I spy with my little eye... breakfast at La Serre.

After 3 years in Dubai, I was still looking for a proper pain au chocolat, and I had heard lots of good things about La Serre breakfast so one quiet and early morning, the Gentleman and I decided to give it a go.

The pain au chocolat was, indeed, as good as its reputation. I will definitively come back for more, but I will take away next time. I got a bit disappointed by the menu: I usually enjoy small menus but "bread selection" seemed a bit dry. Does it come with jam, honey, butter? No idea. It's like they were not even trying to sell their breakfast. 



When the food arrived (after the waiter spilled both our coffees... but I'm no one to talk: serving a coffee is something I've never been able to do, seriously), I found the omelet too heavy. I actually couldn't finish it. I had the impression that they had added cream, or maybe just too much butter, but the result was that it didn't agree with me, so I had half an omelet and half a pain au chocolat.
La Serre for breakfast, yes, but at home!




For more information about La Serre, click here.

I spy with my little eye... the Shiftette Natalie Morrison.

I haven't done interviews lately but I have to introduce you to Natalie! She is one of those focused women you can't tire. She doesn't stops until she got where she had decided to go and it is with the same determination that she switched from a law career to a retail one, creating Shift. Shift is a second-hand concept based online and on pop-up events. The motto? "Release, redefine, and radiate": like a lot of young successful women in Dubai, Natalie's wardrobe was getting more and more packed by the day, so she decided to do something about it. Shift allows you to lighten your hangers and gain space while giving you the opportunity to find that little black dress you were looking for: everytime you give an item away, you are rewarded by a system of points that allows you to shop. Perfect if you are a thriftshopping addict like me or you missed that little skirt last season, or just want to shop for free! I love the concept and I love the woman behind it: she is sharp, funny, full of ideas, and she is the perfect companion when I feel sarcastic!
So if your closets are a little too full or you have a sustainable fashion mindset, have a look at  Shift, and read on to learn more about Nat. 


1- If you could live in a painting, which one would it be?
I would love to inhabit a colourful and vibrant world like in a Miro painting.  Quirky and playful, yet with solid forms and shapes to provide context and boundaries.

2- If you could live in a different era, which one would you pick and why?
A combination of La Belle Epoque period and the 60s, both of which were periods of freedom and creativity, culturally, economically and in the arts/fashion world.

3- What piece of clothing reminds you of your mother/father?
Sunglasses and red lipstick, my mother's trademark.  She will always wear shades, whatever the weather and wakes up will full red lips.

4- What scent takes you right back to your childhood?
Cut grass, reminds me of sports fields and training for events like cross country, as well as playing in the fields near to where my grandparents lived outside of London.

5- When do you feel on holiday?
If I can hear the sea or have a good book I feel relaxed as if on holiday.

6- What designer would you take on a camel ride?
The British designer, Vivienne Westwood, her collections have told a story about British life, society and style.  I am sure she would have lots of entertaining stories about punk, culture, celebrities and much more.


7- Your favourite recipe to make?
That's a tough one, I love fish, so probably something simple like steamed fish with lots of great seasoning and herbs, with a salad. I prefer not to spend hours in the kitchen, unless I'm cooking for friends.

8- Best piece of advice you were ever given?
The only constant thing in life is change, thanks to my granddad.


9- What book changed your life?
As  a child I used to read John Grisham, it certainly sparked my interest in the legal world.


10- The movie you've watched 30 times but might watch again tonight?
I actually really can't watch a movie more than once or twice, I hate remembering the end. I can watch Westside story on repeat though. I used to love dancing around the house after watching musicals and watched them continually to annoy my younger brother.

11- Three favourite spots in Dubai?

Bab Al Shams for relaxation, La Petite Maison for dining and Safa Park for a walk and greenery.

I spy with my little eye... a French apple pie.

Last week I decided to make an apple pie, the easiest recipe on Earth.
Puff pastry being quite difficult to make, I usually just buy it. Make sure to butter your tin before you lay your pastry and don't forget to prick it with a fork.
Preheat your oven 180°C.
Then pick 2 or 3 red apples (pink ladies or golden), cut thin slices, 2-3 mm thick, and place them in your tin making sure they overlay each other.
Then just put your tin in the over for 40min. Your apples will cook and dry at the same time but that's ok. When the pastry is slightly golden, take the tin out of the oven.
Then in a small pan, heat a table spoon of apricot jam until it melts and gets liquid. Slowly brush your apple tart with the jam to give it a little bit of colour, shine and sugar.
Done!

