Image used with permission of Klaus Haapaniemi. Ceramics from his private exhibition in Helsinki.
The Date: Friday, July 6th, 2007
The Victim: Myself, and those hitherto unknown
The Damage: A lot. In USD.
My day starts early. I roll over and look at the clock at 5:51 a.m. I am wide awake. I like being this awake this early. It means I will accomplish many things. Many trivial things, but things I’d prefer to accomplish now, now at 6 a.m. on a Friday as opposed to mid-afternoon on a precious Saturday or a sleepy Sunday.
I run the dishwasher. I wash my darks. I catch up on e-mail and vacuum/hoover in preparation for the arrival of Stefanie, my cleaning person, whom I love in ways words cannot describe. (Yes, I pre-clean for my cleaning lady. Blame my mother. And 17 years of Catholic schooling .) The Turkish grocery has English Draino and I unclog my shower. I pay some bills, I drink some tea, and I listen to M. Ward, my new obsession.
I am at work by 8:45 and things are good. I work for a great company; a very small part of this greatness means that on Fridays in the summer (although “summer” is a misnomer in London in early July 2007), I have the flexibility of leaving early. I do leave early. I leave at 1 p.m. I have an appointment. An important one.
I have an appointment with Klaus Haapaniemi. Klaus is a designer. A very good one. A-rising-star-if-not-a-star-already-star.
I was at Bacchus around the time when it first opened, and then again the other night. They have Klaus’ prints hanging on the wall. I love them. So I’m buying some.
Klaus asks me to meet him at 1:30 in front of Shoreditch House. I have seen the Sex & The City Episode. And Jen and I happened by the entrance the night before on our way back from First Thursday and Loungelover. So I am there at 1:30 on a Friday with a lot of small bills in my wallet. And there is Klaus. Really, I expect nothing more than a quick exchange. I give him money, he gives me art.
But no, no–he has taken the bus and he is so apologetic because he is just a few minutes late and now he wants to buy me a coffee! And I think, “Well golly there are no coffee places around here.” But no, no, no, he suggests a coffee at Shoreditch House.
We enter. We take the lift to the top. They are newly open and 15% under construction. We exit on the 6th floor and we pass the sleek-cat-sexy-pool; we take a seat at a large green marble table, one of many. I use the word “stalk” one too many times while drinking cappuccino after breakfast. (He drinks his coffee, black.) We talk about Scandinavian bakeries, Tallinn, Chicago, restaurants we like, process, Paul Rand, the tragedy that is the new UPS logo, Marimekko, process again, and living in London (in no particular order). He is extraordinary, singular, rare and unexpected; his eyes are pool-lake-blue-gray. He takes me on a tour of Shoreditch House and I want to live there forever.
Here is a photo of one of his wall stickers for Domestic.
I am very sad to take my leave of Klaus and House. I depart with my art, and alone through Shoreditch and Hoxton I dart, towards home I do depart. I arrive zu Hause and I admire my very clean flat. I check and recheck my e-mail and I do some work. I eat some Camembert somewhere in zwischen and then it is 5:30 and I realize I haven’t really eaten in nearly 12 hours (unpasteurized cheese aside). I contemplate my options. I cannot wait until other people are hungry. And my cupboards are bare, bare, bare. So I decide to walk over to Moro on Exmouth Market.
34-36 Exmouth Market
Tel: 0871 075 1696
The Damage: £16 for a tortilla, padron peppers, bread, water, and wine.
The Entrance: It is 6 p.m. on the dot. I walk in and ask for table of one. The guy that greets me is nice, but apparently, despite the restaurant being completely empty, they have no tables for one. They are completely booked. I hate this. This is one of my biggest pet peeves in this country. The wisdom of experience tells me that I, as a single diner, am likely to be out of the restaurant in less than 1 hour and 15 minutes. Surely not all the tables are booked at 7 p.m. on the dot? No one in London eats that early–it’s just the Americans.
I am annoyed. I debate playing my London food blog card. But I am fine with the bar. So off I go. Banish me! Yes. I am banished to the bar and I order a tortilla and some padron peppers and some Lebanese wine and they are all so perfect that I (nearly) forgive the guy with the tattoos.
The Food: The tortilla is fantastic. Really…very fantastic. And the padron peppers are perfect. And the bread–now that is a nice surprise. It is wonderful. Truly wonderful. The guy next to me asks for more of the “crispy bits” and I totally understand why.
The Service: If I ran a restaurant, I would tell my staff that they could conglomerate and chat in the back, but not in the front in front of the customers. I want to ask about the bread. I want to say that the tortilla is delicious. But there is no one to talk to. Eventually, a female server takes control and confirms that they do indeed bake their own bread.
The Company: I am alone, but never I am, am I never? The people next to me are flipping through the most beautiful stack of black-and-white photographs I have ever seen. The photos are of a certain era and the black-and-whiteness lends an element of grittiness, realness, and everydayness; I cannot stop looking. I cannot stop myself but ask. It is a book of photos by Jane Bown, and it will be ready for publication in September. And there will be a show at The Observer offices. The proof is fantastic. And you should buy it.
The Verdict: If I could repeat this day, I would.