Martini of the Week 4: Ambassador Bar, Swissôtel, Ankara

Triple P has been in Turkey this week and although he has visited Ankara many times he has not stayed in the Swissôtel before as he usually stays in either the Sheraton or the Hilton.

The Swissôtel is comparatively new and opened in April 2006. It is a perfectly pleasant business hotel but has no real distinct character.  The Ambassador bar is rather good, apart from the fact it had an enormous projection TV showing football which certainly isn't what Triple P wants in a bar.  TVs in bars should be banned!  However, we managed to position ourselves in such a way that it was invisible behind a number of large pillars. 

At night, the lighting is nicely subdued and the service was excellent.  Triple P remembers waiting more than twenty minutes to get served in the Sheraton Ankara once.  The lovely waitress (goodness, there are some beautiful women in Turkey!) was over very swiftly and we ordered a Vodka Martini.  When it came it was rather disappointing.  The glass hadn't been chilled and there was lemon peel in it rather than an olive.  If Triple P is feeling particularly louche he may go for a twist of lime but never lemon.  We think that lemon is an abomination in drinks; it just makes the contents of the glass taste like it has been inadequately rinsed after being washed so that you can still taste the washing up liquid.  It was, however, reasonably strong; unlike the Martinis Triple P has had in the Gulf, for example, which often taste mainly of vermouth.

Altogether then it gets 5/10.
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Christina Hendricks looking skinny in Playboy in 1999

Playboy recently released a couple of pictures of Mad Men's Christina Hendricks from a 1999 editorial shoot about drinks.  Hendricks' (on the right in both pictures) face is instantly recognisable but the question is where is her famous bust? 

It seeems that the claims that she is all natural may not be true as, although she claims she has put on weight on her bust, waist (a 32" waist has been claimed) and hips it seems odd that she hasn't on her neck or arms which all look suspiciously skinny.

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Big Breakfast of the Week: 3 Monarch Restaurant, Hotel Zaza, Houston

We have already examined the Martinis at the Hotel Zaza in Houston but now lets examine their breakfast! 

Triple P had arrived at the hotel at an unearthly 6.30 am having taken an overnight flight from Bogota.  Amazingly the hotel let us check in straight away so we were able to have a rest before descending to the Monarch Restaurant for a leisurely breakfast some hours later.

The terrace from the main restaurant

The restaurant itself doubles as a bar in the evening but has a nice terrace where you can sit outside but under cover.  One thing that was instantly in its favour was that there was no buffet, everything was a la carte. They had the usual porridge (or oatmeal as Americans call it), tropical fruit, yoghurt etc.  On the cooked side you could have had Eggs Benedict, omelette, corned beef hash, waffles, steak and eggs (very Mission Control, that), a hot sandwich, pancakes or tacos.  Triple P had the two eggs, any style with bacon or sausage (actually we had both) and potatoes which was priced at $12 (although we expect they added a supplement).

Accomapnying this we had a (very good indeed) pot of tea which, we think we are right in saying, was actually made with leaves (they had a good range) for $4 and a red grapefruit juice which was also $4.

Overall it was...OK.  We don't think that potatoes should really be served with a cooked breakfast and we are not sure about peppers (and especially asparagus!) either.  We had a bit of local colour with an accompanying dish of chilli sauce which we didn't touch.  The bacon was the usual fatty, brittle stuff that North Americans seem to think is edible (rather than it being used to cover a turkey when cooking which is all it is good for).

I think that overall it only gets a 6/10 (and that is mainly for the tea).
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Martini of the Week 3: Archduke Wine Bar, London

Agent Triple P has been visiting the Archduke (built under the arches of Hungerford railway bridge) wine bar near the Festival Hall in London since 1983, when he was first taken there by his then girlfriend V.  Quite a few other young and not so young ladies have also also passed through its large glass doors with Triple P over what is, worryingly, now nearly three decades.

Agent Triple P was there last week celebrating his birthday with Agent DVD and L who kindly bought him dinner.  As we got there a bit early we decided to sneak in a quick Martini which was served by the quite lovely C.  The waiting staff at the Archduke these days (it has been under new owneship for the last eighteen months) is variable but C was splendid: efficient, friendly and very pretty!

