GT Approved: Orlebar Brown Swim Shorts

With our deep rooted desire to travel as often as possible it is about time GT recommended our swim shorts of choice.

Having scouring stores in London and online we approve Orlebar Brown for their quality Bulldog range.

What we love about these shorts:

    They feature a timeless shape, cut just above the knee with classic looking side fasteners on the waist.
    The real winner for these swimming trunks is their wide array of prints taken from stylised photographs. The photographic edition features photograph images from various creative archives and the images have been expertly mapped to the trunks in 360° so the rear of the trunks also feature the photograph.
    The shorts are created with a very fast drying polyester fabric that is chlorine, salt water, light and rub tested so they look and wear well in and out of water.
Kaufman Print Bulldog Swim Shorts £225

Kaufman Print Bulldog Swim Shorts £225

Apparently the Bulldog short was in their very first collection and is now their best selling item. The shorts are based on the traditional 17 piece pattern of a man’s suit trouser and are described by Orlebar Brown as “not just a swim short – but a short you can swim in. A perfect bridge short, tailored for style, comfort and performance. Wear on and off the beach”.

GT put these trunks to the test on our recent visit to Grenada and liked them so much we have since bought another pair.

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5 Things To Eat In Grenada

1. Calaloo Soup

The first thing GT tried in Grenada is Calaloo soup, an appetising dark green soup that tastes of green leaves, peppers and spinach.

Calaloo varies as you travel around the Caribbean but the base ingredients include Calaloo leaves or spinach, chicken stock or coconut milk, crabmeat, onion, shallots, green chili and okra. We particularly enjoyed the version served up by Patrick’s in St. George’s – a hearty bowl full of flavour.

2. Lionfish

Lionfish is a reef fish with delicious white flesh that tastes somewhere between cod and snapper. We recommend eating Lionfish baked or fried and accompanied by the spice and fruit of a Creole sauce.

This is an invasive predatory reef fish which needs culling due to a surge in numbers so this means Grenadian dive instructors are happy to catch them for you. The only problem is that the fish have venomous spines which puts off many restauranteurs however we watched the preparation process and this can be overcome if care is taken while chopping the spines off at the base. GT’s Lionfish was caught by Aquanauts at the True Blue Bay restaurant located just next door to the dive centre.

Lionfish Grenada

Lionfish caught in Grenada

3. Grenadian Chocolate

Grenada produce delicious organic chocolate on the island at the Grenada Chocolate company factory from their plantation site which has been podding, fermenting, drying and emulsifying since the 1700s. Their chocolate is about as unadulterated as you can get and is a perfect gift for chocolate-loving friends and relatives.

GT was especially interested to see people making their own cocoa tea. The fruit is in such abundance on the island Grenadian people make their own delicious version of hot chocolate which contains cane sugar and local spices such as nutmeg. If the temperature drops this is something to seek out.

Cocoa Grenada

Cocoa Drying in Grenada

4. Nutmeg Ice Ceam

GT were privvy to heated debates about the new ‘Pure Grenada’ tourism campaign that has replaced their moniker of “The Spice Island”. Grenadians are very proud of their association with fine spices and nutmeg is the jewel in their crown. Grenada is the second largest producer of nutmeg and produce arguably the best example in the world. GT tried the nutmeg and don’t know where the little brown seed in the kitchen originated but it is a very pale comparison.

A common use of nutmeg in Grenada is for delicious freshly made ice-cream. GT tried this at the Belmont Estate on a hot day and it was an unusual and refreshing combination of silky cream and zippy spice.

Nutmeg Grenada

Nutmeg Fruit, Mace & Seed from Grenada

5. Oildown

Last but by no means least is Grenada’s national dish, Oildown. Ignore the name, Oildown is an unctuous meat stew created with salted pork along with the same base ingredients as a typical British stew (onion, carrot, celery). To this the Grenadians often add plantain, coconut milk, dasheen (taro), peppers and the breadfruit, a large starchy fruit that looks like a giant conker, often used as a substitute for flour in the Caribbean (see image below).

Take yourself off on a culinary trip to Grenada with return flights and seven nights accommodation from only £599 via BA.

Breadfruit Grenada

Breadfruit on the tree in Grenada

Anything else we should try on our next visit? Please do leave a comment below…

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5 Things To Do In Grenada

1. Snorkelling & Diving with Aquanauts

The dive centre team here are a friendly and professional outfit offering tours of sites suitable for both beginners and experienced divers.

Dive sites in Grenada include the worlds first Underwater Sculpture Park which GT visited, this was created by artist Jason de Caires Taylor to depict Grenada’s culture and help hurricane damaged coral to grow again. There are also some substantial wreck sites which look equally impressive.

