The closure of our delicious canteen, Il Cudega in East London has prompted me to write a feature on places that are very dear to me, to our family. They are places of warmth, of soulful engagement, and of genuine respect. They have created enduring and heartwarming memories, they will stay with us for all the years to come. These places weave the fibres of our family’s story. Follow me for a tour of my most cherished places around the world and bear in mind that I am not able to list them all right here and right now. I have had to make certain choices but trust me, these places are all one of a kind and will vanish one day, in this increasingly homogenised world, enjoy them whilst they are still around!
Il Cudega started as a charming story. Luca and Giovanni have been friends since they were eight years old, and they opened together this tiny restaurant and deli in one of London Field’s most unassuming railway arches. A simple place, full of simple pleasures – specifically the best organically-produced cheese, meats and wines from their home district of Lombardy, in Northern Italy. It was always hard for us to resist the sheer Italian-ness of Il Cudega – it means ‘pork scratching’- The simplicity of the black-and-white decor. the intriguing wine list. The contents of that deli counter, which make your stomach rumble like Pavarotti’s after an ovation-winning aria. Il Cudega was for us a place to drop in for a chat, drink a glass of wine, inhale a plate of mixed salumi and for mr B to polish off an espresso. Then: mwah, mwah! Kiss Giovanni goodbye and its back to real life. Yes talking about Brexit reality, The day Brexit was announced, I closed the office and took the team to Il Cudega for some lovely lombardian comfort. Paloma had her two last birthdays there with all her friends. Will miss you dearly Il Cudega!
Ode Porto Wine House in Porto is owned by a gorgeous couple, using only local and seasonal ingredients from small Portuguese producers , intimate environment, only a few tables and very personable customer service, you would almost want to spend the entire night there chatting with the passionate and humble owners.
Galeria Buena Vida in San Miguel de Allende is showcasing the most incredible selection of hand-painted cowboy boots, and I could not leave this shop without my first pair of red, black and white hand-stitched and hand-painted cowboy boots. When I ever wear these boots with a Comme des Garcons outfit, you bet I get many many comments, Mexico meets Japan !
Caza das Vellas was founded on the same day of the French Revolution, 14th of July 1789. They brought light into the dark narrow streets of Lisbon, once candle lighting was employed in cities. Another fact occurred back in 1845: The shop received a request to supply extra candles to illuminate the salon where Franz Liszt, the great Hungarian composer was to be received shortly before conducting a concert at the city’s grand Teatro Nacional de São Carlos. The shop has been in the Loreto family for seven generations, the shop is remarkable for its teak-panelled interior, the dark wood lending the premises a rich, organic veneer that’s immediately appealing and evocative of a less hurried and more dignified era. Actually, entering the shop is like stepping back in time. Every candle on sale is handmade. At the rear of the premises is a workshop where a busy team of artisans produce an imaginative variety, anything from traditionally-crafted slim taper candles to chunky, thickset pillars. There’s also a quirky selection of specialty candles moulded or sculptured into three-dimensional shapes such as fruit, birds and even cupcakes, they are so realistic-looking it’s difficult not to bite into them.
Energi Hotel is a bit out of the way but well worth the trip – about an hour from Odda on the southwestern coast of Norway. The hotel sits above an old hydro plant – which sounds weird but adds to the 1960s-James-Bond-style-glamour – and the views from the terrace are just incredible. We felt like we’d walked into a movie, with a waterfall on the left hand side, mountains, the Suldal lake. And we were the only guests that eerie night, still remember listening to Lift to the Scaffold by Miles Davis and reading a book by the fireplace, after a succulent dinner of freshly caught trout and garden vegetables.
With Luvaria Ulisses, prepare to step back in time to a quaint shop that can only fit one customer at a time. This charming Lisboete glove store relies on personal customer service and unparalleled expertise. The lovely lady behind the counter will size you by looking at your hand, and pull out gloves that have never been worn by anyone else. A wooden tool is used to open the gloves, you try them on, and they feel as if they were made for your own hand. The craftsmanship is second to none, the leathers are soft and supple, and the designs are elegant and beautiful. I bought a pair of lambskin gloves for Mr B and a pair of black lambskin gloves with beautiful cream stitching and cashmere lining for myself. Our chosen gloves were beautifully packaged in a silk bag and then a Luvaria paper bag.