Triple P and Agent DVD's favourite table is on the right!

Triple P was happily sat upstairs but not, that evening, in his and Agent DVD's favourite spot overlooking the ground floor (great for girlie spotting).

The lovely C informed us that the Archduke Martinis are always made using Absolut vodka and ours was very good indeed.  It suffered from having the now de rigeur three olives and the glass wasn't quite cold enough but otherwise it was excellent.  We always find that if a Martini is served by a pretty girl it tastes better anyway!

Absolut, is from Åhus in southern Sweden and, therefore fulfills Triple P's Baltic origin vodka criteria.  It has been produced there since 1879 which gives it the heritage that these made up premium brands like Grey Goose just don't have.  However, it wasn't launched onto the global market for another century.  It's not exactly exclusive, however, with nearly 100 million litres a year being produced.  Until 2008 it was owned by the Swedish government owned V&S Absolut Spirits but was sold to the French pernod Ricard company.

Still it made an  excellent birthday martini.

We'd give it a 7/10.
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Not a common sight

Someone (not for the first time) observed yesterday that Triple P "must be happy" as he was whistling.  This is an odd assertion.  Triple P whistles because we are recalling a tune.  Our mental state has nothing to do with it.

Triple P has always whistled tunes, a habit he picked up from his mother.  Even now we sometimes comes across a piece of music we recognise as a tune Triple P's mother used to whistle years ago.  However, Triple P, as we started to think about it, realised that we hardly ever hear anyone else whistling a tune.  This is particular true of girls although this may be partly explained by the fact that there used to be an old wives tale in England that "a whistling woman never marries".

In fact, people have intimated to Triple P that whistling is a lost habit which was much more common fifty years ago.  Mike Oldfield once said that he composes much of his musc whilst walking and whistling, which may explain the strong melodic lines in much of his music; you would be hard pushed to whistle Harrison Birtwistle (!). 

The apotheosis of musical whistling, as far as Triple P is concerned has to be Roger Whittaker who had a TV show which Triple P remembers from when he was a child.  We still don't know quite how he produced the sounds he did in his single Mexican Whistler!
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Black and White Babe of the Week 27: Claudia Koll

At the suggestion of B we recently watched the Tinto Brass film Cosi fan Tutte (1992) or,  All Ladies Do It as  Triple P's (uncut) US version calls it. 

It is the usual Brass mixture of beautiful girls (invariably photographed naked from behind) , abstracted sets and soft core sex but this one features the luminescent Claudia Koll who makes this otherwise rather dreadful film more than watchable.

The plot, what there is of it, seems to focus on Koll's character's quest to find a man who will have anal sex with her. 

This enables Brass to include lots of shots of  Koll's quite exceptionally fine posterior and, indeed her anus.  We cannot imagine why B thought such a subject would be of interest to us!

Koll was born Claudia Colacione in Rome in 1965 and made her first film in 1989.  She made a number of films over the next decade but in 2000 became a staunch Catholic, having had a Damascene revelation, as she had abandoned her early upbringing in the church. 

She now spends her time talking about her conversion and promoting religion, having renounced her previous life.

At least we have this fine set of studies, from 1992, to remember her past loveliness.

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Calendar Girl January 2011: Rachel Stevens

Rachel in her calendar pose

Amazingly, considering she is one of Triple P's favourites, we have not featured Rachel Stevens in this blog at all, except in passing.  This frightful ommission can now be put right as she is January's calendar girl.

Rachel, who is now 32, was born in Southgate, London to a Jewish family At the age of 15 she beat 5,000 other competitors to win a modelling competition for Just 17 magazine. 

She went on to study fashion at the London College of Fashion but her big break came when. at the age of twenty, she was asked to join producer Simon Fuller's new manufactured pop group S Club 7. 

She's only 5'3" tall.  Nicely portable, in fact.

This was something he decided to put together after being sacked by the Spice Girls and over 10,000 people auditioned for the group. 

