THOROUGHLY MODERN MISS: Wildebeest, Falmouth

Falmouth’s vegan restaurant, Wildebeest, offers a cosy atmosphere and beautiful attention to food, with a small and well-thought out menu that wouldn’t be out of place in a fine-dining restaurant.

Wildebeest Restaurant, Falmouth

The service is friendly and welcoming in this tiny Scandinavian-style café, with walls adorned with animal-loving chalk scribbles and floating cacti. Nothing is too much trouble, there’s never a rush, and three courses while away easily amongst a relaxed and warm setting, surrounded by happy eaters.

When the food does arrive, the delicacy, colour and conception of the plates is inspired. Turnip carpaccio, pickled shallots, mustard cream, dill, German rye bread: we spend a few minutes admiring the attention to detail in the plating of the food, and then after tasting, the intensity of flavour that’s condensed into a dish so small and beautiful. The mustard cream cuts through the sweet turnip and tangy shallot, perfect with the crunchy texture of the rye. This dish was the highlight of the evening.

Wildebeest, Falmouth

For the main course- a spicy Laksa with butternut squash and flat rice noodles, mange tout, pea tendrils. The soup was a little tame, but packed a warm ginger-y punch and was presented well, considering the difficulty in making a broth look good.

The star of the main dishes was, however, the crispy polenta with a tomato and oregano sauce. Served with kale, oyster mushrooms, almond ricotta, crunchy butterbeans and micro garlic chives, this dish exploded in flavour that was rich and comforting, despite the complex combination of ingredients.

For dessert we shared a warm chocolate and raspberry brownie and some peanut butter and chocolate fudge swirl ice cream. The perfect indulgence after a delicious supper (and you couldn’t tell it was all dairy-free).

Wildebeest accept walk-ins (apart from on Tuesday’s, when they’re closed, in the most Cornish-life way), but booking ahead is advisable- with less than 20 seats available- this restaurant is only getting more and more popular in a county that’s expanding its food expectations and broadening its culinary horizons.

More information and book a table at Wildebeest here.

Written by Jade Phipps.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MRS: Revival Clinic, Chiswick

What’s the best present a person can get? The gift of eternal youthfulness, I’m saying. And for my birthday recently I received just that. OK, not the eternal bit, but something that seemed like a miracle just the same: something that made me look and feel brilliant, like I was years younger and full of potential with everything to look forward to. My perfect gift was in the form of a deluxe facial by the brilliant Finnish beauty therapist Tanya Christianssen at the aptly named Revival Clinic in Chiswick.

nordic beauty chiswick

I arrived looking twice my age, rackety and run-down like a clapped out old car and left looking human and radiant with a spring in my step. Bumping into a friend outside Sainsbury’s she was suspicious. How come I looked younger than when we last met?

“Facial with Tanya”, I said, nodding to the clinic across the road. My friend didn’t believe the absence of surgical intervention or a needle, so I talked her through the order of events:

Arriving at the Revival Clinic at 2a Acton Lane at the appointed time I was whisked downstairs without waiting by Tanya. Once in her calming softly lit treatment room she explained that my treatment was going to combine two of the world’s most effective approaches to skin care a CACI facial with Environ products.  This I discovered is highly unusual. CACI therapists stick to CACI products, but Environ created by a South African plastic surgeon and skin cancer specialist Des Fernandes twenty years ago, features serums that rejuvenate and condition the deeper layers of the skin.

CACI uses a tiny electrical current to lift and tone the muscles so tightening the facial contours (in a good way!). This has the added benefit of pushing the products deeper into the epidermis and so enhancing their effectiveness.

Revival Clinic, Chiswick

The facials are specially tailored for each individual and mine began with a deep cleanse using steam, AVST (advanced vitamin skin therapy) pre-cleansing oil, followed by a clay mask which gently exfoliates the skin without scratching it. This was softly removed with AVST cleansing milk.  Then came the Environ Active Vitamin A, E and C serum to rejuvenate and deeply hydrate the skin, used with the CACI Ultra ‘super lift’. I thought this might be painful and not at all relaxing, but as Tanya expertly moved the wand like probes over my face, I could quite easily have fallen asleep.  I was then treated to an Environ collagen serum that was massaged into my face using an Ionzyme machine. This uses ultrasound technology to again push the product deep into the skin, where it would help to fill fine lines, tighten the skin and even out my skin tone.

