3 months ago

Cabin Fever: Plays, Planting and Pretty Ballerinas

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Penny McCormick, deputy editor

Ordering … Sunday lunch from Hara, Hillsborough as a treat. Owned by Andy Turner and Roz Allen both formerly from Dublin’s Chapter One, where Andy was head chef, Hara has won numerous awards since opening two years ago. They’ve created a pared back menu (reflected in the decor of the restaurant), which has never disappointed on any of my visits. When travel restrictions are finally lifted, I’d recommend booking in advance if you are driving up north and combine with a visit to Hillsborough Castle and Gardens; www.harahillsborough.co.uk.

Another of my favourite (new) restaurants is Volpe Nera (22 Newtown Park, Blackrock), which reopened this week for a collection/dine-at-home service. Chef Barry Sun Jian has designed menus for two to share which includes snacks (such as Barry’s homemade Guinness and treacle bread with cep mushroom butter, and pancetta coppata with house pickles), a shared starter (it might be mushroom dumplings with broad beans in an aged soya broth), a main (black olive fettuccine with a luscious spicy lamb shoulder ragù, peas and asparagus and a black olive crumb), a sharing dessert (maybe a basil panna cotta with smoked strawberry consommé and brown sugar tuile) and cheese for two with homemade crackers. It’s a steal at €52 for two. To order visit www.volpenera.ie.

Reading …Air Mail. It’s a subscription-based email newsletter created by former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. Having read Vanity Fair for 30 years, I’ve got some of my back issues out of storage to collate on shelves. In the process I’ve whiled away many enjoyable hours rereading some of the late Dominick Dunne’s and Christopher Hitchens’ memorable features as well as relish photographer Annie Leibovitz’s iconic gatefold covers. As for Air Mail, it’s updated every weekend: I particularly like the retro topography, harking back to 1990s glossies, combined with the upbeat content – a recent being on Normal People subtitled “50 Shades of Sligo”. Don’t forget you can also subscribe to THE GLOSS by emailing [email protected]

Planting … herbs. Not having had access to garden centres, like most people I’ve relied on the plants available in supermarkets (Lidl has been excellent) and at my nearest village greengrocer. It received a large selection of herbs this week, which I’ve happily potted and hope to find some grit to complete in due course (I can’t face the queues at B&Q at the moment). The online eco-store reuzi also has a clever herb kit, €22.99, which comes with seeds, soil and instructions. Whether you add the basil, cucumber, mint or dill to cocktails or recipes is up to you; www.reuzi.ie. 

Testing … my new gravity blanket. It weighs 6kg and is quite a change from my usual light duvet. I found it took a couple of nights to adjust – particularly the weight on my legs. I am not a fan of the tightly “tucked in” bed – the first thing I do when staying in hotels is loosen any hospital corners and restrictions around my feet. However, I am pleased to say I am now sleeping for longer at night with fewer interruptions and feeling more refreshed as a result. For information visit www.deepsleep.ie and read my feature on why gravity blankets have become so popular

Sarah Halliwell, Beauty Editor

Wearing … Since we’re in the house rather more than usual, we’re rethinking footwear entirely. The usual floppy furry slippers are now too warm, and we’re keeping the Birkenstocks for walks. And if we all clomp around in big heavy shoes we’ll drive each other (even more) mad. My solution is ballet shoes. Years ago I used to buy soft leather ballet shoes from Freed in London. The girls in the shop were reliably snooty, and openly disdainful of non-ballerinas, putting your shoes in a bag as if they were bestowing a great favour – you had to take a deep breath just to go inside. But the black leather ones I bought there lasted for years. And you can order online and avoid the attitude (check out the red leather ones for £15stg and bronze satin for £12). Even better, order them from Dance World, a family business in Dublin since the 1970s. Re-inspired after watching a movie about Nureyev, my new satin ones with elastic across arrived just a day after ordering and cost €16. Look, they’re clearly not designed for outdoors – prance around in them on a grotty Dublin pavement and they will no longer look pristine. But there’s something pleasing about borrowing the elegance of a ballerina, even if you’re no Fonteyn, and they are cute with jeans or leggings (are legwarmers a step too far?); try the incredibly comfortable Bloch canvas ones. Way more affordable than Birkenstocks, too.
store.freedoflondon.com; www.danceworld.ie

Watching … Surely we’ll all be trying to give up our Netflix and screen habits as we get even a tiny bit back to normal? The sea is open again, tennis and golf are accessible and the great outdoors beckons. Just one more thing to watch before we go cold turkey … Gillian Anderson in the Young Vic’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire is available via YouTube and NTLive this week (until Thursday May 28) and it’s a blinder. The Tennessee Williams classic is ingeniously staged in the round, and it rages with emotional heat; even though you’re seeing through the walls of Stella and Stanley’s home has no walls, it feels incredibly claustrophobic. Anderson is electric, giving an intensely physical performance, and the excellent cast includes Vanessa Kirby … though we can’t help but wish to be watching a young Brando as Stanley. #NationalTheatreAtHome

Trying out … Sunday Riley’s new Ice Ceramide Moisturising Cream, designed to appeal to our love of gelato. I usually avoid cosmetics inspired by cake or pastries – they’re usually about marketing rather than actually doing your skin any good – but this cream is interesting beyond its cute little spatula. The US brand is always eye-catching, drawing us in with clever names like the much-rated Good Genes, and Luna Sleeping Night Oil, which features an advanced synthetic form of retinoid and makes it easy to use by pairing it with antioxidant blue tansy oil (incidentally, try Bare Chic Skin’s face oil for a retinoid-free take on this same calming blue wonder ingredient). If you like a rich texture, Riley’s Ice cream is a cruelty- and perfume-free option. Red algae is a key ingredient along with hydrating squalane and ceramides, and a ton of fruit and seed extracts. Its almondy scent reminds me of how Tiny Tears dolls used to smell, which you’ll either love or hate (it doesn’t linger, anyway). It’s not the cheapest, at £60stg or €73.25; the size of the pot makes it look bigger than its actual 50ml. But first impressions suggest that it does seem to give skin a good blast of hydration, which is what it needs at the moment. From May 26 at www.cultbeauty.com.

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