Discoveries and Dinner in Duke of York Square Chelsea:
Although I shop regularly at Duke of York Square (it’s almost opposite Peter Jones, a haven of middle-class domesticity), I’ve never been in Taschen. I love books, but I also love having time to browse and usually when I am in Duke of York Square I’m a woman on a mission, with a full shopping list. So, an invitation to meet up with a group of fellow bloggers and spend some time at the bookshop on the corner of the square, Taschen, before moving on to dinner at Manicomio seemed like a great idea.
At Taschen we met manager Nolan Browne and enjoyed a glass of champagne while marvelling at the range of Art Books. Taschen books encompass a far wider range of forms than I’d imagined. I’d seen some rather expensive art books in the window but Taschen actually print many of their books in a number of formats. There are plenty of books which retail for under £10 and under £20, including a basic art series where you can learn more about any one of a diverse range of artists from Leonardo da Vinci to Lichtenstein.
They also have some amazing limited edition books in large formats, including some which come with their own stands. Everything from art photography through to erotica and some extremely collectible books showcasing the lives of the famous.
What makes the books so unique is the ability of Benedict Taschen to persuade some of the World’s leading photographers to provide their images. So you’ll find David Bailey’s photos of the Rolling Stones, Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton’s pictures of Naomi Cambell and more. There’s also a significant erotic and fetish section.
Dinner at Manicomio started with a Jagger Wood cherry cocktail and a selection of delicious canapes.
I picked the yellow fin tuna crudo to start, a light fresh dish with fennel and kohlrabi.
I’d intended to be just a little restrained and picked the lightest of the options but was severely tempted when I saw the Mozzarella di bufala campana with grilled asparagus.
Skrei is Norwegian cod, only available for a limited season from February to the end of April, so of course that was my choice of main course. I loved the pairing of the steamed fish with puttanesca (tomatoes, olive oil, anchovies, olives, capers and garlic) and mussels and a little fregola. Beautifully cooked, I was glad to get a chance to try what was probably the last Skrei of the season for me.
The other popular option was a delicious looking seasonal dish of chicken tagliata with artichokes and asparagus.
Dessert was a choice of strawberries with vanilla panna cotta or lemon tart. I love panna cotta, but with a strawberry allergy chose what turned out to be a delicious lemon tart instead.
I can remember when there was little at Duke of York Square. Now, particularly on Saturday, when there’s a farmers’ market. There are a whole selection of unusual shops, including Hoss Intropia for unusual and very wearable fashion, Monica Vinader for stunning jewellery and of course Taschen. The Saatchi Gallery always has interesting exhibitions – right now Exhibitionism, the story of the Rolling Stones. And, beside Manicomio there are a host of good cafes and restaurants, many with al fresco dining options.
Going to the Chelsea Flower Show this year for the first time, I’m particularly looking forward to Chelsea in Bloom, which runs from the 23rd to the 29th of May. Last year the shops were beautifully decorated with their own displays of fresh flowers and there were plenty of special events too, from cocktails and afternoon teas to full flower themed menus. Perhaps that’s what makes Duke of York Square so special – they run a complete series of events throughout the year, from special celebrations for Wimbledon complete with a big screen and more of those strawberries I can’t eat through to their very own Christmas Lights event.