For creatives, Amsterdam is a great place to break away and start your own thing. That’s what drew us to this city in the first place. Even if you’re a new artist in town, the people here are keen to come and see exhibitions – small and large – and they’re genuinely interested in discovering new talent, independent galleries or indie live-music venues. This city and its people are such an inspiration – they are so curious. The Jordaan is a great neighbourhood. Here you’ll find a unique selection of modern art galleries, cafés, restaurants and traditional pubs with cosy wooden interiors, known as ‘brown cafés’ in Dutch. On Saturdays you can head to Noordermarkt for a popular organic farmers’ market, while the adjacent Westerstraat holds a textile market every Monday. Not far from the Jordaan is Hazenstraat – also known as the ‘gallery street’ of Amsterdam – which we’re fond of for the beautiful old contemporary art in over 10 galleries in and around that single street, interspersed with speciality shops and quirky boutiques, bookshops and of course more cafés. Perpendicular to Hazenstraat is Elandsgracht street – it’s a little bit bigger, with trees running through the middle. There is a huge antiques market here, Antiekcentrum (www.antiekcentrumamsterdam.nl), with over 70 stands. It’s great because it’s not too touristy; it’s more where local people actually live, shop and run their daily errands, so there’s a real atmosphere to it.
We love Il Giardino (7 Blenheim Grove), close to Peckham Rye station. It’s a great local Sardinian restaurant (with a Peruvian chef!) that’s been in the area for many years, an oldfashioned place with decent grub and lovely service. Try the orecchiette with walnuts. We are spoiled for great cafés in the SE15 area, but if we had to choose one, we’d go for Queen’s Coffee Bar (2 King’s Grove) run by Gloria Douglas. She was the very first stockist of the Peckham Peculiar and it’s always a pleasure to have a coffee with her. For a drink we like The Gowlett (62 Gowlett Road), a proper pub that serves great drinks, excellent pizzas and has regular music nights. The Gowlett recently hosted a beer festival. It’s always good to get out of London occasionally – we often choose to go to Brighton or Margate, or further afield to Devon. If we’re staying in London, the Regent’s Canal is a good escape. We try to shop locally – books from Review (131 Bellenden Road), Rye Books (45 Upland Road) or Chener Books (14 Lordship Lane), and fruit and veg from the various outlets on Rye Lane. To appreciate London beyond the tourist trail, we recommend exploring the high streets of Zones 2 and 3. Central London has got way too touristy – even Soho has lost some of its charm. Places like Deptford and Tooting in south London and Kentish Town well north of the Thames give you a sense of the real London.
Semilla (54 Rue de Seine), a 6th arrondissement neo-bistro, is one of my favourite restaurants in the city for its ever-changing menu of market-fresh fare. Its crunchy, rustic bread is produced right next door at Cosi. Fondation Café (16 Rue Dupetit-Thouars), a speciality coffee bar in the North Marais, has become my regular hangout. I like to start the day with a crème (flat white); in the afternoon I’ll enjoy an excellent filter. I’m likely to succumb to one of the delicious treats supplied by Broken Biscuits, a local producer. The café is small with a terrific terrace. I love the ambience at Bespoke (3 Rue Oberkampf), a cocktail and sliders bar in the 11th arrondissement. I have a eakness for one of their signature cocktails, the ‘Capri c’est Fini’, and their sweet-potato fries. For a moody, private-club-style nightcap, I go to Maison Souquet (10 Rue de Bruxelles) in the 9th arrondissement, a former pleasure house-turnedboutique hotel whose award-winning barman turns out seriously creative cocktails. Ever since I moved to Paris nine years ago, I’ve lived in the 11th arrondissement, the hub of great dining and nightlife. It’s also brimming with independent shops, food artisans and open-air markets, which means I rarely need to go far for groceries! All year long my go-to spot is the Jardin du Palais Royal just behind the Comédie Française theatre. I’ll stroll aimlessly underneath ts spectacular arcades in the colder months, then snag a bench when it gets warmer to read or write for hours among the blossoms. Though it’s in the middle of the city, the urban din slips away inside the garden. To get away from tourists, try the Rapsail organic market (Boulevard Rapsail), the Richard-Lenoir market (Boulevard Richard-Lenoir) or the Marché Saint-Martin (31–33 Rue du Château d’Eau) for picnic provisions. For a café hangout off the tourist trail, try one of the many spots along the Carreau du Temple in the Haut-Marais.
Cesare al Casaletto (Via de Casaletto, 45) is my favourite trattoria, where I am always sure I will get classics like pasta carbonara as well as seasonal items such as artichokes, puntarelle or lamb. They have the best trattoria wine list in Rome! For the quality of coffee, I like Sciascia (Via Fabio Massimo, 80/A) best; they roast their own coffee in small batches. For reading a newspaper or people watching, I like Emporio alla Pace (Via della Pace, 28), right across from the very famous Caffè della Pace. You can find me drinking natural wines till about midnight at Litro (Via Fratelli Bonnet, 5), which I think of as my living room. I live in Trastevere, on the border of Monteverde Vecchio. There are two Trasteveres: one that is Hollywoodish and one that is lived in. I prefer the latter for many reasons: early mornings; old locals gathering at the market or bars or just the piazza for a chat; the hardware store owner who recommends the best ways to repair a fixture; involved youths occupying a movie theatre to save it from being turned into condos and shops. To feel myself completely immersed in nature I love Villa Pamphili park, up the hill from where I live. But in a pinch, and with less time on my hands, I also love the smaller Villa Sciarra park. In the Monti neighbourhood, in particular on Via del Boschetto and Via Panisperna, there are loads of small ateliers/shops where young designers make and sell their creations. There are also lots of vintage shops in Monti. Don’t be afraid to wander around after dark. Many Romans are at their workplaces during the day and go out after 8pm, first for an aperitif and then for dinner. The night is your time to mingle with them! And remember that Rome is very safe.
Located close to several of Kate and Mark’s favourite haunts, Peckham Bazaar (119 Consort Road) describes itself as a ‘pan-Balkan grill’. In fact, it’s that and more. Its chefs cook over charcoal and view the entire Ottoman Empire as source material, pairing lamb, beef, quail and vegetables with an outstanding wine list from Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia, among other places.www.peckhambazaar.comTak
2. CHRISTIAN DE MONTAGUÈRE
Christian de Montaguère (20 Rue de l’Abbé Grégoire), named after its proprietor, is a treasure of a shop – an island of sunny Caribbean energy in the middle of the 6th arrondissement. It stocks some of the Caribbean’s best artisanal products, including carefully chosen jams, salts, oils and cosmetics. Its rum selection is the best in Paris. The boutique also schedules frequent tastings and masterclasses (in English upon request) to share rum knowledge. www.christiandemontaguere.
Centrale Montemartini (Via Ostiense 106). This captivating little museum has a low profile in a city thronging with reminders of the ancient world. This is a shame because Centrale Montemartini, located in a building that once served as Rome’s first public electricity plant, maintains a permanent collection of hundreds of ancient statues. The former power plant still contains its modern, once-functional infrastructure, allowing for some curious contrasts between the ancient and the modern.
4. CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE
Living in Amsterdam means you get to live among good contemporary architecture on a daily basis, but if you go north, architecture lovers will find where the ‘new’ harbour and industrial-like part of Amsterdam begins, marked by the striking new home of EYE Film Institute on the north bank of the waterfront, officially opened in 2012.