THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Dominique Ansel Bakery comes to London

Slowly rotating 135m above the River Thames, trapped in a small capsule with only a select number of food influencers and a gluttonous number of pastries, may seem like an unusual place for breakfast. This extraordinary setting, however, was perfectly suited to celebrate the launch of Dominique Ansel Bakery London, the first European venue opened by the chef responsible for the Cronut craze, numerous other foodie inventions, and the most popular bakery in New York.

Whilst Dominique Ansel is particularly famous for creating the Cronut, the delicious croissant-donut hybrid that has caused his New York venue to have hour long queues every morning, it is but one of a host of creative sweets being served in his bakeries. A particular favourite of the chef’s (and mine) is the DKA, or ‘Dominique’s Kouign Amann’, which is a sort of caramelized croissant, with a flaky interior surrounding by a crunchy shell. He is not resting on his laurels either, constantly innovating, changing the menu, and updating the flavours (the Cronut changes every month and has individual flavours for each city location). It is because of this that visits to one of Dominique’s bakeries are so unique and worth the morning commute.

I thoroughly recommend heading down to Elizabeth Street in Belgravia as soon as you can to see what Dominique has in store for you, just be prepared to wait in line!

More information about the new Dominique Ansel Bakery in London here.

Photographed and written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Gabriel Kenny-Ryder.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Haig Club Whisky Masterclass at The Folly

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Ever since seeing David Beckham looking effortlessly sophisticated and cool around the Scottish Highlands in the advert for Haig Club whisky I have been itching to try it, despite my reservations regarding celebrity endorsements. I had the opportunity to this week when a friend and I went to The Folly Bar in Monument to take part in a cocktail masterclass using Beckham’s brand of Scotch.

The masterclass was held in a private area in the Folly, which felt warm and intimate. Both my guest and I had our own cocktail stations with the necessary equipment set up and waiting for us when we arrived. Our friendly ‘mixologist’, Alessio, then talked us through how to make two different cocktails using Haig Club. The first a classic Old Fashioned, which is a favourite of mine, is made slowly using only sugar, bitters, orange peel, ice and of course, whisky. The end result was deliciously smooth and flavoursome, with the whisky not overpowering the orange or the bitters.

After a brief interlude to drink our first cocktails, we were taught to make one of Alessio’s own creations. Ice-cold Haig Club was added to a glass containing orange marmalade and grapefruit bitters, before being topped off with lavender and a blackberry. With no ice to dilute the whisky this had more of a burn to it, however the delicate flavours still shone through and the scent of the lavender added another element to the cocktail.

The masterclass was a very enjoyable experience and I definitely learned a few tricks for the next time I try my hand at cocktail making. The atmosphere in the Folly was very pleasant and our cocktails delicious, with the Haig Club providing a good base for the added flavours. The Folly runs masterclasses on request and I would definitely recommend one for an unusual night out.

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Information of The Folly’s masterclasses can be found at:

All photos by Gabriel Kenny-Ryder.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: A Time And A Place… For Everything

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Last Tuesday evening I found myself struggling up a packed staircase to a busy selection of rooms at the top of L’Escargot, one of the most lavish and well known restaurants in Soho, to spy a selection of photos depicting eccentrics, transvestites and day-to-day scenes from this storied area of London. The event was the opening of A Time and a Place… For Everything, an exhibition which showcases three amateur photographers who have each, in their own way, been capturing Soho life for the last 40 plus years.

Robert Stallard’s photographs date from the 1970s and depict local Soho streets and daily life in the area, aiming to show its unique character attempting to survive development. This aim is just as relevant now as when the photographs were originally taken.

Strangeways shows a series of photos dating from 2013 onwards, the work focuses on the human condition and his graphic images are unflinching in the face of taboo providing a raw and voyeuristic look at the subjects.

Damien Frost’s photographs have a more measured and posed look to them. They are taken from his ‘A Photo a Day’ series, capturing a unique sitter in a portrait daily over the period of one year. The works in the exhibition show a range of characters on the fringes of mainstream society, appearing strong and dignified in their chosen environment, Soho.

The images from all three photographers appear completely at home on the walls of L’Escargot, which is a testament to their ability to capture the ‘spirit of Soho’, as well as to the curator’s clever selection. At first, I was not sure which photographs were included in the show and which were on permanent display. Combined with a buzzing crowd of people, cabaret-style entertainment, and a tailored array of cocktails, the event created what I thought to be an authentic Soho experience. I did wonder how well the photographs would fair in a less appropriate environment, however. I found some of Stallard’s images lacking in compositional interest and Strangeways relies very heavily on shock tactics, creating some photographs that lack depth in my opinion.

My final thoughts on the event and the exhibition are mainly positive, however. The space and the photographs work well together and the opening fizzed with Soho spirit, resulting in a very enjoyable evening.

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Gabriel Kenny-Ryder.