Thursday, April 20, 2017

The View From Up Here: The SkyGarden at 20 Fenchurch Street

Yes.  20 Fenchurch Street is that hulking form that you'll see rising above you

like someone's bad sci-fi dream as you gaze across the Thames from the Tate Modern

or Hay's Galleria at London Bridge.  It makes "the Shard" (across the river) look positively inspired, artistically speaking.

20 Fenchurch Street is otherwise known in London as the "Walkie-Talkie" or, the "Cheesegrater".

You can use your imagination (or click here).  Thankfully, there is the SkyGarden.  Free admittance.

Glorious views of changing London.  The Natwest Tower - at left - in the 80's and the "Gherkin" - at right - in the 90's once dominated the skyline.  But the City is astoundingly different now, with no signs of construction - and thus change - stopping, if one is judging by the building crane count.

Some liken the SkyGarden to an airport lounge.  But that IS a tiny bit excessive and unkind.

It's quite a pleasant place.  If you love light, greenery, clean air, open views and.....cakes.  (Plus two bars and two restaurants.)

Sadly.  Despite the compelling visuals, the 3-color cake at center left did not pass the discriminating 

Paradis palate test.  It was artificial tasting and too sweet and otherwise flavorless and expensive.  So you're forewarned.

There is a viewing platform outside.  Very cute seating inside also includes Stark bubble sofas and blankets for chilly days.

You must book your visit in advance.  Do NOT though, think that it will be an inexpensive outing with the kids and bring your own food (like my parents would have done).  THEY WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU.  

If you don't buy them some of those cakes!!!!!!!!!! Hello???!!!!!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Barrafina - Time Out Says Its London's Best Restaurant(s)

So who were we to argue with Time Out London?

It was Mr. Paradis' birthday and since he's a counter-sitting and tasty bites

(Adelaide Street:  Fennel, pear and radish salad and Oyster, lime and chilies)

kind of a guy, Barrafina seemed the obvious choice.  And a new London option

(Drury Lane: Scallop seviche)

in a town with endless options.  Centrally located with three locations meandering

(Drury Lane: Crab bun)

out of London's Soho (Leicester Square Tube) and around Covent Garden....

(Drury Lane: Sea bass special with pickled radishes and pepper aioli)

Barrafina is three Barcelona style tapas bars with three separate but somewhat overlapping menus.

(Adelaide Street: Doughnuts and Chocolate Sauce)

Most of the food is cooked right in front of you.  No reservations taken.  Counter seating mostly.  We had no problems getting in - and very much enjoyed - our 1:30-ish quieter lunchtime with sweet and solicitous servers.  It was so good, we went back the next week!  (Because you know, the good things in life don't always last so you have to grab them while you can.)


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Green and Pleasant Land That Loves Its Flowers

Leaving L.A. in Spring is hard as you might imagine - missing our epic wildflower bloom......

as well as developments in my own garden.

But missing Spring in England is hard, too.

Let's face it, there only so many numbers of Springs in any person's life......

And when the English do it so well in truly c-u-l-t-iv-a-t-e-d

ways.  It's such a gift.  That asks nothing back.

Only that you stop and linger for a moment, or several.

Inhale.  And celebrate.

Honor Mother Earth and your own time on the planet.

And make a promise to yourself

to buy some bulbs next fall.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

It's Spring! It's Spring! Isn't It? Oh YES. It is.

Just came back from two weeks of sunshine and mild temps in London.  Of all places.

Came back to a garden full of artichokes

and orchids.

Our California drought is OVER officially.  (Yay!)

How is Spring going where you are?  All pics above, Jo Chambers of Studio Legohead via Print and Pattern.   More L.A. and London pics soon!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Where the West Was Won.....Ricardo Breceda - Sculptor, Designer, Very Cool Dude

On our way to Anza Borrego Desert State Park the other day...

it was hard to miss these guys.  Perched on outcroppings and eventually....

MASSED - like a movie director's slightly deranged dream

on the long and winding road into the State Park.

The Paradis family and friends were not the ONLY people



All springing exuberantly from the minds and hands of a single man.

It was a reminder to us that you have to get off road.  Regularly.

Because it's not always on the major routes and roadways......that the race in life is won.

Sometimes you have to follow your own lead - as Mr. Breceda demonstrates, to arrive in Paradise.

Ricardo Breceda 

Check out his web page and that amazing, happy smile.  The guy has it totally figured out!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Lygon Street, Melbourne Australia - You Wouldn't Want to Miss It!

Thinking Australia might not be the kind of place with leafy-tree lined boulevards

and bustling cafes and street life?  Where people are happy to queue and chat in the heat while waiting to sample the latest and the greatest gelato flavor at Pidapipo?

Think OZ will be like all those other places with the same old stores selling the same old stuff?

THINK AGAIN!  And then book your flights quick for the Christmas Holidays

and take good advantage of the sales while the Ozzies are all at the beach.

Make sure to schedule in a big block of time for strolling up and down Lygon St. and poking your

nose into all the lovely Italian delis, pizzerie, and gelateria.  Or sample some handmade pasta.

Here the blondie Rachel Hunter type Ozzies cede the sidewalk to rugged featured - rosy bronzed

movie-type Misters and Misses because Lygon St. is, effectively Melbourne's Little Italy.

And as with many neighborhoods around which coffee bars and good happy Italian family restaurants

collect.....there are excellent toy and book/record stores on Lygon Street for pre-

and post dinner browsing, or last-minute gift purchasing for that special someone...

 who you'd like to keep quiet and very very happy so that you can enjoy your

hand-made pasta in peace in tete-a-tete with a few of your "Besties",  dahling.

"Readings" should be your destination for those books and/or records for your vinyl-file

mates and "Poppyshop" for those in your life who are eternally young.

If you favor "pesci" over pasta - Melbournians have a genius approach to fusion eating:

the sushi/fish bar where you can mangiare alla Giaponese with your sushi of choice

or stay gloriously old-school with good-old fried fish and chips.  All under the same roof

to be consumed at the same table, should you choose....and HEY, NOW, EVERYBODY'S HAPPY!

But before you leave the neighborhood or - erm - "precinct" as it's more properly called in OZ,

Make sure to stop into D.O.C. 

for impeccable Italian salumi, pantry-items and "AMORE".

You will probably find things you could only otherwise buy in Italy.

Everything is lovingly cared for and expertly presented.

Here too, you can get the fresh pastas and the sauces for your Thursday supper in, or Saturday

luncheon.  And thin-sliced luncheon meats to help you shrug off Sunday's noon-time hangover.

For the road, you can't go wrong if you

grab a couple of packets....Don't eat them ALL en route, cuz if you manage to get one home

to your honey - unopened and un-scoffed..... YOU WILL BE GOLD-EN!