June 28 2011
Simon de Burton
My personal style signifiers are undoubtedly my wristwatches. A watch is simply the most important thing that I wear, and I am particularly fond of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. I first bought one more than 20 years ago and now have several, my favourite being the quantième perpétuel in stainless steel. From £42,280; www.audemarspiguet.com.
A recent “find” is not an object, but a new passion – flying a light aircraft. I would never have considered it, but a friend who is a professional pilot suggested that I had a lesson. I discovered that one sees the world in a completely different way from these small planes. They are much slower and lower than a jet and enable you to see things from a new perspective.
The books on my bedside table are always business-orientated non-fiction; I am not a fan of novels. Currently, I am reading Great People Decisions by Claudio Fernández Aráoz because I believe that human resources are a company’s main asset, and this is what the book is about.
The last thing I bought and loved was my new car, a Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid, which has both a petrol engine and an electric motor, making it better for the environment and more economical. If you want to drive gently it is efficient, but when you want excitement you can push the sport button and it really goes. I had no idea it would be so much fun. From £60,506; www.porsche.com.
The thing I’m eyeing next is a new boat. I currently have a 60ft high-performance yacht made by Cantieri di Baia, which offers a great combination of speed and handling but the interior is a little basic, so I’m looking for something better fitted. I adore the sea and spend much of my free time with my family on the boat in San Remo, the South of France or on the Costa Smeralda. www.baiayacht.it.
An unforgettable place I have travelled to in the past year is the Ural Mountains in Russia. I travel a great deal for business, and one day last winter some customers took me to their dacha near a frozen lake. We rose very early and rode on snowmobiles for four hours, stopping at 10am to drink warming vodka before returning to the house for a late lunch. It was incredibly beautiful and exhilarating.
The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a piece of fossilised wood that I found in China. It is millions of years old and about 50cm high. I thought it would be a good idea to take it home and use it as a side table – it’s probably the oldest table in Italy.
The last meal that truly impressed me was at Officina Cucina, a restaurant in Brescia set up by a young chef called Andrea Mainardi. It’s in the attic of an old building and comprises a single, small room with a kitchen in the corner, which seats a maximum of 10 people. You tell Andrea the sort of meal you would like to eat in advance, then he buys the relevant ingredients and creates something wonderful with them. The most extraordinary part is the ice cream, which is made entirely by hand in front of the diners using liquid nitrogen. Via San Zeno 119, 25124 Brescia (+39030-225 689; www.officinacucina.com).
The last music I bought was the CD of the latest Festival di San Remo, an annual music competition which has been running since 1951. There are categories for young and old – it has been the starting point for many famous Italian singers, including Andrea Bocelli and Eros Ramazzotti. www.sanremo.rai.it.
In my fridge you will always find ice cream and not a great deal else, as my wife likes to buy fresh food every day. But we are lucky to live in Italy where the ice cream is the best, and there is a particularly good shop in Brescia called Bedussi where all the ice cream is made on the premises and there is a huge range of flavours. I look at them all, but I always leave with either vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. Gelateria e Pasticceria Bedussi, Via Ducco Marcantonio 11, 25123 Brescia (+39030-393 079; www.bedussi.it).
If I were not doing what I do, I would love to have followed my boyhood dream of being a patisserie chef. I adore puddings and sweet foods, and would like to be able to create all sorts of wonderful treats. Unfortunately, I can’t even bake a cake.