Johnny Roxburgh

 Johnny's Eye 

Menu
  • Keeping a Weather ‘Eye’

    • Styling
    • Travel
    • Weddings

    Now that summer has finally come to London I thought I would share a few of my favourite, blissful places to stay in the sunshine. Some are bobbing in the middle of the ocean and others nestle in romantic parts of Europe.

    My first piece of heaven is Petit St Vincent – a small private island in the Grenadines.

    Ringed by beaches of pale cream sand and surrounded by water the colour of topaz bursting with marine life – this is truly paradise. There is no Wi-Fi, TV or telephone in the charming guest cottages, perfect for a relaxing holiday (of course if you desperately want to talk to the world, the main building has modern connections).

    The crystal-clear ocean supplies the hotel with the most delicious seafood, including fantastic lobster. The season is between November and April, and the hotel’s super talented chefs make great dishes – one of my favourites is a perfect lobster curry, using local white coconut and sharp sun-ripened limes.

    Snorkelling, diving (Jean-Michel Cousteau, Jacques’ son, has a dive centre on the island), walking through the lush tropical island and sailing out to the reef in an authentic sloop to swim with turtles –  these are some of the things that make up a perfect holiday. Of course, you might just want to lie in the sun, go to the Balinese treetop spa or enjoy the candlelit restaurants while watching the golden sun slip slowly into the sea.

    This is an incredible and very special destination, one that you shouldn’t miss.

     

    In 2004 I organized the two dinners given by the head of the Greek Olympic committee in Athens. They were spectacular events in a wonderful custom designed pavilion – all the world’s heads of state came for dinner and we created a spectacular menu and glorious setting – all in all, a huge success.

    It was months of very hard work and when it was finished I needed some R and R and so left for the beautiful island of Santorini where the Greek sunshine worked its magic.

    So this year I was thrilled to be introduced to Kirini Suites & Spa Hotel, with 18 rooms all piled up like a chalk white toy box overlooking the agapanthus blue Aegean Sea.

    The Anthos poolside restaurant serves fantastic local food inspired by Greek and Byzantine culture. Santorini is also famous for its wines and there are wine tastings to help you choose something extra special for dinner.

    The spa has a link to Petit St Vincent in that it uses Ligne St Barth products, which are of course, inspired by the Caribbean. The treatments are superb, drenching your skin in oils and creams to rejuvenate and relax the winter-weary body.

    Santorini itself is so picturesque, I love it – traffic free, glitteringly white, with the air filled with the scent of flowers, the sea and the gentle fragrance of wood smoke ovens and rosemary skewered barbecues.

    A week of Greek sunshine is wonderful – a spoiling treat in a hotel that knows all about pampering, from charming staff to sublimely comfortable rooms.

    No wonder The Ancient Gods chose Greece.

     

    The delightful town of Isle sur la Sorgue has the liveliest antique and Brocante markets in Provence. One of my favourite gilded crucifixes came from there when I was staying for an old friends wedding anniversary. Sadly then I hadn’t come across the hotel Crillon Le Brave.

    Located in the middle of a lovely Provençal village, it has delightful bedrooms with my favourite Frette sheets – one of the great solutions to a good nights sleep. There are three restaurants all serving excellent local food, La Grange, Jérôme Blanchet and Bistrot 40K. The hotel organises truffle weekends in season which include truffle hunting with the local farmer and then enjoying a delicious truffle tasting menu accompanied by some of the areas most impressive wines.

    Locally, the wines of Chateau Neuf-du-Pape are among my favourites – many years ago I was taken round their vineyards and loved the idea that under the vines they placed flat stones which absorbed the sunshine during the day and then gave back the heat at night – clever and simple.

    The hotel rooms have views over Mont Ventoux from where the famous rosé comes – excellent drinking in the Bistrot where the menu is amazingly well priced.

    Just 40 minutes from Avignon, this hotel is the ideal base for a long weekend – lots to do and at the end of the day you can have a massage in the Provence Spa where Carole Bamford’s delicious products result in a perfumed treatment which is the essence of Provence.

    These three little oases can all be hired for exclusive use and would be perfect for a wedding, birthday or special anniversary.
    Curated by my friend Lisa Small I would be delighted to talk to you about these and other ‘EYE’deas.

    Next, Johnny’s Eye is off to Florence. Another bit of ‘Eye’talian fun.

     

  • La Dolc’Eye’ Vita

    • Styling
    • Travel

    I am fortunate to spend lots of time working in Italy. The food, wine, flowers and people are all wonderful.

    Venice is my second home. In the spring, I like nothing more than sitting on the edge of the Grand Canal drinking a cappuccino in the morning sun or enjoying a lunch of prawns in a lightly curried sauce at Harry’s Dolci, while looking back over the water to Santa Maria della Salute. This is usually helped by a cold glass of Italian white wine.

    This weekend the extraordinary Genesis Foundation had arranged a performance of Sir James MacMillan’s Stabat Mater in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican and they asked me to arrange a dinner the night before and a lunch on the day of the recital.

    We held a dinner the first night in a charming restaurant next to the French embassy.

    To dress the long tables I went to the wonderful local street flower stalls and chose lilac, peonies, stock, and sweet william all in shades of pink and purple and then mixed them with acid green guelder rose and vibrant apricot ranunculus.

    I cut them short and arranged one type of each flower in water tumblers. Placed down the centre of long tables, the 100 little vases looked really effective, especially interspersed with twinkling candles.

    It was a super warm evening and like the best Italian families the guests sat and enjoyed a great dinner including a risotto with pears, gorgonzola and Roman mint – all very relaxed and really too good.

