Trinity Upstairs Restaurant Clapham London +

Tea for Two

We’ve gone up (stairs) in the world. Enter The Old Town, cross The Pavement, round The Polygon, we’re back at our local, only a storey higher enjoying an elevated position this time:

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The House of Lavender’s Blue + Attitude

The Final Show

Our magnus opus. Crescendo. An operatic high. We’ve got attitude and Attitude have got us. In a world exclusive, Lavender’s Blue the interiors (and a flash of beyond – how’s the garden?) are revealed in all their splendour in Europe’s whirl of interiors magazine, Attitude Interior Design. The Porto based publication was the perfect platform for launching our mission accomplished, a rocketing decade of shopping decorating. Closer to home, a national newspaper was keen to capture the images: The Irish Times. And the most read homes magazine on that sage and shamrock island, Ireland’s Homes Interiors + Living, celebrated Lavender’s Blue in style with a lavish spread. Phew. It’s a (very well rounded) wrap. Our writing may veer towards minimalism, occasionally. Our interiors do not. They feature some rather demanding garniture. Grab your monocle as we live up to our wallpaper. So what do the great, the good and the truly marvellous have to say?

lavender's blue courtyard zelda © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Alfred Cochrane, Artist + Architect: “Amazingly atmospheric as always. You have stood your ground and there is now a vogue again for retro country house nostalgia with a dash of Tolstoy or Turgenev where Daddy Vladimir would gladly go topless. Keep looking towards the East.”

lavender's blue courtyard © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Annabel P, Muse + Amanuensis, “Darlings, so many parties, so little time. What interiors?”

lavender's blue courtyard plaque © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Anne Davey Orr, Artist + Publisher: “I have been witness to a number of interiors which you have designed in the past.  However, none of them expressed this eclectic taste, this creative marrying of objects or these transformational powers so successfully as Lavender’s Blue itself does. In a kind of way it is a pied á terre of curiosities in which the curiosities, including you, spin off and enhance one another.”

lavender's blue courtyard sculpture © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Annabella Forbes, Actor, Art Director, Copywriter, Designer, Film Director, Ideator, Naming Consultant, Presenter, Product Innovator, Script Writer + Strategist: “It’s AMAZING! It’s fab, fab, fab!”

lavender's blue courtyard morning coffee © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Caroline Clifton Mogg, Writer: “London is a city of secret gardens, a place where plain faced streets give little away of what lies there, and where few individual facades give any clues as to the streets behind their all-embracing walls. Protected and hidden by their house the best gardens are a fusion of inside and outside… Whatever secret a garden may reveal, it will always surprise and delight those who discover it for the first time.”

lavender's blue courtyard tailor's dummy © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Dr Charlotte Blease, Cognitive Scientist + Philosopher of Medicine: “It is uncanny. You are the inheritor of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s style. I’m calling it EE – Eccentric Eclecticism.” Louise Hall Tharp, Isabella Stewart Gardner Biographer: “Mrs Gardner bought her Rembrandt with the intent of developing a real museum collection… The rooms are notable for their calculated intimacy and informality – their almost bric-a-brac juxtapositions of paintings, sculptures, drawings, pastels, letters, manuscripts, ceramics, decorative objects, and artefacts. She imitates nobody; everything she does is novel and original.”

lavender's blue courtyard ivy © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Inês Graça, Attitude Interior Design Interiors Editor: “What does one see upon entering this inner world? Broad temporal and spatial references and the thoughtful organisation of a passionate collection. Those of culture are present because of the elegance and knowledge that makes itself apparent. Singularity and extravagance define Lavender’s Blue: a hidden refuge inspired by Irish country houses named after 18th century lavender fields. A little piece of secret London that invites guests to be part of an immersive and unique experience. Fue maravilloso.”

lavender's blue courtyard statue © lavender's blue stuart blakley

John Curran, UK’s First Shigeru Ban Client: “I knew it would be interesting, but had no idea that it would be among the most engaging private interiors I have seen photographed. We pride ourselves as collectors of things we love, but you put us to shame. Having discussed John Soane at our coffee, I will somewhat shyly draw the comparison with the museum, knowing that I am not the first to do so. I have great appreciation for objects that attract the owner and that give a window into the person. Your home very much does that.”

