Sunday, 27 February 2011

Young at Heart takes a trip........

I haven't actually had a hot flush yet but I'm told it's only a matter of time. I used to say it as a joke a few years back but as the reality got ever closer I stopped. The other day I thought I might be having one but a glance across the office at my 26 year old colleague, stripped to her bra and vest.....honestly, you have to be 26 to work this look......fanning herself violently, revealed the heating had got stuck on Bahrain. So, the removal of just one layer of cashmere quickly put an end to it. But, I have experienced getting more than a little hot under the pajama collar at night. This is apparently called 'night sweats'.....nice......and works well with the nocturnal anxiety attacks also (unknown to me) a symptom of 'the change'. Really, going to bed has taken a Hitchcockian turn for the worse. And, it's a bit like taking drugs. Why? Well, the thing is, the tingle of heat that sweeps through you from the tip of toes to top of head, reminds me, if memory serves, of 'coming up', as we called the first tingle of a drug-spiked evening of frivolity, back in the halcyon days of my misspent youth, so long ago now that even the psychedelic hallucinations were in black & white. So, just for a moment, I'm back on the grassy knoll of Knebworth, arms aloft, watching a tree turn into a helter skelter, while singing along to 'White Punks On Dope'. And then I'm back; kicking off the duvet while the wardrobe turns into a monster, spilling forth all the worries of my world, to terrorise my dreams and rattle my ever loosening grip on reality. Still..... just for a moment..... lieu of the renewed use of mind-altering drugs, this week I drank Martinis. When I lived in New York a night out always seemed to involve drinking cocktails: Manhattans, Cosmopolitans, a Dirty Martini, and every barman new how to make them. Properly. Many's the night the three olives found floating in my drink actually constituted dinner. And drinking Martinis on an empty stomach in the fabulous Rainbow Room, atop the Rockefeller Centre, still ranks as one of the best evenings I ever spent with my parents. Anyway, I had reservations for Yotam Ottolenghi's soft opening of his new restaurant, Nopi......means north of Piccadilly, what can I say...... This meant 50% off everything. Yes, absolutely everything. Even the drinks. So this meant we couldn't get a table till 9.45pm but frankly, for the chance to eat Ottolenghi's food at half price I'd have sat down to diner at midnight. My friend, whose friendship I forged when we both lived in New York, decided we should meet at Dean Street Townhouse because a) we needed to pace ourselves therefore drink proper drinks ..... slowly, and b) they saucer-up an endless supply of quality nuts and delicious olives so we wouldn't go hungry. The plan worked and we arrived at Nopi in a relatively good condition. The restaurant is a long and narrow room of white, brick-work tiles, like a New York bathroom, with gold accessories, like a Bahrain shopping mall. The bathrooms are worth the trip alone, mirrored from floor to ceiling on every surface, for a moment it was touch and go as to whether I would ever actually find the door out. And the food. Designed to be shared...possibly one of my favourite ways to eat, no chance of plate envy.....we feasted on scallops with chili jam, grilled mackerel, juicy beef brickets and sweat Ossobuco on creamy polenta, braised winter greens, crunchy brussel sprouts, oyster mushrooms and quail eggs, vanilla ricotta, blackcurrants and my new favourite pudding, bite-size sultana financiers with brandy cream. We drank a bottle of 'how much?' and two glasses 'no really' dessert wine, because it was ALL half price and we could. And just as soon as I've saved up, I'm definitely going back.....

Top tip: Re-instate the Martini hour and fill every room with a rainbow.


  1. My wardrobe has turned into a monster too........... but not (alas!) because of drugs........ because nothing in it fits any more. Still, I am sure that can be rectified by good old starvation. (Not much into exercise). Loved your allusion to bottles of "how much?" and roared with laughter at your opening paragraph.........

  2. Night sweats here are turning into daytime hot flushes - so not good! My hair goes limp and sticks to my head with sweat, I can't concentrate on anything but how hot I am - its all a bit of a mare - but as my pal says, its better than being cold! xxxx

  3. I feel your pain, I've been having those night sweats for about three years, it's vile when it isn't self-inflicted!
    Very envious of the Ottolenghi dinner, I'm always lusting after his Guardian recipes. xxx

  4. Oh blimey I am not looking forward to the night sweats, it's bad enough being grumpy and wrinkly! Ottolenghi's new place sounds wonderful, love his food and must get down there for a grown-up night out soon.

  5. Oh god. Is this what I have to look forward to?

    I had acne til I was 30, which was then replaced by the haggard I've-had-three-kids-you-know permanent facial and now that I've finally discovered the best light to view my crows feet in (i.e. total darkness)you're telling me in a few years time I'm going to have to adjust to the sweaty raspberry look?

    Thanks. You guys have really cheered me up.

    the word verification was 'phomants' which sounds like it should be appropriate if I could only think of something witty to say about it.

  6. Speaking as a pemanant shiverer, I'm quite looking forward to the hot flushes. Never leave the house in less than 7 layers. Strip down to about 5 for bed. Bring it on...

  7. Ooh, can I come with you next time? The food sounds amazing.

  8. Dear Jo, oh god! There must be some drugs for the change surely? If there are I'm taking them!

    The food at Nopi sounds wonderful. I have added it to my list of places to go. The mirrored bathroom made me laugh, I've been in a similar one where we couldn't find the bloody door for ages.

    I LOVE the sound of your Westwood buys - gold and sparkly you say? Right up my street. I must call you this week! Love, C xx

  9. Ottolenghi's new restaurant?! Did you tell them about the Random Ingredient Test and how they FAIL in rural Scotland?

    I ache for the onset of night-sweats as I'm constantly frozen thanks to shit circulation and an old drafty house

    You MUST take me to this new Ottolenghi place!!!!

    Ali x

  10. I, too, remember being poor and young and meeting a friend at the Algonquin for gin and tonics. The honey-roasted peanuts were definitely dinner. Laugh.



  11. Your description of the hot-under-the-collar moments at night and lack of sleep all sounds too, too familiar. Oh dear. Next come the mood swings, I guess. I SAID! NEXT COME THE MOOD SWINGS, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!