Rachel, who had started to sing following her short-lived fashion career, had already been spotted by some of Fuller's producers and she was the only member of the final group who didn't have to audition.

S Club 7 were a nineties re-jigging of The Monkees in that they featured in a comedy children's drama playing versions of themselves as they attepted to become stars in the US (and later Spain) in four TV series (and a particularly dreadful feature film (Seeing Double (2003)) made between 1999 and 2002.

Easily passes the Triple P "does she look good in a vest?" test

The group broke up only weeks after their film premiered, amidst rumours of Fuller not paying the members their due (similar to the rumnours surrounding him over the Spice Girls split) but he had already started another manufactured group, S Club Juniors. as a back up.

Rachel obviously had no problem with Fuller, as she re-signed with him as a solo act in 2003 producing two albums; the reasonably successful Funky Dory and then Come and Get It. 

The latter made very little impact on the charts but was enormously well received by the critics.  Indeed, The Guardian, listed it as one of their 1,000 albums you should listen to before you die.  It is certainly a catchy slice of electro pop.

Rachel's failure to launch a huge career on the back of S Club 7 is puzzling at first.  She was a member of a very popular group, she had a fantastic team of producers and writers behind her (the creative team on Come and Get It looks like a who's who of naughties UK pop success) and she made regular appearances in the likes of FHM. 

Perhaps that was it.  Her pop audience didn't want to see her prancing about in her underwear and her lingerie fans didn't want to listen to her music. 

Sadly, too, she always seemed rather reserved and her personality never came across in her singing.  She was, as the Guardian itself suggested, despite her modelling, unable to be convincingly sexy.

Too wholesome to be sexy?

She still continues to pose for magazines and last year said that she would continue to try and become the FHM sexiest woman in the world.  She has come close several times but has never won.

Even this wasn't enough

She tried to relaunch her career in Strictly Come Dancing in 2008 where she recorded the best scores ever seen in the programme but, again, failed to win on the public vote.

She gave birth to her first child this November so will no doubt have more than enough to do to keep her occupied for the next few years.  In the meantime we remember her in all her rather exotic looking loveliness.

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Playboy Energy Drink?

Kelly launches the Playboy Energy Drink in London on November 18th last year.

Agent Triple P was wandering through the City on Friday and saw a bus carrying an advertisement for Playboy Energy Drink.  We had never heard of such a thing but, apparently, it is available in twenty countries and was launched in the UK two months ago (using Kelly Brook, naturally).

The lovely Kelly has also posed tastefully on a motorcycle (a Harley-Davidson soft tail if we are not mistaken - our particular friend S in Vancouver has one) to advertise this product.  Kelly also features on the UK drink's website which features some particularly disgusting sounding cocktail recipes.

Agent Triple P does not understand the purpose of energy drinks.  Why would anyone want to pay a premium price for a sugary drink full of sugar and stimulants?  Why not just have a coffee with sugar in it?  Why does anyone need a drink at all?  If you need a glucose boost have a chocolate bar.  It will still bring you crashing down shortly afterwards as your body floods your system with insulin.

Apparently, the Playboy concoction (which has all sorts of nonsensical ingredients like Ginseng Root, Guarana extract and Damiana leaf in it, to justify the high price) tastes like...well a sugary, orange fizzy drink.

Sorry Kelly, you can't look sophisticated if you're holding a can

"This product provides consumers with a taste of the exhilaration that has long been associated with the Playboy lifestyle". 

Or so says Sarah Haney, senior vice president, global licensing, Playboy Enterprises, Inc.  I'm sorry but sophisticated drinkers do not  drink any sort of carbonated drinks other than water, full stop.  Sugary, carbonated drinks are for children.

Imagine how much one this size would cost. That's the drink, by the way.

On top of this it's priced at £1.20 for 250ml.  So, about the same as a cheap bottle of wine.  San Pellegrino, Agent Triple P's favourite carbonated water, is only 33p per 250ml and that's an expensive mineral water. 