lavender's blue outer hall © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Karla W, Heiress, “Lavender’s Blue is my absolute favourite; you have recreated a 1920s Parisian salon in present day London. The photographs are ravishing but you can only truly appreciate it in the flesh, especially by night. All the rooms are terribly, terribly smart in every sense. Every time I’m at yours I become obsessed with some fascinating detail I never noticed before. Lavender’s Blue is a rare evolutionary wonder. You’re like the sun, always coming up shining. How’s Zelda?”

lavender's blue outer hall view © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Mary Martin, Fashion Designer: “LOVE it! You’re a genius! You should do interior design! It’s exactly the taste I have! Your rooms remind me of the inside of Cardiff Castle which I used to visit as a child.”

lavender's blue drawing room view © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Mary Weaver, Houses Editor Living Etc, “Your home is so charming and original.”

lavender's blue drawing room © lavender's blue stuart blakley

lavender's blue drawing room piano © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Maud Rabin, Parisian Translator, “Your home is so stylish! Très très chic!”

lavender's blue drawing room window © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Michael S Howard, Managing Director Rasa Hospitality, “Your home is AMAZING! How fabulous is that?”

lavender's blue drawing room table © lavender's blue stuart blakley

PJ Gibbons, Editor Social + Personal, “Your house looks beautiful.”

lavender's blue drawing room urn © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Régis Camus, World’s Top Chef de Cave, “C’est magnifique!”

lavender's blue drawing room clerestory © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Dame Rosalind Savill OBE, Former Director The Wallace Collection + Sèvres World Expert, “I just LOVE it! It’s so smart. It’s so exquisite.”

lavender's blue drawing room watch © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Sandra Jonas, Former Model + Landscape Designer Georgia: “You are gorgeous!!! Zelda is so beautiful.”

lavender's blue inner hall © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Samantha Laurie, Editor Wandsworth Magazine, “What a beautiful home you have created! Are you an interior designer?”

lavender's blue inner hall cabinet © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Sheila Molloy, Châtelaine Gaultier Lodge + Castle ffrench, “Your place looks fantastic, full of the things I love. Is the cat alive or dead? My kitchen in Gaultier when it was upstairs was painted a very similar colour blue called Lobaelia pre Farrow and Balls days, Dulux I think. I saw it in the kitchen at Emo Court when Cholmeley Harrison had it about 1978!!!”

lavender's blue bathroom © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Sara Larkham, Editor Ireland’s Homes Interiors + Living: “Your home is spectacular! It’s stunningly unique and transports guests back in time… a truly unique home in London filled with character and charm.”

lavender's blue kitchen © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Simon O’Hara, Châtelain Coopershill House, “Very interesting interiors.”

lavender's blue kitchen china © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Tamar Madmoni Reich, New York Philanthropist + Holistic Health Coach, “Your home is beautiful!”

lavender's blue kitchen sink © lavender's blue stuart blakley

William Thuiller, Art Dealer + Collector: “It’s quite lovely. I love the layered textures, colours, patterns and atmosphere… sort of Leighton House meets Soane Museum, if that’s not patronising! It’s completely alien to my usual taste, in that I would never have bought any individual item, but it works superbly as an ensemble against that rich blue on the walls.”

lavender's blue master bedroom © lavender's blue stuart blakley

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The House of Lavender’s Blue +

Heirlooms and eBay

the house of lavender's blue entrance hall © lavender's blue stuart blakley

Encountering beauty through the Tuscan glow of our evanescent world, sidestepping the modish whilst fleeing complex status, in a reordering of hierarchies we’re decluttering our very existence.

the house of lavender's blue drawing room © lavender's blue stuart blakley

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Core Restaurant London + Clare Smyth

La Dulse Vita

Crowned the world’s best female chef, even before she rustled up the wedding supper for Prince Harry and Baroness Kilkeel, it was only a matter of time until Northern Ireland born Clare Smyth MBE would put her own name above the door. “For about 15 years of my life I’ve spent working in three Michelin star restaurants,” Clare recalls. “The last 10 years I spent heading up Gordon Ramsay’s flagship restaurant – I was a partner with him. It was a very traditional style of cooking with beautiful ingredients. I just had a burning desire to do something new, a new challenge for me, and it became Core. Core meaning my heart, the seed of something new. It was a very special moment for me.” Previous experience included working for Alain Ducasse, Heston Blumenthal and the Roux Brothers.

