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Friday 30 May 2014

This Week The Mice Have Mostly Been...

Can we just say...

Are you now singing in your head "Now this is the story all about how, my life got twisted upside down...

If you weren't, we bet you are now.

While you're doing that, let's take a moment to celebrate the fact that it's Friday and two (three if you're a HKer) blissful days of weekend await you...

This week has been a rather slow week in Mouseland. No crazy busy working, no social whirlwind, just pretty run of the mill but you need a few of those weeks here and there to recharge, reflect and get prepped for the big summer of awesomeness that we know is just around the corner.  

When we haven't been dreaming of jugs of Pimms and suntanning, this week the Mice have mostly been...

Dining with Banksy. And Jeff Koons. And Kaws. And a whole heap of other delicious modern artists at brand new gastro-gallery, Bibo.

The hype about Bibo started months ago, and although we were super excited to go and check it out, there have definitely been plenty of furtive whispers since it opened three weeks ago, that it's not nearly as good as it thinks it is.
We'd have to disagree.
Bibo sits between Hollywood Road and Cat Street on the former site of a French Tramway company. The story goes, that when the Tramway company moved to bigger premises leaving this site abandoned, a bohemian set of squatters led by an artist called Bibo moved in and started covering every blank surface with their work. The restaurant takes the building's roots and runs with it, naming itself after the squatters' ringleader, filling the walls from floor to ceiling with modern art and peppering the dining experience with tramway references.
As you arrive at the entrance on Hollywood Road, you're swept past the brass tramway lettering on the mosaic-tiled wall and swished through a space-age gold sliding door to the lobby.
We arrived on Wednesday planning to just stop by for drinks as when we'd called they'd said that they well fully booked for dinner all week. Luckily, we thought to double check again with the door girls, and minutes later we were being shown to a table. So, top tip: Bibo hold a handful of tables each night for walk-ins (which it may have been helpful for them to let us know when we called to try to book...).
Reservation niggles aside, we were pretty happy to bag a last minute table, so off we trotted, down the stairs to the restaurant, ready to feast on French food and street art...

And what a feast. Saunter past the bar where a Banksy casually hangs then wander past the spraypainted bookshelves (more on those later) where a couple of Koons' balloon dogs nestle and Diptyque Feu de Bois candles flicker.

Exposed brass pipes and high ceilings give the space an industrial feel and each and every wall is crammed corner to corner with art.

Our table was slap bang opposite the huge wooden Kaws figure and parked just behind my chair was a King of Kowloon spraypainted moped.

We started off with a couple of cocktails (the Hippie Flip is scrumptious) and decided we may as well push out the boat and try the tasting menu (mainly because we wanted to try everything and could't choose between all the incredible sounding dishes on the menu).
The kitchen is helmed up by Chef Mutaro Balde formerly of Paris' Alain Ducasse and London's Joel Robuchon. Bibo's menu is fine french dining with a twist (isn't there always a twist...). The tasting menu is newly launched and made up of a collection of Bibo's bestsellers. It's a fairly punchy HK$1,300 a head, but its a procession of beautifully executed French classics starting with a foie gras Amuse Bouche, ending with petit four and coffee with plenty of scallops, wagyu beef and caviar in between.
The food is rich, indulgent and totally delicious but in Hong Kong it's not hard to find this sort of extravagant French dining. The really refreshing part about Bibo, is eating your foie gras with a side of drippy JonOne graffiti rather than in a morgue-like temple to beige filled with bored businessmen on expense accounts. 
Service throughout our meal was efficient, friendly and helpful without being overbearing. No arrogant, intimidating waiters here, just staff who genuinely seem enthusiastic and knowlegeable about the food and the art. Case in point, post-meal, we were sitting in the library area chatting, when our waiter came over to top up our wine glasses. After he knowledgeably answered a few questions we asked him about the graffitied Metro Map on the wall opposite us, he took us on a little impromtu tour of the restaurant pointing out pieces we hadn't seen, telling interesting stories about others and generally totally making the evening for us.
Our favourite pieces at Bibo? Definitely the graffitied bookshelves by East End Street Artist, Pure Evil.  We've been fans of Pure Evil since (bizarrely) we saw his work on the Apprentice a couple of years ago. Although he was originally commissioned to paint a wall mural, Pure Evil, who flew into Hong Kong with his spray cans especially ended up transforming the bookshelves into a Audrey Hepburn face merge triptyque. If you're as much of a fan as we are, you can buy prints of Pure Evil's work via his e-shop for a very affordable £200.

