Design Luxury People Restaurants

Quique Dacosta + Quique Dacosta

Arts and Roses


Evelyn Waugh called life a “hamper of perishable goods”. Suppers literally are but this one’s for the memory bank. A triple starred Michelin chef cooking specially for Lavender’s Blue. It may be a long way from his eponymous restaurant near Valencia but, spoiler alert, Quique Dacosta is looking to open in London before too long. “The first thing is I love London.” Recognised as Spain’s leading chef heading up one of the world’s best restaurants, Quique digresses, “I wanted to be a DJ when I was young, not a cook. I’m too old for that now!” Music’s loss; cuisine’s gain.


“Don’t try this at home unless you have a Porcelanosa kitchen!” quips Quique. He has partnered with the luxury Spanish owned company to create a new kitchen design called Emotions. “My restaurant and Porcelanosa are neighbours. We share the same good quality and innovation so it was a natural experience.” Oak panels slide back to reveal everything and the kitchen sink: an element of surprise that is also a trademark of his cooking.


Please don’t eat the daisies,” sang Doris Day but she didn’t say anything about roses. Yup, the crimson petals are for eating. Surely the pebbles in the ceramic bowl aren’t? “Some are stuffed with Manchego and truffle,” Quique explains. “Others are actual pebbles. Choose carefully – we guarantee we don’t have dental security!” A wooden plate holds equally enigmatic objects, this time a cluster of brown, orange and green crispy leaves. They turn out to be made of root mushroom, orange peel and green pickled pepper. Easy. An apple and gold powder cocktail completes this introductory culinary voyage of discovery.


He points to the yellowish fish containers for the ceviche course. “We throw a lemon in the sea and two days later it comes back as a lemon fish! Valencia has a tradition of cured rare fish. This is fillet of sole in salt and sugar. The sauce is made out of the roasted bones of the fish. The kumquats are from the terrace of my restaurant. So are the lemons – we have 330 small citrus trees along our terrace. This soup has a chili and citrus aroma. The pineapple juice foam on top is for decoration.”





A frying pan of eggs appears. We’re warned things are about to become a little more complicated. More so? Shirley Conran famously remarked “life is too short to stuff a mushroom” but we discover not an egg. Quique stuffs the egg whites full of truffle under a jelly skin and covers them with a white asparagus shell and gold leaf. “The good thing is my food is always good!” Albarino Martín Códax and Rioja Crianza are served.


“In Valencia the most emblematic dish is paella,” confirms Quique. “When you Google Spanish food tapas comes up but tapas are from northern Spain, the Basque Country. Rice is the principal ingredient of paella and it is always served as a main course in Spanish tradition. There’s no cheese in this dish. I’ve used cream which is lighter than the parmesan texture of risotto. Black grated truffle and trumpet of chestnut mushroom make it dark with a lot of different textures. The rice is from the landscape in Valencia.”


“You fancy a little sweet? Why not?” Nothing is Ronseal (”does exactly what it says on the tin”) with Quique Dacosta but the name of his pudding is a clue. Strange Flowers. “You won’t know any of these flowers though! They have lots of aromatic flavours but aren’t as heavy as the mains which were very rich. Their very light vibrancy contrasts with the fishy and acidic flavours earlier.” Mango and lychee are two of the more recognisable ingredients. If anyone needs to sample a hamper for Quique Dacosta London, we’re on standby.



Mary Berry + The Violin Factory Waterloo London

Baking Hot

2 Mary Berry copyright

Through a garage, darkly. There is definitely light at the end of this tunnel. And some canapés. Forget over egged and under served East London. Waterloo is where it’s happening. All the groovers and quakers. No longer a rookery prone to humbuggery and skulduggery. Within earshot of the screeching brakes of commuter trains full of weary suburbanites is a low key brick terraced house which leads Tardis-style into a hidden former warehouse. Welcome to The Violin Factory. Lavender’s Blue are at this hipper than thou venue to chat exclusively to the original domestic goddess Mary Berry.

Back in the day when inbox was two words and Made in Chelsea meant quirky artwork, there was Mary. Her rise from person to persona to Personality of the Year 2013 can be charted from the new look to the lean in generation. “Lovely to see you,” she charms. “The first thing people ask me is ‘Are you on Facebook?’ The other thing people want to ask me is ‘What age are you?’ I’m 78.” Quite.

Home is the postcard pretty village of Penn in the Chilterns. “My husband takes the dog for a walk very early in the morning so that he doesn’t meet people! Our dog’s called Wellington and we’ve a cat, Primrose. It gives me time to cook on the Aga. I’ve had an Aga for the last 44 years. It never wears out.” The same could be said for her charisma and career. So far Mary’s published 70 bestselling cookery books. There’s nothing half baked about this one woman industry. She does, though, acknowledge the longstanding assistance of her PA Lucy Young. Pippa Middleton really did get the bum deal with her book.

“The recipes that I do are very much family recipes. We’re not chefs. They have a brigade behind them. There’s such pleasure in making something traditional like lemon drizzle cake. It’s great to get all the family round the dining table to find out what everyone’s been up to.” Then, with a twinkle in her eye Mary paraphrases Shirley Conran: “Life is too short to stuff a courgette.” She discloses the pleasure she receives from people using her recipes but it’s teaching that’s her real passion.

“But all you want to hear about is Bake Off!” As an experienced interviewee, second guessing is clearly second nature to Mary. “The Great British Bake Off. What a shock it was to get asked to be a judge on the programme. Now we’ve got seven million viewers. Gardeners’ World has 2.5 million. I love it too. We’ve been voted the best reality judges on TV. Simon Cowell watch out! The programme has got Britain baking.”

Mary Berry ©

Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc are so much fun to work with,” she says. “At the Baftas, Sue said to me ‘We’re in Row H. We’re far too far away from the stage to be winners!’” They won two Baftas. “How am I ever going to find my way down there was my main concern.” She did, just as she continues to help people find their way round the kitchen. Amidst the flotsam and jetsam of life, there are few constants. Except Mary Berry who’s an exceptional exception. And William Curley London Chocolates.

William Curley London Chocolates copyright