Grenada has a huge variety of reef creatures from plentiful shoals of Yellowtail Snapper to the more elusive camouflaged Frog Fish, there are also large Turtles and Caribbean Reef Sharks. Aquanauts can be found on the marina at True Blue Bay resort.

Grenada Resort

View of True Blue Bay resort from a Boat

2. Lion Fish and Dockside Ale at True Blue Bay

While out diving or snorkelling with Aquanauts GT recommend you ask the instructor to catch a Lion Fish for you. These spiked predatory fish are a lesser known delicacy in Grenada which can either be served baked or fried with a taste somewhere between Snapper and Cod. Your instructor will be more than happy to catch some for your dinner to help keep the number of these predators down.

The restaurant at True Blue Bay restaurant will prepare your fish for you and when choosing a good drink to accompany your meal you are in luck as just next door you will find the West Indies Beer Company; an excellent microbrewery who produce Grenadas only real beer, Dockside Ale, which is exceptionally good and served exclusively in the restaurant and bar.

Grenada Waterfall

Tour guide Telfour Bedeau at Mt Carmel Waterfall

3. Take a Guided Tour of Grenada

GT was very fortunate to be introduced to Telfour Bedeau, Grenada’s very own Indiana Jones. Telfour is a sprightly 73 year old Grenadian hiking tour guide who is fitter now than most people in their 20’s.

Telfour is very engaging and wonderful company, you can ask him absolutely anything about Grenada and it’s surrounding smaller islands and he will have the answer for you.

We went on a mountain hike to Mt Carmel waterfalls and encountered all manner of interesting tropical plants on the way including the Immortal Plant which had bright red flowers, is almost impossible to kill and used historically to mark territorial borders. GT would definitely recommend this tour for a great chance to stretch your legs and discover more about Grenada’s tropical habitat.

You can reach Telfour Bedeau on his landline (473) 442 6200 you may need to leave a message to arrange your booking.

St George's Grenada

St George’s Grenada

4. Visit The Beautiful Capital City of St. George’s

On approach by road this bustling capital city greets you with a magnificent array of colourful roof tops and two looming hill forts which are either side of a horseshoe shaped harbour. You can visit the forts and see their secret tunnels which were carved out by French colonists in the 1700’s to secretly ambush invaders including the British who gave the city it’s current name.

The city contains plenty of nightlife and good restaurants including BB’s Crab Back, which GT recommend visiting to try their signature dish; a delicious combination of crab and cheese sauce, a big hit with visitors to St. George’s.

Cocoa Grenada

Cocoa Drying in Grenada

5. Visit the Belmont Estate

This farming estate provides an agro-tourism experience. GT visited their old plantation and original working factory which produces high quality chocolate for export.

It is more interesting than you may expect to learn about the specific fermentation and drying processes which are required before the cocoa plant can develop a mature cocoa bean suitable for chocolate.

GT was also surprised to hear that many Grenadians process their own cocoa to create what they call ‘Cocoa Tea’ an absolutely delicious hot chocolate drink made with cane sugar and spices like nutmeg.

For more inspiration visit the official website for the Grenada Tourist Authority.

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GT Approved: Edwin ED-55 Selvage Jeans

When it comes to denim GT are particularly fussy. With this in mind we decided to write a post about our favourite brand of jean for quality, cut and denim.

When it comes to a consistent quality you can’t go wrong with Japanese label Edwin Jeans, their range beats stalwarts such as Levi’s for both style and quality and also features our favourite cut the tapered leg ED-55.

Edwin Jeans

Edwin ED-55 Rainbow Selvage Jeans

So that is the brand and the cut but what about the type of denim? Having owned several pairs of ED-55 jeans we find the best denim to be the rainbow selvage denim in 16oz weight.

Selvage denim often called Selvedge is traditionally a heavier cotton twill fabric woven on looms in which one yarn (the weft) passes under two or more lengthwise (warp) threads producing the familiar diagonal ribbing you often notice. GT like the 16oz (weight of a square yard of denim) denim because it is thick enough to hold the ED-55’s tapered leg shape without being too thick for warmer weather. To give you some idea of where our recommended weights sits; regular jeans are usually 8 to 12 ounce and really thick jeans can go up to 32 ounce.

Edwin Jeans

Selvage Denim

By nature Selvage denim is not typically supposed to be machine washed or tumble dried from new; this is to retain the integrity of the denim and prevent the blue indigo dye from fading for as long as possible.

Above all the main reason we recommend selvage is simply because the denim actually gets better and better with age becoming more comfortable and developing a natural fade which enhances the jeans in a far more appealing manner than stone washing.