Whether you fancy a cocktail in a cool new bar, a blow out French feed, or just a modern art fix, Bibo guarantees to feed your body and your mind!
163 Hollywood Road
Sheung Wan
Hong Kong
+852 2956 3188
Getting Lippy with our brand new make-up love, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics' Lip Tar. We first heard about this lip wonder at the start of the year in India Knight's ever brilliant Sunday Times Beauty Column where she raved about Lip Tar's staying power and the array of "va va voom" colours that it comes in. Cut to February, and we're standing in Sephora in New York in front of a whole wall of Lip Tars desperately trying to choose which to pop in our basket! We're actually not generally big lipstick fans, usually plumping for a smoky eye over a statement lip but Lip Tar may just be set to change that.

Lip Tar goes on like a gloss but then dries down to a satiny, Matt lipstick-like look.  You only need the tiniest blob of this super concentrated colour to get flawless lips which last all day no matter how much you eat, drink, chat or kiss... Each tube comes with a teeny weeny lip-brush all zipped up in its own little plastic bag (perfect for popping in your handbag). We dipped our toe in the Lip Tar water with the neutral blush toned, Hush, and the punchier juicy coral, Radiate

We love, love, love them both and we're now just trying to pick out the next colours to snap up and add to our collection... 
Boho-ing our homes with a little help from the brand new Mara Hoffman x Anthropologie home collection. When we heard whispers that the queen of boho-luxe prints, Mara Hoffman, was teaming up with American lifestyle emporium, Anthropologie, we were more than a little bit excited. And we're thrilled to discover that the end result is more incredible that we'd even hoped for. Here are our favourite pieces...

US$28 - 298

And now we're off to sink a cocktail or six and plan out the weekend's fun...

We hope you are too! Have the best weekend!
The Mice

Thursday 29 May 2014

My Hotel Nirvana: Jeeva Beloam, Lombok

The more corners of the world I adventure to, the more hotel pillows I lay my head on, the more my idea of the perfect place to stay changes.

Once upon a time, I'd have judged five star luxury on the basis of volume of marble in the lobby, minutes it took for the concierge to source tickets to a sold-out show, and whether I could work any of hi-tech gadgets in the room (a control panel far too complex to fathom? It must be an uber-luxe hotel...).

These days my ideal hotel is smaller, more stylish and a lot more personalised. I'm well aware that this isn't groundbreaking stuff - the world and his Mrs Smith now all profess a preference for boutique hotels over megalith chains - but, let's get started by stating the obvious. Boutique is better. That aside, what elevates a handful of rooms and design magazine-worthy interior to a truly stellar hotel experience? What gives a hotel the X factor (or should that be the Zzz factor?)? 

For me it's a finely tuned combo of great service, great location, great food and the sort of bed that you can only imagine is made of clouds. But, if Trip Advisor and its schizophrenic reviews teach us anything, it's that hotels are very much not one-size fits all and no one has a universal answer to the Zzz factor question. 

Or so I thought... On a trip to Lombok last month I found a hotel so incredible, that not only is it my very own personal hotel Nirvana but I pretty much defy anyone not to be wowed by it. It doesn't have room service, it doesn't have a bath you can swim laps in, it doesn't even have mobile signal. But it's actually the lack of all these that make me love it even more (particularly that lack of mobile signal - hello, real out of office...).

This perfect hotel is a beach camp in Lombok called Jeeva Beloam and if you go there and hate it, well, good, because if it's fully booked for the next five years the next time I go to reserve a room I'll be heartbroken.

To call Jeeva Beloam a 'camp' is a bit like saying that Monet was a bit of a doodler or that Einstein had a higher IQ than average. If this is a camp, I'm a born again camping enthusiast.

Jeeva is made up of eleven wooden beruga houses scattered along a private beach on the far South-Eastern tip of Lombok. Getting down to the hotel from the airport takes a couple of hours (the hotel collect you from arrivals in an air-conditioned 4x4 and the transfer's included in your room rate). As you move further South, the corn fields and rice paddies begin to outnumber the houses and the people you drive past stare like you're a rare vision while smiling, waving and shouting out at you in their very best English. The final stretch of the journey is a bone-rattlingly bumpy ride down a rutted, unfinished road but by the time you reach the 55 hectares of jungly forest where the camp nestles, all memories of any difficulties in getting there seem magically swiped away.

Even if the hotel itself was  a complete hovel you'd be beside yourself with delirious excitment on emerging from the lush, green jungle and setting eyes on the beach. It's a spot that's impossible to descibe without liberal use of tired old cliches because it genuinely is picture postcard stuff. 