 ... and yes, sometimes I have a vodka martini with my baking...


I spy with my little eye... vintage shopping in Stockholm.

I obviously couldn't pass by Stockholm without looking for the vintage shops. Good news is I didn't have to look too much since one of my favourite bloggers Elsa Billgren wrote a vintage Stockholm guide listing all the relevant shops a few years ago (click here for those interested)! I have to admit: it looked much easier on the map then in the streets. All the shops seemed to be in the same area but I wouldn't have been able to find them without the Gentleman and googlemap. I didn't expect such a spread out city: in Paris if you just walk around, you will stumble across cute little shops and cafes; in Stockholm, if you just wander, you are more likely to miss the interesting places. If felt like lots of restaurants or shops were hidden. I am not good at studying maps and guides, I am more of a wanderer and it usually works but I felt like Stockholm was a little bit more reserved than the Mediterranean cities I am used to.


Thanks to the Gentleman, we did find a few vintage shops which allowed me to spend a couple of hours doing what I do best: thriftshopping! I was very curious about the vintage culture in Sweden and I will definitively have to go back for more. We focused mostly on clothes this time, and I was lucky enough to find 2 dresses that are currently being altered at the tailor here in Dubai. Most dresses are too big for me or need to get the zipper changed but that usually doesn't stop me: too big is always fixable! 



In this Beyond Retro heaven, I would have loved to find hats, but I have come to notice that accessories were not their forte, hence I will have to come back for more. As you can see, I was very focused, there was no way I was leaving Sweden without a vintage treasure: Dubai is a desert is many ways and retro is one of them... Stay tuned for pictures of my 2 new vintage treasures: a rainbow and a cocktail dress!



Oh, and yes, it was freezing, hence the winter coat and Igg boots. It actually started pourring in the acfternoon which is why we had to stop the vintage hunt and find a shelter... and an Irish coffee! Not a bad alternative!

I spy with my little eye... lunch at Riche.

I am not finished yet with Sweden, I want to share a few other good tips: I couldn't pass by Stockholm without stopping for a lunch at Riche. Founded in 1893, this simple Brasserie has become an institution through the years. The elegant French interior design, simple menu and perfect location on the bank attracts people from all horizons, you will bump into the local celebrity, the family gathering for a birthday, the girlfriends catching up, the business man, I loved that simple mix. What a refreshing change from Dubai!



I didn't spend too much time on the menu: the choice was easy; when in Stockholm, you gotta have meatballs! And let me tell you that between the chilly weather and the 2h morning walk, I devoured them. 



Swedish design will always amaze me, look at that window decorated with local supermarkets logos. Who would have thought it could look this good? Pretty cool huh?


I spy with my little eye... our Vintage Market.

Back in Dubai, where vintage aficionados gathered yesterday at Make Business Hub for a Conversation on Vintage. Led by Rawya Catto, the event was meant to open the discussion about vintage, retro, the trends, the leading cities and assess where Dubai stands in that global context. We all know that Dubai is really not the capital of retro but it is an international hub, therefore like, everywhere, the interest is present to a certain extend, and this is why she invited me and my pincurls: to represent! The idea was to gather people with a common interest in all things retro, so Merci to the ones who came and shared their stories. 




That's one of my favourite things about vintage: I love the aesthetics, I love the fact that it's eco-friendly, sustainable, most of the time affordable, but most of all, it's full of stories. Every hat, piece of jewellery, book, piece of china, dress, even fabric sometimes, carries the memory of a grandmother, a grand uncle, or that moment when you found it under a big pile of junk, like a hidden treasure.



I'm a sucker for stories, history, and good surprises, so I'm looking forward to meeting you all at the next event and more thriftshopping through Rawya's vintage suitcases. She has been sourcing and flying back from Paris with retro items, so I will keep you posted and let you know when she organises her next pop up sale, you can also reach her directly at: rawyaroumieh@gmail.com


In vintage we trust!

I spy with my little eye... Pink Lemonade!

For Midsummer, Hanna decided to make lemonade. She chose a recipe with a twist: rhubarb and basil lemonade, such a beautiful pink colour!
We started with lemons and lime obviously.



Followed by rhubarb that we boiled with a little bit of sugar.



Next step was to mix the 2, filter it and leave it to cool down. We ended with a vibrant pink liquid, since it was a bit too strong, Hanna added sparkling water, ice, and the basil at the last minute.



I. and I both agreed: it was very tasty and incredibly refreshing, I will definitively remember this recipe.


Dubai, be ready for rhubarb and basil lemonade!


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