Edwin have published an interesting guide to their denim you can view here which contains this handy guide to looking after selvedge denim:

How To Break In Your Raw Edwin jeans

1. Start with a pair of raw Edwin denim jeans.
2. Wear your jeans everyday for at least 6 months. Anything up to a year and they will continue to acquire the history and character you imbue with them, any more than that and you may start to notice disintegration.
3. If you need to remove any stains, dab with a damp cloth, remember no detergent.
4. To freshen up your jeans at any point, hang them outside for as long as is necessary, bu don’t leave them out in the rain as the indigo dye will bleed out.
5. When, at last you finally have to wash your (by now) well worn jeans, Edwin suggests turning them inside-out and running a 40˚C cycle without detergent. When they’re done and whilst still damp, stretch the inseam back to it’s normal length and line dry, never tumble.
6. Finally, wear your jeans for another 3 months then wash at 30˚C with your regular non-bio detergent as this will help prevent fading. Now you can wear and wash your jeans as needed.

You can visit Edwin’s London store which also has a free in-house alterations service or purchase online here from Edwin European.

A couple of interesting denim facts for you: Denim is originally from Nimes in France produced by a family called Andre; known then as Serge de Nimes later shortened to denim. The blue dye used in denim comes from a plant called the Indigofera plant hence the colour indigo.

A top GT tip is to place your jeans in a freezer overnight if they become particularly dirty, this helps to remove dirt and naturally kills any germs.

Dye

Indigo Dye

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The Doll’s House, Hoxton Square

For all the noise about pop-up restaurants, there are very few which actually represent genuinely unique experiences, and fewer still that are able to compete with well-established eateries for quality or service.

The Doll’s House is therefore something of an anomaly. Brought to you by Adam Towner and Katy Gray Rosewarne (Dead Doll’s Club), this new members club on Hoxton Square may look like just another reclaimed industrial warehouse from the outside but is in fact one of the most unique new spaces we have seen in some time.

Towner and Gray have form, as anyone who frequented their previous project in Haggerston will affirm. With what appears to be little more than a pack of permanent markers, three stories of office space have been transformed into a 2D blueprint for a lavish country house. A bit like a giant doll’s house… you get the idea.

On our first visit the kitchen were running out great small plates of food in the ‘Conservatory’, the few we tasted were very good, but ultimately it was one of those nights where we decided to really put the cocktail barman through their paces – the boys delivered with both their mint juleps and pisco sours.

Dishes

Selection of dishes from pop up chef duo ‘Check On’ currently running the kitchen

If you’ve fallen out of love with Hoxton lately, give this a try – it’s a classy, grown up joint for your more discerning Barbie and Ken.

Interior

Interior view of one of the dining rooms at Doll’s House

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6 Places To Eat In Madrid

Restaurant IO

What: The modern and bright gastro home of Spanish celeb Chef Iñaki Oyarbide. The menu is divided into large and small plates and four different groups; Lo de Siempre (the usuals), Lo Nuestro (traditional), Iñakis (invented by Iñaki himself) and From the World.
Dish: Carpaccio of Almeria Red Prawn
Reservations: Reservations can be made online via their request form or by telephone (00 34) 91 344 05 56
Website: here

Restaurant Bar

The bar at Restaurant IO

NO Restaurant

What: Just over a year old this restaurant features a striking monochrome interior and a brilliant terrace that is private yet breezy. The Chef, Xavier Márquez,  trained in London and it shows with a British touch, less ingredients and higher prices than expected in Madrid.
Dish: Boneless Pig’s Trotters, Prawns and Pedro Ximenez Glaze
Reservations: Reservations can be made online via their booking engine or by telephone (00 34) 91 431 64 56
Website: here

Terrace

The terrace at NO Restaurant

Lobby Market

What: Bustling all-day spot with a restaurant area with traditional seating and an informal “Gourmet Zone” with stools and high tables. The latter has a menu packed with pinchos and sharing plates, the former larger dishes with some options to share. The food is bright, fresh and traditional with a flash of the unexpected.
Dish: Crumbed Aubergines with Honey and Garlic Foam
Reservations: Reservations can be made online via their booking engine.
Website: here

Market

The Gourmet Zone at Lobby Market

El Club Allard

What: Widely appreciated as Madrid’s best restaurant bursting with awards including two Michelin stars. They serve three menus at different price points to be eaten by the entire table; Rendezvous, Seduction, Revolution. Each of which are an example of the magic of modern Spanish cooking where each dish is a tiny piece of art.
Dish: After ordering you are brought a dip.. with which to eat the very menu you selected from. Brilliant.
Reservations: Reservations can be made online via their booking engine, or by telephone for last minute availability (0034) 91 559 09 39.
Website: here

