Simms' city: Art with Château Mouton Rothschild and a serious pub quiz

Our diarist Freya Simms offers her fortnightly reflections on her favourite London haunts…

The Goedhuis brothers, Château Mouton Rothschild and Xu Lei

Michael and Jonny Goedhuis

The month began with a fascinating meeting at Michael Goedhuis’s glorious Cadogan Square apartment. Surrounded by an impressive selection of contemporary Chinese ink paintings and antique bronzes, I met with Michael and his brother Johnny to learn about the growing Chinese interest in art and wine that has sparked their most recent project with Château Mouton Rothschild.

Château Mouton Rothschild


With the Chinese’s love of fine Bordeaux well documented, Chinese art specialist Micheal was called upon by the Rothschild estate to help orchestrate a very special new label for the 2008 Château Mouton Rothschild vintage. The result? Sketches by the fabulous Chinese ink artist Xu Lei now adorn the bottles. And just when you thought the stuff couldn’t get any better.

Also to watch out for is an exhibition of Chinese ink paintings coming this June at the Saatchi Gallery, Xu Lei’s work will be exhibited.

The Antiques Trade Gazette’s annual pub quiz

My next appointment was to hot foot it down to The Antiques Trade Gazette’s annual pub quiz at the Texan Embassy in Trafalgar Square. Awash with American beer and Tex-Mex specials, the primary function for this soirée is to raise as much money for charity as possible, but over the years it’s also evolved into a highly competitive sport where a host of specialisms go head to head - including an armour specialist pitching his wits against a rare teddy bear dealer!

This year Muse was invited to get a table together. Armed with Claire and other Muse colleagues we did just that. Alas, I’m afraid I can’t claim that we shined with academic brilliance, but being, as we are, at the cheekier end of the spectrum, we did go home with a gong, claiming a prize of bubbly for our input in the caption competition.

Pips Dish and Farm Direct

If you’ve been scratching your head recently trying to organise something a bit different for a night out, then I recommend booking yourself into Pips Dish, a pop-up loft barn in Islington. My great friend and business partner Narda Shirley decided to celebrate her birthday there. 

Housed in a disused Citroën garage, Pip (Philip Dundas), cook and author of Cooking without recipes has set up the quintessential pop-up eatery. We were invited to sit on hay bales set around tables dressed in French bistro red and white tablecloths and artfully dripping candles, while nearby an old record player cracked out some top vinyl tunes.

Farm Direct

Also in the barn is a farm shop run by Farm Direct, a local seasonal food delivery service, meaning the food Pip uses couldn’t be fresher. We were treated to a veritable feast, including a salad with monk’s fish liver – the foie gras of the sea no less – succulent venison, and a smorgasbord of British cheeses.

Burlington Arcade

Burlington Arcade

For those of you lucky enough to have an hour or two to spare, then may I also recommend an enlightening snapshot of 200 years of London history in luxurious retail heaven? By that I mean a tour of Burlington Arcade with beadle and raconteur Mark Lord.

Mark regaled the Muse team with amazing stories and facts from everything and everyone - including Napoleonic soldiers, Lady Cavendish’s personal shopping needs, George Eliot’s illicit liaisons and why Sir Paul McCartney was the only person allowed to whistle in the arcade.

High Road House, the Londsdale and E&O

High Road House in Chiswick is the West London arm of the Soho House and is handily located near me and is a great place to catch up with mates over one of their uplifting espresso martinis.  I had one of my oldest friends in tow, Midge - who was over from Mallorca for a man-trouble free weekend of frivolities in the big smoke. Next stop was Notting Hill’s E&O for mouth watering chilli salt squid, tiger prawn lime and salt tempura, and sirloin Szechuan pepper. Oh and a very innocent, but healthy dose, of flirting in the bar area!

A group of elegantly dressed, and rather spirited men had been hiding from the snow since lunch time! I then risked life and limb on my newly acquired chocolate brown leather and suede high heeled  boots - (they really are gorgeous) - as we bravely sallied forth in the snowstorm and slid our way towards the Lonsdale for a nightcap.

Freya Simms is managing director of Gong Muse a Strategic Communications agency for the art and luxury markets and winner of PRCA Agency Campaign of the year 2011.

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