Core by Clare Smyth is in the heart of Notting Hill. Kensington Park Road bisects this stunning stablished stuccoed world of terraces and crescents and circuses. “People offer you glass boxes in the City but I wanted something with character,” she says, “I’ve always had a passion for neighbourhood restaurants.” Her space occupies the ground floor of a block of three terraced houses. “We found a building that was built in 1861,” she explains. “It had lots of Victorian character but it was a shell; it was a mess. We had to do so much work to the building; it was a disaster, but a great journey! Inside, it had lots of beautiful features but as we started to pull it apart, the foundations crumbled, the drains fell in. It got very very delayed. This was my first project. It was a big project to take on. I started this from writing the business plan myself all the way through to going to the bank – concept, everything.”

As far as neighbourhoods go you don’t get much better than this. Next door to Core is St Peter’s Notting Hill. Like much of this swanky area’s architecture, the Grade II* Anglican church (designed by Thomas Allom) dates from the mid 19th century. It’s still an active contributor to the community. Vicar Pat Allerton says, “Whether you’re a lifelong Christian or just asking questions, you’re really welcome. We’re a church family doing our best to follow Jesus Christ, love one another and offer hope to our local community.” Jonathan Aitken, MP turned Prison Chaplain, recently preached at St Peter’s.

A more recent architectural addition to Notting Hill – not that you’d guess it at a glance – is architect Demetri Porphyrios’s residential building behind Core. Chepstow Villas, as you’d imagine, are chunky detached houses and Demetri’s infill looks like its neighbours, both in scale and style. Number 48 is stuccoed with two chunky bays rising through three lofty storeys to prop up an open pediment. But it was only completed in 1989 and is actually a block of purpose built apartments. Then of course there’s Portobello Market… so little time, so many distractions… but we’ve swashbucklingly swept into W11 for the Portobello mushrooms.

Booking three months ago, the last available table was for noon. Maybe that’s what happens when a restaurant’s so current it swoops up two Michelin stars a year after opening. And now she’s the star of a Netflix series, Clare Smyth has swiftly migrated from a name to those-in-the-know to the household variety. She’s upbeat about her industry: “The culinary scene’s phenomenal. Right across the UK we have brilliant world leading restaurants and we have a generation of chefs that have really made it their own.”

Clare has certainly made it her own. “I’ve worked very hard, it’s not just happened overnight. I don’t pinch myself and think ‘I’m lucky’. I think ‘I left home at 16 to become a chef and I worked for it’.” Indeed. “You want to be successful, you want your business to be successful, so you’ve always got to make sure you stay ahead of the game. I try to be better every day.” As to be expected at three figure prices per head, there’s a high sommelier to consumer ratio and even higher waiter to waited on quota. It’s a 54 cover dining room. We’re at Table Five: there is no Siberia. The beautiful people are here and there are some quite attractive couples at the other tables.

Upon arrival, Clare herself – tall, blonde, elegant – stands smiling waving at us from behind the kitchen window. After lunch we will chat to her in the kitchen. Like everything about Core, the menu is beautifully presented with great contents and a personal touch; it’s signed by Clare and her Chefs. The plates are decorated with her fingerprint, reflecting the Marc Quinn giant fingerprint pictures hanging on the walls. Naturally lit by two arched windows, the dining room is comfortably luxurious and luxuriously comfortable.

And so to the menu. “The beginning: lobster and black truffle thermidor gougères. Pepper and olive tart. Veggie Core Fried Chicken and caviar. Core Caesar Salad.” The tart shell is made of crab stock. “Colchester crab: black truffle, celery and red apple. Potato and roe: dulse beurre blanc, herring and trout roe. Seabass: oysters, cucumber and caviar. Celeriac: roasted over wood with black truffle and hazelnut. The other carrot. Snow ball: chestnut, vanilla, pine, eggnog.” The seabass is line caught from Cornwall. The celeriac is soft baked for four hours. The other carrot is posh carrot cake in the shape of a carrot. “The end: white truffle and hazelnut choux. Champagne jelly.” Shoot the moon, the food is fabulous, utterly knockout! It surpasses our wildest expectations and our expectations are pretty wild. Culinary art beautifully sculpted.

Clare hales from a farm near Bushmills, County Antrim. The north coast has two native delicacies: yellowman and dulse. The former is a chewy toffee textured honeycomb. The latter is a purply edible seaweed. Yellowman might not make an appearance on the menu – “I’ve made it once!” Clare admits – but dulse does. In fact, dulse beurre blanc is part of her signature potato dish. It’s good to see that a chef of such international standing hasn’t forgotten her roots. When Michel Roux Junior had Clare’s “potato and roe” he called it “divine”.

In fact Clare declares, “Core is all about being British as much as we can right through to the core, so I really wondered why in my career we were using everything coming from France? I really questioned everything before we opened. I thought, well, why can’t we use British plates? Why can’t we use British designers? We had a 300 year old tradition of making the finest bone china in the world in Stoke-on-Trent but when you go there now there’s huge unemployment and those cultures and traditions have almost died out.” She’s on a mission: “So I was like I’m going to have them make my plates; I’m going to use Sheffield steel; I’m going to use British wood. We source our scallops from The Ethical Shellfish Company on the Isle of Mull. The millers than make the flour for our bread, Wessex Mill, are a fifth generation family owned business. So Core is very much a project from the heart.”

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Belvedere Restaurant Holland Park + Holland House London

Sequentia

The told untold. Belvedere was once the Summer Ballroom of Holland House. Jacobethan and all that. Yeah yeah all very interesting but where’s the St Véran (O+C Club favourite)? Sorted. This restaurant is housed in a gorgeous fragment of a great house, a remnant of glory rebuilt, a figment of imagination realised. Halcyon days | salad days | Holland days. Saucy. And that’s before the Marie Rose with prawn cocktail and caviar arrives. Lavender’s Blue intern Annabel P is here and on form. And she’s got form.

Main course is fillet of sea bass, Jerusalem artichokes and mushroom dipped in balsamic jus. A winning formula. But hey we’re distracted by the fenestration. It’s a very glassy affair. Jigsaw panes of intersecting hexagons and rectangles reflect the timber herringbone floor. We’re transfixed. And that’s before we realise this place is really an art gallery masquerading as a restaurant. Mulled wine jelly with vanilla crème fraîche distracts our minds for a cold minute. Wait! What do Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol have in common? You guessed it! Belvedere.

The formidable Karla W rocks up working it and then some: black trilby, black jacket, black polo, black shades, black stilettos. Black is the new black. Some days, formal lunch blurs into informal dinner into the velvety night into the evanescent. Days like this. The Summer Ballroom has renewed midwinter purpose. It’s got form. The untold unfolded.

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Galeries Lafayette Haussmann + Angélina Restaurant Paris

A Tale of Two Citizens

The Ritz Hotel Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” Gore Vidal

Place Vendôme Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Midday in Paris. Printemps is the Harrods of Paris | Le Bon Marché is the Liberty of Paris | Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is the Selfridges of Paris. We’re bound for Lafayette’s Angélina restaurant. In the ultimate BYO experience, we’ve brought our own Champagne. Rare Champagne 2002 and Rare Rosé Champagne 2007, no less. It helps that we’re lunching with Régis Camus, the world’s most decorated Chef de Cave, even more no less. Over oeufs brouillés à la brisure de truffe d’été (scrambled eggs with summer truffle breakings) and salade de saumon fume, chèvre frais, avocat, tomates grappes, pomélo, salade romaine (smoked salmon salad, fresh goat’s cheese, avocado, tomatoes on the vine, grapefruit, romaine lettuce), Régis shares his top tips for enjoying bottled glamour:

Le Meurice Hotel Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Rare Le Secret Champagne in House of Mellerio Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

  • “Temperature is first. It should be between 10 and 12 degrees centigrade for our Rosé and 12 to 14 degrees for Rare Le Secret Champagne.
  • The glass is very important: it is good for wine to be poured in a big glass to express itself. A small quantity in a big glass; 65 percent full maximum. Serve often to keep the perfect temperature.
  • Open the bottle delicately. Don’t turn the cap, turn the bottle.
  • The colour of all wines is either good or not. For example, rosé is not good if it is the colour of onion skin. The amazing colour of Rare Rosé Champagne 2007 has amber and copper tones. I was inspired by the stained glass windows of the Cathedral of Reims when the sun shines through. The Cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Reims and is where the Kings of France were crowned.”

Rare Champagne Lunch © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Successful Champagne moments are more than mere formulae though. “Feel the joy of the colour with your eyes, the colour of life! It’s vibrant, radiant, expressive! The key is to create pleasure, to discover the smile in discovering Champagne.” Monsieur Camus props the House of Lavender’s Blue brochure on the lunch table to form a backdrop to the Rare Rosé Champagne bottle. The following day, another bottle of Rare Champagne 2002 will take pride of place in the House of Lavender’s Blue itself. After lunch at Angélina, we stroll along the golden streets past the Palais Garnier with all its ghosts, making our way through Place Vendôme, gazing at The Ritz and grazing at Hôtel Le Meurice. It’s time to roar again. Ouhouah!