‘That must be it’, I thought drowsily, but then Tanya applied an award winning Swiss Apple stem cell Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid Mask to plump and further moisturise my skin and give it a lovely glow and whilst this took twenty minutes to do just that, she gave me a wonderfully stress-releasing head and shoulder massage. I could have had a foot reflexology massage at this point that I’d have loved, but given the state my feet were in, was far too embarrassed to take my socks off.

Well, that really must be it, I thought, finally drifting off, but no. There then followed a CACI LED red light therapy to stimulate my own collagen production and promote healing and cell renewal. This is the gift that keeps on giving. A couple of weeks later at a parents evening a fellow mum whom I hadn’t seen since the last school event before Christmas said: “You look really well! How is it we’re all looking older and you’re looking younger?” “2 hour facial with Tanya.” I said. She was sceptical. So I explained. Though there wasn’t time to mention that aside from the wonderful deluxe therapy and a range of facials, Tanya also provides anti-cellulite treatments (with a CeulluM6 machine) and Lipofirm wraps, deep tissue massage and reflexology.

2 hours with Tanya and years fall away. As Arnie so succinctly put it in his own journey through the time-space continuum, “I’ll be back.”

More information here.

Written by Thoroughly Modern Mrs, Elizabeth Kinder.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MISSY – La bohème, ENO

It’s my experience that a successful bohème must tick 3 boxes; it needs excellent singing from the 6 main characters; undeniable chemistry between Mimi and Rodolfo; and it needs to make you shed a tear or two at the end. Bonus points for making the production fresh, and good production design but these are secondary to the three main criteria. It seems that the latest ENO bohème tried too hard to focus on these secondary criteria rather than making sure the essential boxes were ticked first.

The process of modernizing opera classics is not yet perfected. In some cases it works incredibly well and adds hugely to the production (“for example, see Jonathan Miller’s now mainstream Mafia Rigoletto). In others cases it doesn’t. Unfortunately ENO’s latest staging of bohème veers towards the latter..

In theory, the idea was not preposterous. Replacing Mimi’s outdated illness with a heroin addiction definitely updated the production and made it more relevant to today’s society as opposed to her original, outdated consumptive illness. The heroin first appears as Rodolfo stays behind at the garret (now a stark, white studio littered with bongs and carrier bags) to ‘finish a few lines’. Mimi enters and what was once one of the most touching and beautifully innocent scenes in opera is now replaced with a pair of junkies and their drug-addled infatuation with one another.

The Café Momus scene that follows the pair’s meeting is a busy, bustling feast for the eyes with the ENO chorus creating a fantastic atmosphere as they so often do. The production’s eccentricities continued as Rodolfo bought Mimi a pink wig rather than a traditional bonnet before they join the rest of the bohemians at a neon-lit diner-esque Café Momus. It is unclear whether the bright pink lights and bizarre figures in the scene are a figment of Mimi and Rodolfo’s drug-fuelled high or if it’s just the production’s attempt at modernisation.  This lack of clarity continues into the second half as the heroin was occasionally referenced, for example, Marcello lifting Mimi’s sleeves indicating ‘track marks’, but she still dies from a particularly ‘consumption-y’ cough.

Though this new production still needs to have a few wrinkles ironed out, the music was, on the whole, still excellent. Particular highlights came from Corinne Winters as Mimi and Simon Butteriss as the double part of the equally sleazy Benoit and Alcindoro.  The camaraderie between Rodolfo, Marcello, Colline and Schaunard was definitely there but on occasion the ensemble suffered. Although the chemistry between Winters and Zach Borichevsky (Rodolfo) was tangible, their heroin induced affair seemed to confuse and somewhat diminish the tenderness that has featured in more traditional productions.

Going by the initial tick-list outlined above, out of these three, I’d give the ENO’s latest production of La bohème, 1 and a half ticks; the chemistry between the two lovers was definitely there, regardless of what induced the love; some of the singing was indeed excellent, but there were some shaky moments that unfortunately do not grant an entire ‘tick’ earn only half a tick; and unfortunately not a tear was shed by the writer at the end which is usually the litmus test for any La bohème.

La bohème continues at the ENO until 26 November, book tickets here.

Written by Thoroughly Modern Missy.