Now while we are pleased to see Kelly continuing to pick up cheques from Playboy this really sums up what someone once called the worst managed top brand in history.  You have an iconic logo, global recognition of your name and yet you continue to plough investment into down market tat.  The inference, presumably, is that if you drink the drink it will enable you to perform like Mr Hefner and bag a Kelly (not that we are saying he has but she has certainly impressed someone at Playboy).  But surely even the sort of stupid young people who, presumably, drink these drinks don't think that.  Do they?

The key with building a premium brand is to only associate it with premium products not just stick your label on anything that anyone offers you.  What next?  Playboy pizza, Playboy tortilla chips?  Utter nonsense!  The sad fact of the matter is that, considering it used to be a magazine that did have an up market position and a defined view of what was sophisticated (albeit fifty years ago), we suspect that no-one at Playboy would recognise "sophisticated" if it jumped out of a cake at them
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Calendar Girl December: Joanna Page

Joanna in her calendar pose

Time to just dash off our last calendar girl of 2010, one Joanna Page, a Welsh actress.

Joanna in Love Actually.  We have no idea what the rationale for this scene is!

Born in 1978, she is best known for appearing in the film, Love Actually (2003) and a sitcom called Gavin and Stacey (she plays Stacey), neither of which we have seen.

Her shoot for the December 2009 issue of FHM seems to be her only glamour pictorial so it may just be a one-off to raise her profile.

Right, now we can move ahead to actually have our January calendar girl in January!
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Calendar Girl November: Zöe Salmon

Zöe's calendar pose

Agent Triple P is determined to keep up to date with his calendar girls this year so that means quickly despatching the last two from 2010 in  short sucession.

Sexing up a venerable BBC institution?  Surely some mistake!

Firstly, November's lady was former Blue Peter presenter Zöe Salmon.  Blue Peter is a British TV children's magazine programme and is famously the longest running children's TV show in the world having been first broadcast in 1958.. 

When Triple P was young the lady presenters were not exactly attractive but latterly this has changed and for a time Blue Peter featured the delectable duo of Zöe and another Triple P favourite, Konnie Huq,  who Triple P literally ran into once in Boots in Heathrow Airport.  

Konnie and Zöe: Many more fathers started tuning into Blue Peter

Zöe first appeared on the show in December 2004 and left in June 2008.  As a former beauty queen she was a controversial choice and the BBC was accused of "sexing up" the show. 

Some critics felt that she was not particularly comfortable around children and shouldn't have been selected for the show; one of the top jobs on British TV. It later also turned out that the position had only been advertised in Northern Ireland and Scotland to ensure a suitably regional candidate.  She ran into more trouble when she suggested putting the Red Hand of Ulster, a Northern Irish protestant, Loyalist symbol, on a British Airways plane as a symbol of Britishness.

Zöe wing walking

She soon became the series "action girl" doing activities such as wing walking for the show.  A video of her trying out cold water swimming for the show became a massive hit on YouTube as she chose to wear a skimpy, low-cut bikini rather than a sensible one piece suit.

Zöe was born in the seaside town of Bangor, Northern Ireland, which Triple P visited once and found to be a a rather pleasant resort.  She got a law degree at Queen's University, Belfast and qualified as a solicitor.  She became Miss Northern Ireland in 1999.

Zöe in Dancing on Ice

She has had a number of TV jobs since leaving Blue Peter but has not achieved the profile of her co-presenter Konnie Huq.  In 2008 she came fifth in celebrity reality TV competition Dancing on Ice and certainly looked very cute as a skater.

Easily passes the Agent Triple P "dcoes she look good in a vest?" test

Zöe has had a couple of cameo roles in films including St Trinian's (2006) and, more susprisingly, Get Him to the Greek (2010).

Childrens' entertainers, once they break away from the rigid rules of children's TV, often like to prove that they are able to function in the adult world so both she and Konnie Huq posed for a memorable issue of FHM in  May 2009.  

She has also been photographed out and about wearing a very daring dress which barely covered her assets.

Zoe, we have to say, easily trumped Konnie in FHM, showing off her beauty queen, 5' 7" tall figure.  In 2009 she placed a very creditable 20th on the FHM 100 sexiest women list.

Zöe is thirty one this Friday so we wish her a very happy birthday!

She makes even sensible swimwear look good!
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