Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Champagne for Easter

If you are looking for a special champagne to crack open this Easter, it has to be Billecart- Salmon’s latest cuvée, Brut Sous Bois (£65).

Using the three traditional grape varieties, chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, the champagne house, in blending this unique golden-yellow liquid, has recreated the original method that was used to produce champagnes. Being entirely vinified and matured in oak gives the wine superb body and structure. Sous Bois literally means “under wood”.

This is a lively fizz that is rich and powerful, yet has extraordinary finesse. It is well-balanced and has a delicious creamy texture that is bursting with fruity flavours tinged with brioche and toffee that linger long on the palate. It works well with seafood and poultry.

Another winner from Billecart-Salmon but, to be honest, I wouldn’t have expected anything less from a house that is renowned for its sophisticated and elegant champagnes.

By Daralyn Danns

Monday, 25 March 2013

Dealing with fluffy hair

My hair can go really fluffy, especially at this time of year. It absorbs moisture from humid air, especially if the cuticles have not been smoothed down properly and, as we all know, it is difficult to get your hair as smooth as a hairdresser does.

It was a particularly damp day when I visited Emma, a stylist at London’s renowned Daniel Galvin salon. She asked me how I would like my hair styled and I said I need to keep movement in my hair as otherwise it won’t last. I explained to her that my hair is naturally fluffy. “I have plenty of tips for dealing with this type of hair,” she said. So, I decided to pick her brain.

Karen Walker spring/summer 2013
Hair by Bumble and bumble editorial stylist, Laurent Philippon

Luckily, lived-in locks are still a key trend for spring. Bumble and bumble editorial stylist, Laurent Philippon created some amazing “soft and rough” looks at  the Karen Walker spring/summer 2013 catwalk show.

A tip from Emma, which I have tried and it does work, is to scrunch some salt spray to the ends of the hair while drying. “It adds oomph to the hair, especially if it is fine,” she says.

One I particularly like is Bb Surf Spray (£20, You can let the ends dry naturally or use a diffuser. It can also be used to add lift at the roots.

Alternatively, Emma suggests applying a light weight serum to damp hair. MoroccanoiL Light treatment (£30.45) is good for fine hair. I have also recently tried Bb’s new Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil (£30) which doesn’t weigh the hair down and helps to control frizz.

Emma’s tip is to rough dry hair either with a dryer or naturally until almost dry and then use a round brush to smooth the roots out. “While the hair is warm, take the section and smooth it. Next, wrap the ends round the brush. Using it like a roller, heat it up with the dryer on medium heat, let the hair cool down for a few seconds, before running your fingers through the curl. Once all your hair is dry, blast it with cool air to break up the curls and seal the style.”

I was so happy with Emma’s blow-dry, it looked natural when I left the salon and it lasted for days. Definitely, a stylist to put in my little black book.

By Daralyn Danns

Friday, 15 March 2013

Dinner at Hawksmoor Seven Dials

Hidden away in a cobbled alley in Covent Garden, London, the entrance to Hawksmoor Seven Dials makes you feel as if you are entering somewhere special.

Go down the stairs and you find yourself in a buzzy chic yet laid-back bar and restaurant. Once the home of Watney Combe brewery, a vaulted ceiling supported by cast iron columns exposed brick walls, oak panelling combined with reclaimed fittings create a warm and welcoming feel.

The cocktail list is impressive and there is also a great wine list. You can also eat in the bar, but we headed for the restaurant.

To start, I plumped for scallops followed by grilled lobster and my companion for the lobster cocktail and a rib-eye. Hawksmoor restaurants, deservedly, have gained a reputation as a carnivore’s paradise serving the best steaks in town. My friend, kindly, gave me a taste of his. Succulent and juicy, what more could you ask for?

The wine waiter suggested wines to go with the meal and brought us a couple to taste so we could decide which ones to go for. We choose a ruby-red Pulenta Estate, Gran Malbec 2010 from Argentina, that was velvety-smooth and bursting with plenty of robust tannins. It actually worked as well with the lobster as with the steak.

For dessert, I had a mix of mouth-watering lemon and blackcurrant sorbet, while my companion went for cornflake ice cream.

I love this place!  It is so unpretentious. The food is amazing and the service is excellent – the waiters seem to know when you need them and when you don’t –and although not cheap, what you get is quality and a special dining experience.

By Daralyn Danns

Tips on pairing wine with steak from Hawksmoor’s Liam Davy

Fatty cuts of meat or steak such as rib-eye work well with wines of high acidity. Try a wine from Chianti or a Brunello di Montalcino.

Fillet steaks work well with light-bodied pinot noirs. New World pinots are designed to be drunk while young. Another option is a grand cru red burgundy.

Malbecs from Argentina work with most cuts of meat as they are full of fruit and tannins which break down with the protein in the steak.

Want to drink white wine? Choose a wine such as a chardonnay which is full-bodied and rich, or a white from the Southern Rhône.

For more info visit

Monday, 11 March 2013

Hair styled at Aveda

The Aveda Institute Salon and Spa is one of my favourite salons in London. It is large, yet warm and welcoming. You are made to feel special from the moment you arrive rather than feeling as if you are another person to be put on a conveyor belt. There are some occasions when you want your hair to look particularly good. No matter how hard you try yourself, you can never manage to get your tresses as smooth as a hairdresser can.

Aveda now has a dressing hair specialist, Joon Barratt, so I decided to put my locks in her hands. After a long consultation, in which Joon examined my hair’s texture and talked about how she was going to style it, she whisked me over to the basin, where there was practically every Aveda product on offer. She chose the Color Conserve Shampoo (£15.50) and matching conditioner (£17.50).

Before starting the blow-dry, she applied Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair (£19.50) to the ends to help the condition and, Joon told me, as it contains protein, it will help stop my hair from frizzing up.  She mixed it with some Smooth Infusion style-prep smoother (£19.50).

“Your hair has a bend in it,” said Joon. “If that is what it wants to do, let it.” Joon’s advice was to keep things simple. She smoothed my hair out and flicked it out, blasting it with a shot of cold air to set it. She also spritzed my hair with the new Be Curly curl enhancing hair spray (£17.50) to help it last.

“What you want is for people to say you look well, then notice what is different about you, whether it is having your hair styled, cut or coloured,” she added.

I was actually meeting somebody for dinner whom I hadn’t see for a while. “You look really well,” he said.

By Daralyn Danns

Blow-dry from £30, Aveda Institute Salon and Spa (