Sunday, 28 September 2014

Wedding Talk: Veejay Floresca (and a quick glimpse of his new Madore collection)

Veejay Floresca is one of the most sought-after bridal designers in the Philippines and is quite known for her signature "frou frou" touch. When I chose her to create a custom designed gown for our wedding, my friends were surprised as her looks are usually romantic, feminine, and ethereal (ie three words you won't particularly use to describe my personality).

So why Veejay? 

Well, she's a really awesome designer and her talent goes beyond bridalwear. I've always been a fan - from when she joined a lingerie design competition sponsored by my college org to her Project Runway Philippines stint to her various international fashion week featured collections. Currently based in San Francisco finishing her MFA in Fashion Design, Veejay does everything with the help of her equally talented team in Manila (Ms Annie, Bryan, Kylie).

Veejay & I in London, Circa 2011.

She's a dream to work with and designer-client rapport is important to me. She's listened to what I wanted without sacrificing her design aesthetic so it was a pretty good collaboration. I'm very happy with the final result and I can't wait to wear my dress! 

The cherry on top? Her extremely happy disposition in life is so infectious, you'd feel like you've been bitten by a bug of positivity.

Now a couple of years ago, Veejay launched Madore, his version of "lower priced luxury" line (think White by Vera Wang or Bliss by Monique Lhuillier). Unlike other bridal brands, they sell the gowns Ready-To-Order which means each frock is tailored perfectly to each bride. Clients can choose a design and his team would create a new gown based on their personal measurements, colour and neckline preferences.

He's just launched his third Madore collection and as always, the dresses are absolutely covetable. You can zoom in on the images to view the impeccably crafted details and check out how affordable these dresses are on the website.

Veejay Floresca MadoreVeejay Floresca Madore
Veejay Floresca MadoreVeejay Floresca Madore
Veejay Floresca MadoreVeejay Floresca Madore
Caramoan (I love the skirt!)
Veejay Floresca MadoreVeejay Floresca Madore
Veejay Floresca MadoreVeejay Floresca Madore
 El Nido
Veejay Floresca MadoreVeejay Floresca Madore
 Guimaras (I love the texture of the top! No beading here!)
Veejay Floresca MadoreVeejay Floresca Madore
Veejay Floresca Madore
La Union
Veejay Floresca MadoreVeejay Floresca Madore
Veejay Floresca Madore
Veejay Floresca MadoreVeejay Floresca Madore
Veejay Floresca MadoreVeejay Floresca Madore

Aren't they all pretty?

If you want a bespoke gown or if you fancied one of the Madore frocks, do watch this video:

I can't wait to start fitting my dress and do fittings! Thank you Veejay, and thank you Team Floresca! =)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Barrafina Covent Garden: where the sister (restaurant) struts off her stuff

I have mad love for Barrafina on Frith Street but the long queues can be quite off-putting. Admittedly, the food is worth the wait but sometimes a growling stomach can unleash a hangry potty mind. So when they set up a second restaurant on Adelaide Street (which is a stone's throw away from work), I knew I had to test it with G & Plaid Boy.

So what's the difference? Adelaide Street has a lower ground space that can be used for group bookings and private events. The menu is - dare I say - more exciting than Frith Street too. It showcases some choice plates of suckling pig, rabbit shoulder, calamari sandwiches, lamb's kidney's, etc. Prices are very tapas-bar cheap and the most expensive thing on the menu is every carnivore's dream: chuleton (t-bone steak) at £65 per kilo.

The restaurant was already packed at 6.30pm but we only waited for around 10 minutes to be seated. Success! We had a pretty good view as well!

We started off with chipirones (£7) and it was just as good as I remember. I could not stop myself from munching!

From the specials board, we ordered the cod cheeks (£6.50). Slightly disappointed with this one as I thought it was quite bland. Even the harissa sauce didn't lift the flavours of this dish.

We then had the arroz de Marisco (£9.8) which was the dish that did it for me. The seafood tasted fresh and there was enough of it to share without us fighting over a lone prawn or an octopus tentacle. The rice was cooked perfectly and the sauce, though quite heavily seasoned, was decadently rich and smoky. I am licking my lips as I type.

G & Plaid Boy shared a tortilla. They got the one with prawns, garlic stalks and 'shrooms (£7). I did not partake on this little journey. Because... egg.

I did, however, eat more than my fair share of the quail escabeche (£8.8). Whilst my companions preferred the grilled quail at Frith Street, I liked this little birdy more, particularly because of the mind game we played. I didn't think I'd like it because 1) I don't like mixing fruit with protein; 2) it did not look like the escabeche I had in mind. So when the apricots and sultanas delivered the familiar sweet and sour taste of the escabeche I'm used to... magic.