    Lunch was held on the Sunday at the spectacular Villa Miani. This huge white palace is perched high above Rome with sensational city views. A delicious salad of artichoke (at their best just now) and pecorino, was followed by new seasons lamb and then tiny wild strawberries macerated in amaretto. A really perfect lunch, especially with the temperature nudging 30 degrees.

    The recital was simply breathtaking and of course, the setting could not have been more incredible. To be able to sit for two hours looking at Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, listening to great music, is not something that many people experience.

    It is so marvellous that there are still people who commission great works of music and art. An extraordinary legacy.

    On Sunday evening I went for dinner at Pierluigi, the superb Italian fish restaurant. Supper was excellent, as was a wonderful Negroni, which had been aged in a small wooden barrel, before being poured over glacier ice and served with dried orange peel.

    We stayed at the lovely Dom Hotel on Via Giulia. This is a perfect location and the street has the famous bridge which runs from the Palazzo Farnese.

    Shopping is of course never far away and the simply heavenly concept store Chez Dédé is near the hotel on the Via di Monserrato. Wonderful bags and my new favourite room spray Zenology – their tobacco and wood is sensuous, male and like being in an old library. This is part of an extraordinary range of great quality.

    Sad to leave the sunshine and so many great memories. Fortunately, Johnny’s Eye will be working in Florence in three weeks time.

    Ah, la dolc’eye’ vita.

  • A Night at the Palace

    • Styling
    • Travel

    The Kensington Palace Orangery is being given a huge facelift and as a result will be closed for the next two years. In its place is a wonderful tented pavilion which will not only be used as a restaurant and café during the day, but also as an entertaining space in the evening.

    Historic Royal Palaces, supported by a raft of suppliers, very generously hosted a spectacular dinner for 250 guests and I was honoured to be included in the list. I enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared by ‘By Word of Mouth’ of a Norfolk crab & apple starter, followed by perfectly cooked beef with Jerusalem artichokes.

    The flowers and decorations were by Simon Lycett with my favourite poppies arranged in oranges in the reception – this was a clever concept to work with the grove of orange trees he had created, under which we would enjoy a dessert buffet later in the evening.

    One of my favourite rental companies, Great Hire, continued the theme of orange with their fun mandarin leather chairs. Whilst Dom Lyons of Young Guns, arranged for award-winning star Tokio Myers to perform a superb cabaret – loved it.

    I feel sure this new venue overlooking the Palace’s sunken garden will be a great hit – I already have clients who are asking to book it. So pleased that Johnny’s Eye got to see it so early on.

  • Spring engagements

    • Styling
    • Travel
    • Weddings

    There is something so special about a spring engagement. The flowers are wonderful, with great boughs of shell pink blossom, pale magnolia, waxy white camellias, tiny muscari, paperwhites, eucharist lilies, the first ranunculus – all creating a scented backdrop against which a bride and groom can celebrate their future.

    This morning in London was sunny but still with the chill of March in the air. So armed with a steaming cup of coffee, I set off to the new Covent Garden Market to look at the flowers, which are available for my client’s engagement dinner in three weeks time. The party is small, two long tables each seating 22. Really just their close friends and immediate family, with a wonderful late spring wedding taking place in Florence at the beginning of May.

    The room in which they are holding the dinner overlooks their London garden – the walls are painted chalk white, with tall orangery windows.

    To create a contrast with the formal paved terrace outside, I am covering the long tables with runners of Pierre Frey’s Carriacou wallpaper. This is a riot of geometric colours on a dazzling white background. I am putting ranunculus in shades of tangerine, bright pink and deep purple into emerald green glass containers and these will be arranged down the table and interspersed with violet candles.

    My newest find is Charlotte Graham’s ‘Covetable’ range which includes lovely amethyst coloured water glasses – they are a sensible price and will look wonderful on the table. Dishwasher safe, they would make a fantastic wedding present.

    White French linen napkins, folded simply with the couple’s initials embroidered on them, will make the table contemporary. We have our linen embroidered by women in Africa. The charity which organises this is called Kisany – based in Brussels, they do wonders supporting at-risk women living in Rwanda, Kenya and Congo – the needlework is flawless.

    It’s good to start married life with a stock of beautiful linen. I always suggest going to Reeds for the bedlinen that couples put on their wedding list.

    Dinner is going to be delicious, with a first course of pan-roasted scallops and lobster tails served with sauces based on crushed wasabi and red pepper. Followed by seared highland beef, Parmentier potatoes, tender stems of broccoli and tiny heritage carrots. With this, we are serving Maille’s delicious Morel Mushroom and Chablis White Wine Mustard.

    A glow in the dark jelly inspired by Bompas and Parr, which we are serving with frozen clementines – fresh, fun and young.

    Planning the wedding in May has been and continues to be so enjoyable – I have lots to tell you about it in Johnny’s Eye.

  • Dreaming and travelling

    • Parties
    • Styling
    • Travel

    A life spent dreaming and travelling has given me access to some of the most extraordinary places, houses and people.

    I think it’s time for me to share a few of my ideas and inspirations.

    It’s only the middle of February and already I have eaten tempura in Tokyo, watched snow monkeys playing in the frost covered trees of northern Japan, flown to Nice and Monaco twice – (going for a third time next week) – been to the Vatican where I am planning a very special lunch and dinner and am packing my Globe-Trotter cases to fly to Vegas, Utah and L.A. in ten days time, to organise a stunning weekend party in the desert.

    Seems enough air miles for six weeks!

    Will find so many great new suppliers and will share these and my visions of the future and also the some of my extraordinary heritage – I hope you enjoy reading Johnny’s Eye.