Restaurant Interior

El Club Allard Interior

Zalacain

What: Old school Madrileño establishment that has just celebrated it’s 40th birthday and naturally it frequently welcomes royalty, ministers and foreign dignitaries. The food is equally as grand with a modern flair and as much emphasis on their desserts as the rest of the menu.
Dish: Sirloin with Foie Gras and Minted Lentils
Reservations: Reservations can be made by emailing admon@zalacain.es or by telephone (00 34) 91 561 48 40
Website: here

Staff

Director, Chef and Sommelier at Zalacain Restaurant

Pandelujo

What: An old bread factory transformed by clever architecture that exploits “light, reflection and sensations” more effectively so after dark. Dishes are designed for sharing and are essentially Spanish with a Mediterranean flourish.
Dish: Try the dessert fruit platter that features at least 20 seasonal fruits and looks brilliant against the style of interior.
Reservations: Reservations can be made online via their booking engine.
Website: here

Restaurant

Pandelujo Restaurant Interior

Casino de Madrid

What: The whole experience is beautiful and surprising from start to finish: The building itself (dating from 1836) is a marvel of painting, sculpture and opulence, the roof-top dining room is a modern version of similar elegance and the avant-garde food comes from a kitchen advised by Ferran Adrià. Tasting menu at night, set-lunch otherwise.
Dish: Shrimp Omelette (yes you can guess it won’t be that simple)
Reservations: Reservations can be made by email terraza.casino@nh-hotels.com or by telephone (00 34) 91 532 12 75
Website: here

Restaurant

Casino de Madrid Restaurant Interior

Mercado de San Anton

What: An old food market totally renovated to a bright and clean 3-floor foodie destination. The first floor hosts “traditional” market stalls, the second is a range of independent stalls serving ready to eat snacks ranging from basic to gourmet, the third is occupied by a restaurant very popular for watching the sun set over Chueca with a cocktail in hand from their brilliant terrace.
Dish: Select your raw ingredients from the first floor and the third floor restaurant will cook it for you or try the modern and traditional ready-to-eat bites from the second floor. Finish with a cocktail on the terrace.
Reservations: No reservations required for the market, grab a table and start snacking. To reserve a table to eat in the restaurant or on the terrace book online here
Website: here

Market

Arial view of the Mercado de San Anton

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East Coast Mauritius

On first arriving in Mauritius and leaving the airport a few things are instantly noticeable; the island is covered in a lush green blanket of sugarcane plantations with ancient volcanic mountains forming striking landmarks as they disappear into the clouds and audibly French is clearly the international language of choice.

Having thoroughly explored the island we can recommend the east side of the island for a more tranquil holiday. The more tourist friendly north and north-west of the island does have it’s merits and offers more affordable accommodation but this GT was looking for relaxation away from package holidays and closer to the best beaches.

There are several inclusive resorts ranging from the outstanding 5 Star option Le Touessrok to other luxurious but a little more affordable destinations such as Lux and La Maison d’Etè.  I, however, chose to go down the self-catered route staying in a villa at the SO Beach complex. There are several things to consider on the island with self-catering, firstly you need to hire a car, this is an absolute must with most destinations a good distance apart so we recommend this is factored into your thinking.

Villa

Early Evening at SO Beach Villas

Day trips from East coast Mauritius included visits to the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, thoroughly fascinating, but only worthwhile with the guided tour to explain the tropical plants who charges a mere £2 per person.

With the main export of the island being sugar and rum a visit to one of the local factories makes an interesting afternoon and a good excuse for a drink, we can recommend the Rhumerie De Chamarel. We learnt that a favourite local cocktail called ‘Rum Punch’ is simply slices of lemon muddled with cane sugar and white rum and especially welcome on a hot day.

A very popular tourist destination is the Il Aux Cerfs (Deer Island). The island features stunning beaches, snorkelling, shallow water and a few restaurants. This all sounds great but do be warned it is very touristy and our advice would be to book an individual guide and boat trip to avoid predictable mass boat tours that cash in on tourism.

We found the locals to be very laid back and not particularly interested in tourists which really helped us to explore as we pleased. The only hassle we encountered was from an over eager local fisherman who brought fresh lobster to our door, it’s a hard life being on holiday!

We would suggest avoiding the capital Port St. Louis as this was a rather disappointing visit and the trade off of a day spent away from the coastline simply isn’t worth it.