Rare Champagne Box @ Lavender's Blue © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“When she was young, Loulou wanted action and fun all the time… she was in a hurry.” Eric Boman on Loulou de la Falaise

Rare Champagne @ Lavender's Blue © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Castle Dobbs Carrickfergus + Sir Charles Lanyon

Two Faced

Castle Ward is the most famous example of architectural schizophrenia in Ulster. High street bank neoclassicism one front; Strawberry Hill Gothick, the other. The two main elevations are stylistically divorced from each other. The two styles of Castle Dobbs may be closer relatives in taste but intertwine on the same elevations. It’s (likely) an early 18th century James Gibbs Pattern Book house with (likely) mid 19th century Sir Charles Lanyon accretions creeping round it like ivy.

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Mellerio Paris Platinum Handbag + Fingernails

Les Nouveaux Jeunes

Sometimes you just gotta have matching fingernails and accessories. “Mellerio jewellery is bespoke. We make whatever you want,” says Director of Communications Diane-Sophie Lanselle with suave understatement. “We’ve made jewellery for all the grand aristocratic families.” This vintage platinum set dates from the 1960s and is on display in the lower ground floor showroom. The House of Mellerio at 9 Rue de la Paix is an hôtel particulier of artistry and luxury: two floors of showrooms, a design studio, a workshop and offices. Best of all are the hidden archives. Deep in the darkness beneath the City of Light, priceless records of designs and clients are kept in temperature gauged perfection.

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St Ernan’s House + Island Donegal

A Singular Existence

Lack | Kesh | Toome. The nomenclature of the villages en route to St Ernan’s Island resonates with monosyllabic North West Ulster brusqueness. Pettigo may sound more reticent but it’s full of robust no nonsense Georgian buildings backing onto the Termon River. Just before entering the jollity of Donegal Town and Magee “Specialists in Donegal Tweed” who are, for those who know best, also Specialists in lunch at the Weaver’s Loft Café, turn left, veer right, get lost, turn left again, go round the bend (physically not metaphorically), and straight ahead is the destination that inspired a murder mystery. A pink house bathed in lilac Donegal light immortalised in Paul Charles’ colourful thriller St Ernan’s Blues.

Professor Alistair Rowan, North West Ulster: “This was the island retreat of John Hamilton of Brown Hall (1800 to 1884) the author of ‘Sixty Years Experience as an Irish Landlord’. Mr Hamilton took a romantic fancy to the island, laid out a pretty garden on it, with a wall round the shore, and built a two storey Regency style cottage there between 1824 and 1826. It is five windows long with a continuous verandah running the length of its front across canted bays at either end.

The setting is indeed glorious, but the romantic whim of a young and newly married proprietor proved inconvenient. For most of each day the island was cut off either by the tide or, worse, by impassable shallows of mud. The construction of a causeway, despaired of by professional engineers, was achieved by Hamilton with free labour from the surrounding country.”

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Rare Le Secret Champagne + Expérience Paris

A Revolutionary Idea

Possibly the best excuse ever to visit Paris, France. Rare Champagne, the multiple award winning Champagne, and Mellerio, the oldest jewellery dynasty in the world (founded in the 16th century), have combined their exceptional talents, refined excellence and muse affinity to create a truly prestigious treasure. Rare Le Secret High Jewellery is an exclusive cuvée from the Champagne House of Rare in a bottle decorated by French jewellers Mellerio. Customers are invited to have the decoration of the bottle transformed into a bespoke piece of jewellery by Creative Director Laure-Isabelle Mellerio once its contents have been consumed.

A bottle of Rare Le Secret High Jewellery decorated with a diamond is priced $170,000 or with a ruby, emerald or sapphire, $150,000. Out of 10 bottles worldwide, there are now just three available in Harrods London, one in Takashimaya Tokyo, one in Galleries Lafayette Haussmann Paris and one in the US through the Rare Champagne Ambassador Jonathan Boulangeat and Kyle Kaplan. American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson reckoned, “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” Even better, a walk about Paris en route to the studio of Mellerio will provide a lesson in luxury.