The sand really is powder fine and dazzlingly white, the surf is truly mouthwash turquoise, with foam-capped, 10 feet high waves that rip across the bay and crash against the shore. It is utterly deserted. You do feel like a modern day Robinson Crusoe. And it is going to make every other beach I ever step foot on look a little bit rubbish.

But Jeeva's not just a pretty face. Besides being breathtakingly beautiful, its also an eco resort in the truest, non-marketing hyperbole sense. The camp site has eco reserve status and is home to flora and fauna galore - butterflies flit from beautiful flower to beautiful flower and I'm certain one morning I even spied a kingfisher sitting in a tree opposite the bathroom. The hotel is off the power grid, uses sustainable energy sources whenever possible and keeps electricity running only during periods of the day that the resort really needs it.

Sustainability continues in the construction of the berugas which have been made by local craftsmen using traditional house-building tecniques and natural wood, bamboo and thatching. Worry not though, this is eco with a hefty side of chic. Each beruga has a huge beach-facing front deck, soaring peaked ceilings (geckos with vertigo need not apply as resident mosquito catchers) and simple, stylish decor.

The huge mosquito-netted four poster beds ensure an incredible night's sleep, definitely helped along by the slumber-inducing chorus of cicadas and lullaby of crashing waves. Leave the curtains open at night and you'll wake to the spine-tinglingly beautiful view of the sun shimmying its way up into the sky above the blue, blue sea. A vision which makes a morning swim irrestible. Luckily a dip lies just a hop, skip and a tumble away from your pillow. 

Bathrooms are rustic-luxe with hammered brass baisins, peppermint and lemongrass products and large rain showers (literally actually, shower water is solar-heated and comes from Jeeva's rain catchment basins).

As the hotel is so remote and there are no restaurants and bars in the vicinity, board is on an all-inclusive basis (save for alcohol which is extra). Meals are served in the open-sided tenda in the centre of the beach which is the only thing in the camp that gets anywhere even vaguely close to tent-ish. But let's not get carried away, the dining area is fronted by a day-bed lined sun deck, there's a beautiful rug on the wooden floorboards and cushioned sofas sit scattered between the tables laid with flower garlanded napkins. The menu for each three course meal changes daily to make the most of the best produce available from local fisherman and farmers.

What goes on Jeeva Beloam? Well, days drift by in a blur of napping, reading and splashing through the surf all punctuated by delicious meals and a few Bintangs. If that sounds like too much hard work, you can get a massage in the spa or just while away the hours reclining on the daybed on your terrace counting the myriad shades of blue smudged across the horizon in front of you.

Alternatively, if doing nothing's not your thing (who are you and what is wrong with you???), the beyond helpful staff will happily bundle you off on an adventure tailored to you. 

History buff with a dash of the David Attenborough? How about a bike ride to a WWII Japanese canon with a bit of monkey-spotting en route? 

Energetic Photographer? Perhaps a guided hike up to the bluff above the beach offering the most incredible vantage point to pap that A-list beach?

Water baby? There's snorkelling and kyaking over at the neighbouring Pink Beach or worldclass surfing just a short drive and little boatride away? 

Hungry angler? You'll maybe want to borrow a fishing rod and clamber round the rocks just off the shore to catch your supper.

At sunset, sit back and watch the sky turn amber while sipping a gin & tonic by the fire pit. Or, if you're craving solitude, at a nod to the staff, find yourself whisked off to the nearby Sunset Beach where a blanket will be unfurled for you to lie back on and gaze out at the sinking sun while the pearlfarm workers pack up for the day and putter off on their fishing boats.

Once night falls and you've feasted on a seafood barbecue accompanied by live local music, it's time to hit the beach one last time before bed. Turn your face skywards and prepare to be dazzled by a stargazing extravaganza. 

In all the corners of the world that I've made it to so far, Jeeva Beloam ranks up there with my absolute favourite. If you get the chance to visit, go in a heartbeat, and here's to all of us being lucky enough to uncover at least a couple more special places even half as magical.
Wednesday 28 May 2014

3BM Kitchen : Ruby Juice...