We found the main influence on local cuisine to be primarily Indian food, fresh vegetables were in abundance at the local markets that felt very much felt like a little slice of India. There is also to a lesser extent a significant Creole influence, something of which we hope to explore more on a future visit.

A restaurant GT can thoroughly recommend is Chez Tino;  a good honest local establishment with authentic food, a hot tin roof, spacious veranda and gaudy decorations including puffer fish lampshades.

I sampled the local specialities of a starter of Palm Heart Salad and a main dish of Octopus Curry. The Palm Heart Salad was light and the Palm Hearts which are taken from the heart of a young Palm Tree were the perfect combination of crunchy and refreshing. The Octopus Curry erred on chewy yet this Mauritian speciality was a delicious curry,  medium-spiced with a tomato base.

Food

Palm Heart Salad & Octopus Curry

Rum
When it came to libation we were really impressed with the local Phoenix Beer and in particular Green Island White Rum which featured delicious caramel notes from the sugar cane, keep an eye out for this, a real find.

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GT Approved: Blok Knives

A good friend of mine who is also a chef once advised me that a really good set of knives can last a lifetime so I should look to invest in a good set rather than a typical mass produced product. Since then I have been keeping my eye out for a unique set.

Most of the knives I have seen have been Japanese so I was delighted to hear about Blok Knives; the creation of Ben a graphic designer turned artisan knife maker from Derbyshire UK.

Each knife he creates is hand made in his workshop using Carbon Steel hardened to 60 HRC (basically very hard indeed) which does’t contain any Chromium, this means it can both hold and maintain a very sharp edge. The real beauty of Ben’s knives however is their shape and the handles which have been crafted from a different piece of quality hard wood to reveal unique patterns in the wood as you can see from the pictures of the Chef Knives above and Pairing Knives below.

Knives

Pairing Knives

Being a graphic designer Ben is also happy to personalise each blade with an image or initialing which would make a Blok knife a truly unique present for any aspiring or practicing chef. Most of us use knives practically everyday in the kitchen so a present to oneself is not out of the question.

Workshop

The Blok Workshop

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GT’s Sloe Gin

After a bumper harvest we have been producing some excellent sloe gin this year. Here are our seven steps which we believe will always produce good results with little effort and preparation time.

To recreate our recipe just follow these seven basic steps:

1. Get out in the countryside and pick some sloes (alternatively these can be sourced online). We picked some enormous specimens from the Norfolk countryside and it is a great excuse to get yourself outdoors. Make sure the sloes are ripe, they should be soft like a plum.

2. After a swift quality control for bits of leaves and the odd bug freeze the sloes overnight, this helps to break down the fruits structure and avoids the need for pricking the fruit to help the juices escape. If you have time to prick the sloes this is quite therapeutic and worth the extra effort but it is not essential.

3. Half fill a two litre Kilner jar with sloes.

4. Pour in one litre of gin, in this case we used the rather good Geranium Gin. It makes no sense to use an inferior or cheap gin, your ingredients should always be of the highest quality, to ensure the highest quality product.

5. Leave for 3 months in a dark room (if you can wait that long!) and turn occasionally.

6. To finish top up with sugar syrup to taste, to make this simply dissolve caster sugar in two parts sugar to one part hot water. Gin supremos Sipsmith explain that “by adding the syrup in stages and tasting the gin as you go you will be able to produce the perfect result. Many people add the sugar at the start but this is known to interfere with the extraction of the fruits own natural sugars and the sugar should always be added last”.

7. Pour a glass and enjoy the fruits of your labour in it’s purest form. Pour again and top with Champagne for a wintery Sloegasm.

UPDATE:
Rather than using caster sugar as is usually recommended we made one batch with unrefined light brown soft cane sugar brought back from our recent trip to Mauritius. This batch had by far the most pleasing results with the cane sugar producing a much more natural fruit sweetness.

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GT Approved: Illesteva Sunglasses

Illesteva is an American accessories company founded in 2009 to fulfil a need for classic eyewear with a downtown New York aesthetic and since their launch Illesteva have expanded to include umbrellas and bags.

What we like about Illesteva products is that they have been handcrafted from the highest quality materials in family-run factories throughout Italy, France and Germany.

According to their website “Illesteva remains focused first and foremost on pushing traditional boundaries of design by exploring fresh shapes and unexpected motifs. A 2012 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist, Illesteva creates timeless pieces meant to inspire, captivate and last a lifetime.”

We love their impressive ‘Leonard’ sunglasses in tortoise with blue mirrored lenses that offer classic timeless frames with coloured on-trend lenses.

Sunglasses

Not widely available yet in the UK you will be able to purchase these fine frames from two of our favourite online retailers End Clothing and Oki-Ni.

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