The story began in 1997 when Régis Camus, Rare Champagne Chef de Cave, had an epiphanic moment. He realized there was something special in the sparkling wines of that year and rather than declaring a vintage, he blended a small quantity of this cuvée behind closed doors, secretly ageing it in magnums. Now, 21 years later, the results are extraordinary. Régis’ personal creation has a rare depth and rich complexity, hitting lively citrus highlights while delivering tranquil notes.

This sophisticated finesse, a zenith of Champagne production, launched the collaboration between tastemakers Rare Champagne and Mellerio. “Marie-Antoinette is a natural link between our maisons,” explains Laure-Isabelle. Their shared royal patronage dates from 1780 when the Queen of France acquired a Mellerio bracelet formed of seven Ancient Roman cameos enriched with garnets. The bracelet is now on display in Mellerio’s showroom. She smiles: “Mellerio brought glamour to the Court!” Records show all the Queens of 19th century Europe bought the House’s jewellery. Ever the sybarite, Her Majesty would enjoy her first taste of Rare Champagne a few years later.

Laure-Isabelle suggests, “The refined world of Rare Champagne instantly guided my hand.” Her design for Rare Le Secret High Jewellery takes inspiration from Marie Antoinette’s extravagantly silhouetted dresses. It features a single precious jewel of at least one carat embedded in a heart of interwoven gold bands set with 510 diamonds. The gold and platinum threads swirling down the bottle, reminiscent of the flow and structure of haute couture, represent the blend of Chardonnay minerality and Pinot Noir intensity. The 24 carat solid gold muselet cap is a first, even for Champagne! The enigmatic matt black presentation box with its silver mirrored interior resembles the cases of jewellery presented to Marie Antoinette. Indeed, it resembles a Versailles salon in miniature.

A second design has also been created. The classic simplicity of a gold cartouche is reflected in the golden mirrored interior of its majestic case. Inside each bottle is the same blend of Rare Champagne. The Rare Le Secret Goldsmith is a limited edition of 1,000 numbered and engraved magnums. It is priced at $2,000. In New York, this edition is available in Baccarat, Sherry Lehmann and Sotheby’s. Harrods London also stocks Rare Le Secret Goldsmith.

Rare Le Secret is perfect to enjoy right away,” explains Régis, “and will still be at optimum quality until 2021.” It goes well with scallop carpaccio, hot oysters, and truffle risotto. Nose, palate and view are three ways to describe bubbly. So what’s the verdict from the House of Rare? Nose: subtle salty and mineral notes with aromas of liquorice, candied tropical fruit and bergamot are followed by dried fruit and powdery floral notes. Palate: after a lively attack of Menton lemon and citrus fruits, nuances of fresh apricot, vetiver and verbena express a serene minerality. Hints of acacia honey and incense develop an oriental and smoky vinosity and ethereal finish. View: dazzling. Graceful bubbles rise in beautiful ribbons and produce a delicate sparkle.

Régis calls it “the secret within Le Secret”. That is, the transformation of something precious to drink into something precious to wear. A private visit to Maison Mellerio will allow Laure-Isabelle to turn Rare Le Secret High Jewellery’s bottle adornment into a brooch, bracelet or pendent. It’s the ultimate multisensory journey from cellar to atelier. The House of Mellerio is on Rue de la Paix, the most prestigious shopping area in the city’s Second Arrondissement. It’s between the First Arrondissement (Tuileries) and the Ninth (Lafayette). “Mellerio has been at this address for almost two centuries now. We were the first luxury goods company to open on Rue de la Paix. Cartier arrived relatively recently in 1898!” relates Mellerio’s Director of Communications Diane-Sophie Lanselle. Five star glitz of The Ritz, Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme and Le Meurice is mere seconds away along this stretch of the River Seine.

Galignani, the first English bookshop to be established on the European Continent, is nearby. “It’s the Hatchards of Paris,” says Directrice Générale Danielle Cillien Sabtier referring to London’s finest bookshop. “The concept is a space for encounters and cultural exchanges.” The bookshop is on Rue de Rivoli set behind an arched stone colonnade. So Haussmann, so Parisian. In the 19th century, William Thackeray was a regular customer. Last century, Ernest Hemingway enjoyed its reading room. This century, Karl Lagerfeld is a fan. Mr Thackeray called Galignani, “The exile’s best friend.” Is it Rare Champagne-o’clock again? To repeat, possibly the best excuse ever to visit Paris, France.

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