Dear Rivington in NY is The best ever concept store (and with A Concept!) offering a truly brave curation of rare products and wares, sourcing and showcasing vintage Comme des Garcons, Yamamoto, lesser known Japanese and Korean designers, ceramics, objects, accessories, all one of a kind and not to forget the delightful handmade dolls dressed in miniature Comme des Garcons outfits. And display is ever changing and no it does not stock Gucci, Valentino, Vetements or YSL. What a fucking relief !Excuse the swear words!
Fogo Island Inn The absolute experience in one of the most remote places you can think of. All your senses are engaged. And learn about the story of Fogo, of its inhabitants and how the local economy was revived by a child of the island, Mrs Zita Cobb, who made a fortune as a top executive in a tech company.The Fogo Inn is her inspiring vision of a human community.
Powells Bookshop in Portland Is this the biggest bookshop in the world ? Get lost amongst shelves and floors of books on all sorts of subjects, new, vintage, rare, second hand, limited edition, out of print. You could just spend days there.
Lunuganga Sri Lanka is the exquisite house where renowned Sri lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa once lived, on the border of the Bentota river, we were the only guests that night and were treated like family. The grounds are just stupendous, amazing trees where monkeys are playing and jumping. The interiors are as breathtaking, the place seems like frozen in time.
The Museum of International folk art in Santa Fe, Absolutely whimsical and magical, for grown ups and kids. This place is amazing! The permanent collection room is filled to the brim with figurines, masks, and paintings from all over the world. Seeing the similarities of folk art across cultures makes the world seem vast and small at the same time.In my view, museums ought to be more than just a place to go to see stuff. Regardless of what they choose to display, exhibits should be allowed to truly connect the artists with their public in such a way that the pieces in the exhibit should speak for them. I enjoy museums that present more than the pieces I am seeing. I want to know more about the artists, who and where they are from, how their art is inspired and how it enriches people’s lives. Luckily, the Santa Fe Folk Art Museum does all that. Seeing how well respected the artists are in how the museum presents their art is appreciated. This museum is constantly bringing in new exhibits, presenting new artists from just about every corner of the world, and my favorite aspect of this museum is its connection to the community that supports it. They have outreach programs and opportunities for those who love folk art to be involved somehow. One such brainchild that came of of this museum is the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, and event that brings the artists to us, so we can truly connect with the art forms that are also exhibited in the museum. This museum offers an exquisite window into all kinds of cultures around the world, it presents an opportunity for the visitors to connect with history, traditions, ethnic peoples and cultures from around the world.
El Cosmico in Marfa, Love this place for people that love things that are off the beaten path, interesting, and with perfect attention to detail! We stayed in the largest trailer and would recommend that to anyone traveling with a young child, as you won’t have to cross the campsite at night to use the toilets! It’s “In the middle of nowhere” but really just a short drive or long walk to town which is nice. The Chinati foundation is a MUST. The shop in the lobby is our absolute favourite “hotel boutique”. We love the El Cosmico hoodies, the three of us own one! You can’t go to Marfa without spending a night or two at El Cosmico, in a trailer, a yurt or a tippee, as you wish and surely enjoy sleeping under a sky full of stars. Beware it can get very cold in the desert at night and you may encounter all sorts of animals roaming around.
The Joint in New Orleans Best barbecue, juicy spare ribs, great side dishes, loved the mac ‘n’ cheese and we loved the electric atmosphere, this place is in Bywater, a little out of the way, not in touristy French Quarter, and it was full of tattooed freaks and misfits.
Latteria in Milan is a tiny weenie restaurant serving the best Italian food, all simple dishes are cooked by la Mama if she is still alive, we went there years ago during Milan fashion Week, only maybe 5-6 tables and it fills up super quick, no reservations.
Galleria in Palm Springs for Ikebana vases from the Sixties, colourful textiles from Ouzbekistan, one-of-a-kind decorative objects, and the owner is such a character! We always make a stop when in Palm Springs!
Vancouver Museum of Anthropology is definitely one of the most breathtaking museums I have ever wandered in, absolutely fascinating.I am a huge fan of Indigenous historical artefacts, so the totems alone were a draw. But as we explored further it became clear this place was much more. Aisle after aisle, drawer after drawer of artefacts, so many we soon realised we had underestimated the amount of time we would need. Everything is catalogued, organised and, where possible, given explanation. It is very apparent that this museum is a labor of love of culture, history, and archaeology.