I've done it! I survived my yoga session on Saturday and I finally got round to booking my flight to distant lands where the sun shines everyday and the temperature is never below 25 °C. At the moment my body hurts like crazy and my bank is on the verge of calling on the IMF AND the European Union to bail me out. But hey ho .... I'm going away on holiday (imagine me dancing a wee online jig)!
I'm off in a couple of weeks but until then a girl has to keep her spirits up and what better way than a long overdue visit to the new Shoe Galleries at Selfridges? 35,000 sq ft, 150 brands, 4,000 pairs on display and 55,000 pairs in stock at any one point - that's a lot of shoe stats. It was intense shoe pleasure - I wriggled my toes in Louboutins, shimmied around in Choos, glided around in Ginas and I even dared to ignore the eagle eyes of the old bats down at Chanel and copped a feel or two of their goods before rushing out (just in case they saw through me and called security!). High on heels (flats and everything in between) we headed for the one section of the shoe area we could possibly afford - Aubaine.
Stuffed to the brim with ladies who shop and men who wait for ladies who shop, Aubaine's limited space was packed. To maximise every inch, tables were jammed together. Customers tried hard to ignore conversations around them and very likely failed. Well, I did ... I became quite fascinated with the stories the 2 girls from New York (very much Londoners for the moment, apparently) next to us were regaling each other with. They too in turn looked suitably horrified the moment after I suddenly exclaimed to my friend, "Oh, have I told you about the guy who's stalking me?". The stalker story is very much true but that's for another time.
My shoe fanatic-in-arms suggested we share a portion of salt and chili squid, unsurprising since she has a bit of a thing for deep fried squid. The dish was actually rather lovely. The squid was pipping hot, the batter was light and crisp and the whole dish was seasoned well. This in the middle of the shoe department in one of the city's most exclusive departmental stores. I'm really quite impressed. They did, however, let themselves down on the lime aioli. Under seasoned and just a tad bit lame.
This was what we came for - cake. Well, I did anyway and ended up ordering their over sized strawberry macaron. Topped with a light handed sprinkle of poppy seeds, the macaron was fine. Not particularly exciting but good. Crisp, light shell with a jammy centre.
My companion chose the raspberry tartlet - yes, raspberries in the middle of January...imagine! Little sweet/tart nuggets sitting on crème patisserie and a crisp, buttery pastry. Served with a squiggle of raspberry coulis. She seemed incredibly happy with it and my little bite tasted just fine.
So what do I now know about Aubain that I didn't know before the weekend?
I now know that Aubaine does a heavy cup of skinny latte, the staff don't know their white wine glasses from their red and the food served is actually rather scrummy, albeit on the steep side. I also know that the service is pretty decent but with slight dips here and there ... like the guy who kept insisting on arranging piles of forks in strict military precision on the service counter right next to our table ... imagine .... *clink, clink, clink, clink, clink ....*
Selfridges, 2nd Floor - 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB