On The Agenda: We've never been so excited about bugs – or Roman charioteering, for that matter
Sunday 13 September 2009
Food & Drink
In a bid to join the top table of eateries in London, upscale hotel The Lanesborough has scored a coup in its relaunched restaurant, Apsleys, by bagging three-star Michelin chef Heinz Beck (whose La Pergola restaurant in Rome is regarded by some critics as the city's best) as its head chef. Dishes in the Mediterranean-themed dining-room range from the sublime (the magnificently rich fillet of beef) and the divine (the fabulously smooth cheesecake) to the underwhelming (the sea bass cannolo lacked flavour). While it may not quite scale the heights in the consistency stakes, it's early days, and we couldn't help but be impressed by the exceptional service. www.lanesborough.com
To celebrate 40 years of clothing the masses in their blue twill, Gap is launching a concept store on Carnaby Street that will be open for 19 days, 69 hours – in homage to the year in which it started production. With limited-edition cuts, bespoke pieces from designers Pierre Hardy and Albertus Swanepoel and the launch of musician Pharrell Williams' new Bionic line, it's the place to update your blue jeans. Look out also for an exhibition of sketches by hip Parisienne blogger Garance Doré, whose ethereal illustrations also front a line of T-shirts for the brand. www.gap1969.com
Metamorphosing the museum experience is London's Natural History Museum, with its impressive new £78m wing, the Darwin Centre. Despite housing a collection of 20 million insect and plant specimens (such as the megascolia procer wasp), what you won't find is row upon row of preserved organisms with dully written explanations; here it's the scientists who are the exhibits. A tour of an eight-storey "cocoon" allows visitors to watch – and speak to – some of the 350 experts at work in the centre, via a series of viewing decks, while a plethora of interactive installations (such as the catch-and-identify a mosquito exhibit) illuminate how and why this huge collection is so important. Opens on Tuesday, free entry, www.nhm.ac.uk
A happy ending to an Orwellian tale: Amazon is offering free books or vouchers to owners of its Kindle e-book readers who had their electronic versions of 1984 and Animal Farm by the great George deleted in July. At the time, Amazon blamed a rights issue and issued refunds to buyers – but CEO Jeff Bezos called the initial move to delete the books "stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles". Now, customers can get their $10 originals back, along with a $30 voucher. It almost makes the Kindle seem worth its $300 price tag.
You know you're in for an audio-visual extravaganza when the man behind the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics (Mark Fisher) and the special effects co-ordinator for the past 10 Bond films (Chris Corbould) team up for a £6m stage version of the sword-and-sandals epic, Ben Hur. Opening at the 02 on Tuesday, the spectacle comes complete with gladiatorial combat, sea battles and a live chariot race. www.the02.co.uk
Who'd have thought that "the Face of '66" – Twiggy – would still be going strong? To celebrate her 60th birthday next weekend, the National Portrait Gallery is displaying photographs of the original superwaif, taken by some of the world's best-known photographers, including Cecil Beaton. From Saturday, www.npg.org.uk
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