hair, finishing with the mother of all blowdries.

The result was truly stunning - big, bouncy, layered hair that was vibrantly coloured and glimmering with multidimensional shine.

With the hair styling geniuses of Guild - Philippe and Sebastien 

In the days following my visit to Guild, I basked in a merry array of compliments on my sultry new look. My glam mummy, being rather partial to the odd trip to a swish salon...and pampering in general (hey, we're Persian, preening is like breathing to us) was keen to be booked in for a colour with Sebastien and a cut with grooming guru Gentner.  This was due to her great approval of my newly decorated head. And she doesn't approve lightly. Oh nooo.

Maybe a spot of backcombing pls?

Upon visiting the salon, my mummy silently admired the exquisite decor of the place and became somewhat attached to the massaging chairs. She opted for a ruby red shellac manicure, an intense permanent golden blonde colour and a sassy feathered cut, which I think made her look even more splendid than she usually does.

My freshly styled mummy with the talented Andrew

...and colouring expert Sebastien

Philippe Hostalery and I at Guild, one week after my colour and cut

Heck, I sang the praises of this place so much that even my good buddy Anseh popped in for a quick pre-interview blow dry by Guild's expert designer Andrew Mar after marveling at my magnificent mane.

Work it baby!

After a good gossip, a black coffee and some serious ghd action, Anseh left Guild with advert worthy hair and a smug grin - what better way to start an interview...other than maybe arriving with a basket of pie?

Your glam Guild experience can be booked here.