I'm in Grazia this month, looking hella crazy and being hella profound. I don't mean to brag but I made my giant bow with my bare hands. I also made Nimish's sculpted wire headpiece. If anybody needs a milliner, you know where to find me. Less importantly, if you want to see the whole Mad Hatter's Tea Party inspired spread, turn to page 138 of the April issue.
I'm living the dream life in Cannes at the moment.
It's spring and the flowers on our street, the Boulevard de la Croisette, are all in bloom. I stay a mere elevator ride from the beach, I buy gorgeous seasonal produce and fresh chèvre at the Marche Forville, I cook most days and on weekends, I explore small, pretty towns across the riviera with my favourite person in the universe. This Sunday we walked around cap d'Antibes, ogling incredible houses and finding cute pebbled coves. We chanced upon a small trail that led to these beautiful cliffs and witnessed a little old lady climb the rocks, strip down to her birthday suit and dive into the cold Mediterranean. Of course a French grandma had to be the baddest bitch in the world. Dying to be besties with her.
Here are some things on the internet I loved this week:
- Speaking of grandmas, this little film made my day.
- Marseille is just an hour away but you can go on a nightwalk with Google.
- My birthday falls on a long weekend in the not too distant future and maybe we'll go to Menton.
- If you don't read First We Feast, you're missing the most entertaining food blog in the world.
- Design meets travel in this pretty piece about the aesthetes of Tangier.
- This video makes me reflect on the most important question: WHY AM I NOT A DANCER?
- My friend Caleb has one of the best instagram feeds I've seen. He has one of the most interesting visual perspectives on New Zealand. (I miss his blog dearly.)
I'm a huge fan of illustrator and art director Sarah Fotheringham's work (you're sure to have seen some of it if you've flown Indigo) and no less a fan of her lifestyle label Safomasi that she runs with her partner Maninder Singh. Based in New Delhi, the pair draw inspiration from India and travel to create inspired, delectable soft furnishings. And my favourite thing about the label? Grandmas are involved.
Their latest collection is Alleppey and I guess it's no surprise that a textile loving Keralaphile like myself would adore it so. The range of cushions and quilts features playful hand screenprinted (get a glimpse of the process here and here) motifs of coconut pickers climbing palms, boats on the backwaters, a fisherman casting his net, birds flying overhead, woven palm leaves and more in a fresh palette of hues that includes mint, lime, teal blue and coral. Too nice.
One of the places in Kerala I spent a few days in last year was Thekkady, best known for its wildlife reserve and spices. And the sleepy little town was way cooler than I could have ever anticipated.
I didn't bother with the morning safaris or trying to spot a tiger (none of the locals I spoke to had ever managed to see one), instead I started my days at Thekkady Cafe which does a fantastic chicken roast that I mopped up with fresh appams. Then I wandered the spice shops, where one can buy cinnamon bark as big as furniture or packets of spice mixes to take home. I bought heady masalas for curries, delicious coarse podi for dipping idlis into, and freshly ground cocoa. Ever intoxicated by the scent of hot coconut oil, I scored myself a big bag of salted yellow banana chips straight off the fryer every chance I got.
Vegetarians can always find meals in Kerala - sadya thalis with unlimited servings of rice, dal, yogurt, and vegetable dishes plus payasam for dessert served on banana leaves. I loved dining with the locals at Cafe Althaf, a tiny no-frills, no-menu canteen that doles out the cheapest and best fried chicken, beef curry and flaky golden parottas.
One evening, I signed up a cooking lesson at Bar-b-que. Since it was out of season in Kumily, it was a private class and nothing could have prepared me for how kitsch the setting would be or how marvellous it was. Sheril is an autorickshaw driver who will pick you up from your hotel, and along with his meddling but delightful family will teach you to grind spices, extract coconut flesh, and cook fragrant meat curries, savoury potato chips, okra and bean dishes using ingredients from his own backyard. He's been written about in the NYTimes. I was the first person to show him the article and let's just say the Sukumarans now have a new family member (me).
But the most favourite finds of all were the design stores. Call it luck but I will often stumble upon wonderful things on my travels without a map or itinerary but even I was thrown by a gallery and store as thoughtfully curated and beautifully decorated as Red Frog. If you've been to Thekkady, you'd know how out of place a minimalist, contemporary store might be. Inside I found old and new books, elegant clothing made from natural fibres, prettily packaged spices that are certified organic, plus gorgeous antiques and local handicrafts.
A day later, after breakfast at Wildernest, an extremely cute B&B, I walked past a moss laden building that housed via kerala an adorable typography and design focused store. It sold loopy Malayalam letterforms, reversible tote bags and aptly, jungle themed playing cards, postcards and toys.
Food writer and my dear friend Purva Mehra and I spent the last few weeks before I left India eating plate after plate of the city's salads so you wouldn't have to. Click over to Mumbai Boss to see what made the best summer salads list.
Above: The ridiculously good caesar salad at Ellipsis. All photos by me.