Casa Brindisa and the Hollywood Costume Exhibition:
Although I live in Earls Court I have an appalling record of actually visiting the wonderful museums of South Kensington – actually only a short walk from home for me. I can walk to the Victoria and Albert, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. But, I only get there when a friend suggests a visit. As was the case yesterday – a spare ticket to the ‘sold out’ Hollywood Costume exhibition at the Victoria and Albert. Something, I would look at, plan to do and never quite get round to booking!
We met for lunch first and Brindisa was my choice. There’s a remarkable similarity in that I know Brindisa, I browse the shop at Borough Market when I visit, I keep planning to have tapas there because I’ve heard how good the food is…and I never do. That despite the fact they now have a four restaurants dotted around London. So in one dismal and wet January afternoon I managed to put right two wrongs…
Casa Brindisa is an informal and lively place, with an open kitchen at the back and outdoor seating for when the weather is more clement. It’s the sort of place you could sit for an evening eating and drinking leisurely. And, living up to its reputation, the food IS very good. The menu is actually quite short, but in many ways that’s no bad thing. And there’s a comprehensive wine list as well as a few sherries if you want to be a little more traditional.
We started with a plate of olives and some really piquant pickled chillies, which actually improved for both of us when we had the palate softner of the Patatas Bravas to eat alongside them. Nicely crispy on the outside with a smear of spicy tomato sauce, these were as close to my own ideal of Patatas Bravas as it gets.
Our tribute to healthy eating was a plate of cauliflower, broccoli and roasted beetroot with some flaked almonds. Slightly charred and with just enough bite left, this was a dish I hadn’t been convinced about until I ate it…
Butifara con Mongetese was described to us by the waiter as ‘a bit like English breakfast sausage with beans’. But, spicy, meaty sausage complementing the garlicky oil drench beans seemed about as far away from a English breakfast sausage as January in London is to July in Catalonia. And, I’ll take July in Catalonia…at least for a Tapas lunch.
Our final savoury dish arrived sizzling in a sea of garlic studded oil. Juicy and perfectly cooked prawns with tails on so you could pick them up to eat. Very delicious.
OK we probably didn’t need dessert. But, I’m glad I tried the Tarte de Santiago, a rich almondy cake with vanilla icecream. The Turron mousse was marginally less popular until my friend discovered the alcohol soaked raisins at the bottom!
All very delicious, our bill for lunch, wine and coffees was around £65 including service.
On to the exhibition which was stunning, memorable and remarkably comprehensive. It WAS busy, the only downside for me was that it was almost impossible to see some of the more popular exhibits. But, fascinating to learn more about costume design – the exhibition really highlighted the significant role a costume designer will play in film production. And, I particularly enjoyed seeing the displays about the making of ‘costumes’ for animated films, which in some case are fully constructed in ‘real life’ before being integrated into the animation while others are created using a complex robotics program.
And, I was amazed at the level of detail in the costumes. Every tear, stain, darning patch or aged fabric intentional and part of the characterisation, I learnt how the integral role of the costume designer provides the actor with inspiration. Meryl Streep with her ‘filled’ handbag for the role of Margaret Thatcher, stood out for me, mostly because Margaret Thatcher’s handbag WAS iconic. Of course there were highlights. For me, the red velvet dress worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind stole the show, while as a tableau the costumes showing a range of outfits for films like ’Elizabeth: The Golden Age’ (2007) ’The Virgin Queen’ (Charles LeMaire, Mary Wills, 1955), ‘Marie Antoinette’ (1938, Costume Designer Adrian) and Shakespeare in Love’ (1998) was dramatic and almost brought courtly life into the museum.
There are no advanced tickets left for the Hollywood Costume exhibition, which runs till 27th January but you can still buy a limited number of tickets on the day. Or just visit the Museum, something I still need to go back and do!
And, of course you can visit Casa Brindisa even if you are not going to the Victoria and Albert.
7-9 Exhibition Road
London SW7 2HE