My dining buddies were on the brim of food coma, but I felt we had to have a bit of red meat so I ordered the Iberico pork ribs (£8.8). I imagined it grilled, glazed and dry but it came bathed in sweet sauce (perhaps a bit of Pedro Ximenez?) and dusted with chives. It's a winner dish, with the meat fall-off-the-bone tender and the a balanced sauce that elevates the pork flavour.

Overall, I enjoyed dinner. Service was impeccable and food was outstanding. Oh, and the toilets were much cleaner and larger. Granted, it's still new, but there's a good way of maximising space. This sister restaurant is definitely a great testament to the Barrafina brand.

Barrafina Adelaide Street
10 Adelaide Street, Covent Garden, London WC2N | For Private Dining & Events Enquiries: +44(0)20 7440 1456
Ave spend pp: £35
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Square Meal

Monday, 22 September 2014

6 Tracks for September 2014

September's been pretty great. Life's been peppered with short but sweet visits from Plaid Boy and some friends from Manila, a really great work month and an amazing Indian Summer. I’m also counting down til I have to fly out for my wedding prep holiday. *gulp*. Good thing I have pretty chilled tunes on loop at the mo to calm me down!

alt-J - Lovely Day 
This has got to be one of the best covers I've heard of Bill Withers' iconic tune. The arrangement is perfect for cool, crisp mornings and your Autumnal end-of-day reprieve. The band's second album, This Is All Yours, is a very good follow-up to An Awesome Wave.

Ryan Adams - Feels Like Fire
I can list all the reasons why I love artists like Ryan Adams but I'll just direct you to open Spotify and have a mindblowing ride. His new self-titled album is steady. There's a certain feel of loss and longing (some songs stemming from something possibly painful) but there's also hope. Lots of it.

Conway - Shut Up
I love a good 80's-sounding catchy tune. This track is very pop, trip-happy, and reminiscent of those songs you hear in classic John Hughes films. The type of teen films they don't seem to have much of these days.

Maroon 5 - Sugar
The band's fifth studio album V is branded as their "most Adam Levine album to date". By that, it's expectedly pop rock, but less significant as Overexposed. I admire how the band's become unapologetic for commercial radio bait, but I miss Songs About Jane Maroon 5.

Oliver $ and Jimi Jules - Pushin' On
I like a good deep house tune and this one doesn't disappoint. Interesting concept for the video, if "Push mo yan, teh!" (Go for it, sister!) had a visual, this might just be it.

Coldplay - Always In My Head
Not entirely new, and not entirely news that a Coldplay track lands on the September playlist. The latest album, Ghost Stories, is magnificent sleep aid (in a good way!) and I can't name a night when it's not been stuck on loop to help me catch Z's. This is my favourite track from it, followed closely by the very endearing Magic. Oh, and is it just me or is Chris Martin looking a lot hunkier with all that conscious uncoupling muscle?


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Currently at The Saatchi Gallery

The Saatchi Gallery's one of my favourite museums in town. It's one of those contemporary/modern art galleries that could make purists cringe and say "You call that art?" but there's something about the way they curate pieces that makes me excited about art in this new era of artistic freedom. I remember feeling rather creeped out (in a good way!) by previous installations such as Kader Attia's GhostSun Yuan and Peng Yu's life-like sculptures Old Persons Home and Angel, and Zhang Dali's Chinese Offspring; amused by Pure Evil's Nightmare Series and Marcelo Jacome's Planos pipas n17 (as I've never flown a kite); and inspired by exhibits such as Chanel's The Little Black Jacket and The Times Newseum

Go see for yourself! Current exhibitions include new art from Africa and Latin America plus Sam Taylor-Wood's photographs of Coco Chanel's apartment. Entrance is free and there's heaps of Instagrammable stuff. ;)

Rafael Gomezbarros, Casa Tomada
Aboudia, Djoly du Mogoba
Aboudia, Enfants dans la rue 1
Fredy Alzate, Lugares en fuma | Christian Rosa No Way Out
Boris Nzebo, Constuction Nzebo 
Antonio Malta Campos, Figures in Red | Jose Carlos Martinat, Ejercicio Superficial #12
Vincent Michea acrylic on canvas. Plaid Boy not included.
Oscar Murillo, I'd take you there but it doesn't exist anymore & Dark Americano
Xavier Mascaro, Eleonoras
Xavier MascaroSacred Couple
Xavier MascaroCouple
Cullen Washington Jr, Untitled #5
Lisa Anne Auerbach, Find you inner metal voice 

Saatchi Gallery
Duke Of York's HQ, King's Rd, London SW3