After trucksful of pasta, bucketsful of prosecco and far too many boards full of meats and cheeses, it's safe to say that my Italian adventures have left me feeling a little sluggish. I wouldn't have done it any differently but a health kick is now desperately required to get me back on the bikini diet - especially as my next beach break is under a month away! 
When researching for my cauliflower post last week, I also stumbled across a very motivational juice post on my new favourite blog Eat Yourself Skinny. Now I know there are some negatives linked to juicing diets but I think as long as you stick to majority vegetable juices, you're in the safe zone. You want to steer clear of 100% fruit juices as they may taste like a tropical dream but are actually jam-packed full of sugar. The intention is healthy however, realistically you wouldn't sit down for breakfast and munch your way through two apples, two pears and three kiwi fruits would you?!
I hold my hands up - I've never tried a vegetable juice before so my guess is as good as yours... If I'm honest, I'm a little scared, but with additions like cucumber, mint and lemon I'm hoping all that kale and celery will be transformed into a light and fresh glass of deliciousness...fingers crossed!
Over the next few weeks London Towers is going to be juicing up a storm - we are going to kick off slowly with juice breakfasts followed by healthy lunches and dinners and see how we go from there! We will of course be sure to keep you posted on all favourites along the way but first up, we introduce...Ruby Juice!
Here goes...
You Need...
3 cucumbers
1 beetroot
1 red grapefruit

To Do...
1. If you have a juicer then the whole process should be a little quicker as you can literally chop everything in half and away you go. However as beginners we are starting out with a blender. So, just make sure you chop everything a little smaller and take off any hard rinds. 


2. It's as simple as chucking everything into a blender, using the settings to blend fast and then slower, fast and then slower - until you have a juice consistency. (Feel free to add a little water to get the juicing going).

3. Once blended serve straight up or if you want a smoother finish pour through a sieve 
4. Slurppppp away! 

Tuesday 27 May 2014

On the 3BM iPod: Little Shoes Big Voice

It's post-Bank Holiday Tuesday, which means it's effectively Monday. And there's a whole working week ahead. In fact, there's five days of work to squeeze into four. We're sad. We feel like this minus the martini and bed part...

We can't fix all of the above doom and gloom unfortunately, but what we can do is introduce you to a darling duo - Jack Durtnall and Emily Harvey AKA 'Little Shoes Big Voice' who will hopefully pick your start of the week mood up a little...

Contemporary, feel good, uber talented - think Little Dragon and London Grammar and you're in the right ball park. 

The London based talent recently released their debut single, ‘Nightfall’, which, having listened to it on repeat, it's safe to say I'm pretty darn obsessed with. Apparently, the music video was shot with next to no budget and over just two nights in Hammersmith which seems pretty incredible given the rather spectacular end result.

'Nightfall' ...

Another beaut is 'Heaven Ain't High' ...

And then there's 'Little Things Mean A lot'...

(And, if you're sitting at your desk thinking 'where the hell have I heard that before?', just to stop you driving yourself mad trying to figure out the answer, the answer is on the AXA TV ad!)

We heart them. Hope you do too...

Happy Tuesday! Just four days (and counting) til Friday...
Monday 26 May 2014

Loft Love & Hidden Histories...

One of my favourite pastimes when I go back to our family home is to climb our loft ladder, shut out the world as I know it and while away the hours getting lost in hidden family memories. From faded photos of us as teeny Mice to scrap books bursting with newspaper clippings and playschool artwork - there's something so fascinating about going back in time and uncovering family stories from the past.

The latest gem I stumbled upon was a set of beautiful ink sketches by our late Granny, Joan. Artistic flair runs in the Mouse family - our Mum was an amazing artist, and we have her work all over the walls of our family home. When our Mum was at art college, her part-time job was to dress the dancers at the Royal Opera House – no ordinary M&S or John Lewis Saturday shop job like us Mice had! This led to her stealing time in the wings between dressing commitments to sketch out the stage scene unfolding before her eyes. She later went on to sell her work, with my Dad’s help, at Enfield Art Fair and impressively, even Liberty in London – yes, I told you she was super talented! That artistic eye and talent lives on through all of us Mice in one way or another and it's a great passion we all share as sisters. 

So, there were no surprises when I uncovered our Granny's beautiful sketches a few weekends ago, but, although I knew that she was a fashion illustrator, I'd never actually seen any of her work. When mid-way through a spot of loft digging I found an old, dog-eared and dusty art portfolio I assumed it would be filled with more of our childhood artwork but instead inside lay the most beautiful and detailed sketches. Some half finished and some mounted magazine prints...

I later found out that Granny used to freelance for a fashion wholesaler, Elizabeth Henry, drawing magazine advertisements for the brand. I wish adverts nowadays looked more like these - so stylish and timelessly classic. 

Not a usual post for us, but this family find really inspired me to do a little more delving when it comes to what our parents and grandparents used to get up to in their lifetimes before we arrived and took the limelight!