vanityfaircover.jpgI grew up on a farm in south Georgia. I had no appreciation for the fact that we grew our own crops; I never once had a meal from a can. Everything we ate came straight from the farm to the table. We even had a pond and stocked fresh trout and other fish.

Who knew that would become the hip and trendy way to eat?

I remember being a little bit embarrassed that I grew up on a farm. My Mom subscribed to magazines such as Vanity Fair and Town and County. I loved the photos, especially the 'society' photos of all the pretty women dressed in colorful frocks in high heeled shoes.

I could relate because my Mom got the Sears catalog and I dreamt of the day that I was old enough to order those high heeled Espadrilles in all sorts of colors. I remember seeing a piece in Town and Country of Jackie-O on a yacht in Monaco, wearing those shoes. 

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An excerpt from  "Hungry for Paris"

paris1.jpg Some ten years ago, I went to dinner one night with no expectations. A London newspaper had asked me to write about Lapérouse, an old warhorse of a restaurant overlooking the Seine on the Left Bank—it was doing historic Paris restaurants, and this one’s been around forever. I politely suggested that there might be better candidates, because as far as I knew, this place was still a slumbering tourist table flogging its past: it has several charming tiny private dining rooms with badly scratched mirrors—as the legend goes, these cuts were made by ladies testing the veracity of newly offered diamonds (real diamonds cut glass).

The editor was unyielding, so off I went. The stale-smelling dining room was mostly empty on a winter night, and though the young mâitre d’hôtel was unexpectedly charming and gracious, I was more interested by my friend Anne’s gossipy accounts of a recent visit to Los Angeles than I was by the menu.

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img 5921Going to the Olympics will be a huge amount of fun, especially if you know where to eat. Before I left on the trip, I used Facebook and Twitter to ask for restaurant recommendations.

My wife's cousin who lives in Switzerland insisted that when we were in London, we had to go to Yotam Ottolenghi's food shops selling ready-made or, as the English call it, "take-away" salads, mains and desserts.

I visited the Belgravia Ottolenghi at 13 Motcomb Street (there are others in Notting Hill, Islington and Kensington and a small sit down restaurant called Nopi near Oxford Circus).

Ottolenghi is a showman who puts his flashiest products in the front window. The tarts, cup cakes, muffins and cookies are drop dead gorgeous.

Just inside the shop, farmers market fresh salads are displayed in large oval bowls on elevated platforms, the better to grab your attention. Almost as an afterthought, the few mains like cold chicken and baked salmon are tucked out of sight in a refrigerated section.

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hunstrete.jpg Where a certain quality of light illumines the lush foliage and warms the honey coloured brick of this fascinating country house hotel. It dapples the grey and pinkish white hides of the does as they playfully flirt and then shyly turn away from the piercing eyes of the antlered deer. It ripples across the quietly moving waters of the trout stream and turns the shining leaves of the great towering trees to gold.

Hunstrete is an 18th century Georgian house set in ninety-two acres of deer park at the edge of the Mendip Hills between Bath and Bristol, dating as far back as 963 AD when Houndstreet Estate was owned by the Abbots of Glastonbury. In 1621 "Hownstret" passed to the Popham family of Littlecote whose home it became for the next three hundred years. It is definitely one of my favourite places to visit not only because of its historical background, but for the superb service headed up by general manager, Bertrand de Halgouet whose peerless French ability to charm guests makes your visit unforgettable.

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Royal-Horseguards-800One of London’s most elegant hotels is The Royal Horseguards situated on the paved Embankment overlooking the mighty River Thames flowing sedately along to the sea. This grand property has been the center of the seated establishment for many a decade and still offers warmth, glamour and service to its many patrons. Many politicians and statesmen frequent the hotel today because of its closeness to the Houses of Parliament and Ministry of Defense.

Standing on the site of Whitehall which once was one of the most famous Tudor royal palaces – I am sure Henry V111 would have loved to look out at the now London Eye twisting it’s quite ugly façade in space. The Tudor Palace was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1698 but the Banqueting House escaped the conflagration and is still used for banquets at the corner of Horseguards Parade.

For those of you who are movie fans you might like to know that Whitehall Court was featured in the 1983 Bond film ‘Octopussy’ and also in ‘Skyfall’ the latest James Bond flick.

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