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Vinothec Compass – golfing and wine -ing on the Greenwich Peninsula

Aug 19, 15 Vinothec Compass – golfing and wine -ing on the Greenwich Peninsula

Posted by in All

I’ve just discovered a place that combines 2 of my passions, wine and golf! I don’t get out on the course as much as I’d like to but I do enjoy the game even if my handicap is like, a 1000 (just kidding but not by much). Vinothec Compass is a new venture that’s just opened in North Greenwich. A parnership between Arnaud Compass and Keith Lyons, the driving range/restaurant/bar is bound to be a big hit! I wish they would open one up closer to Clapham (hint, hint). We started off the evening by sipping on Pol Roger 2004 paired with chorizo and shrimp skewers whilst we swung away on the driving range. We were hosted by one of their golf pros, Gary. I have to say, in just the few swings I took, Gary helped me to correct my slice to the left, can’t wait to try it again. There are 60 bays on two tiers and you get to swing your club into the twitlight of Canary Wharf as a backdrop. The standard is 120 balls which will you back £12 (£10 off-peak) or 60 for £6. For more info. including opening times click here Afterwards, we were invited indoors to partake of small plates paired with a selection of wines on offer at Vinothec Compass. The bar also doubles as a shop so you can take the wines home with you if so desired. We had a host of wines from not the usual suspects. Starting off with a Bulgarian Chardonnay, the Château Burgozone 2012, was quite good and had a nice citrus spritz to it. It was lovely with the tapas of baby squid, tomato and coriander. The head chef of Vinothec is Catalan, Jordi Rovira Segovia and you can see his roots reflected in the dishes. As well as Bulgaria, we had a Morrocan rose,  the Volubilia 2013 Mourvèdre, Tempranillo, Vin Gris – very pale in colour but bursting with strawberry flavours and refreshingly dry. I love the fact that Vinotech has taken the...

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Cocktail Club at The Royal Horseguards Hotel

Aug 12, 15 Cocktail Club at The Royal Horseguards Hotel

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The mixologists at the Royal Horseguards Hotel like to mix up a new cocktail every month but this month they’ve outdone themselves with the launch of The Cocktail Chapter. They’ve developed 4 new cocktails for the month of August, The Aperol Sorbet Spritz, Berry Crush, Gin & Jam and the Inverness Cocktail.  The Cocktail Chapter is a new club that the hotel is launching from October. Food & Beverage Manager, Shudhanshu Kaushak explained to us that the hotel will be offering cocktail masterclasses every month. The idea behind the club is to ‘make cocktails easy’ , to not only show how to make great cocktails but also to use ingredients that are common in the house. To wit, the Gin & Jam is made with house made strawberry jam (although that’s not to say you can’t use Bonne Maman’s jam) and Portobello Gin. A tasty combination of gin and jam topped off with soda, it wasn’t too sweet or too bitter. I’m a fan of gin anyway but this was utterly delicious. That was quickly followed by the Berry Crush, a mix of tequila (!) and elderflower infused vodka with lots of fresh crushed blackberries. The elderflower vodka is also made in-house, macerating for 24 hours before it’s ready. Despite the addition of tequila, it worked really well, so refreshing and morish. There was also a dash of lime and soda water to finish it off. Those were deceptively easy to drink. The Aperol Sorbet Spritzer was homemade orange/Aperol sorbet topped with prosecco. I was a bit dubious because I’m not a huge fan of Aperol but this was a tasty combination, not too sweet nor too bitter, just heaven! I also liked the fact that this was a cocktail you could eat as well as drink. Lastly we finished with the Inverness, so named because apparently when it was first created, one of the mixologists commented it reminded him of Inverness. I’ve never been so I wouldn’t know but this mix of 2 different...

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Touraine and Rose d’Anjou – easy drinkers for the summer

Aug 11, 15 Touraine and Rose d’Anjou – easy drinkers for the summer

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I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Loire Valley a few times and the wines never fail to surprise me. I often forget what wonderful easy drinking wines they are and how they pair so well with food due to their diverse flavour profiles. Recently, I attended a dinner with Square Meal at Portland Restaurant in Marylebone. The Portland serve seasonal produce and the dinner was full of fresh spring greens and veggies as well as a succulent pork belly but more on that in a minute. First the wines. We were served a selection of 3 rosés and 2 Touraine wines and one red Touraine wine. Touraine is made with sauvignon blanc and the rosés were mostly Grolleau, which is common in the Loire Valley. Touraine wines are a great choice for spring and summer as they are light and refreshing. We started with the Dom. Bellevue 2014 as an aperitif, very refreshing and crisp way to start the evening. The plan was to mix up the evening a bit and so we then moved onto a Rosé d’Anjou. These wines are off dry but when served with a fatty dish such as the pork rillettes that we scarfed down, they are perfect. Rosés are also great with dessert and the almond pithivier with raspberry jam was a great match, the red fruits in the wine pairing nicely with the strawberry jam. I also like the fact that the rosés are so light, unlike proper dessert wines, which although I love, can be a bit much after a heavy meal. We had the La Jaglerie  Rosé d’Anjou with dessert. As the Portland emphasises fresh and local produce, the main of old spot pig belly was excellent with the Red Touraine Les Marcottes Dom de Pierre 2012. Although the Loire is not known for it’s red wines, they do make vibrant red wines with loads of acidity and very fresh red and black fruit flavours. An excellent wine to cut through the fatty goodness...

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Getting to Know Club D&D

Aug 06, 15 Getting to Know Club D&D

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The D&D group have set up a special club for its most loyal customers. Called the Club D&D it’s open to everyone, but once a guest has been to a D&D restaurant three times, they become a Club Member and receive extra special treatment when visiting the restaurants, as well as personalised communications, exclusive invitations and the priority to book special events before others. Once a D&D restaurant has been visited ten times or more, you will become a Friend of D&D and subsequently part of the super club. Upon reaching the Magic 10, you can enjoy being invited to high end dinners, gain access to some once in a lifetime trips plus tickets and invites to parties that might pop up quite literally anywhere around the world. In addition to this, you will enjoy an super special experience in the restaurants as well as being given a personal Friends of D&D card with dedicated booking line. I was invited along to one of these exclusive events earlier this summer and it was definitely a dinner to remember. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Chablis for the Summertime!

Jul 29, 15 Chablis for the Summertime!

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Chablis, it’s what’s for summer. Recently I was reminded just how good Chablis is. Oh, sure you have your new world oaked chardonnays and your unoaked chardonnays but nothing beats the Old World like a properly balanced Chablis; the fine balancing act between acidity, fruit and oak. What makes Chablis, which is always made from Chardonnay special, is that it has its roots in a seam of 155m year old fossilised oyster shells – the same ground that exists in the town of Kimmeridge, Dorset, and runs through parts of Champagne, the Loire valley and of course, Chablis. We had the chance to see how this wine pairs with food during a recent dinner at The Chancery. To make things confusing, Chablis has it’s own classifications, Petit Chablis, Chablis, Premier Cru and Grand Cru, a classification that is unique to Chablis only. We started off with canapes and a pure and intense  Dauvissat Petit Chablis 2012. Crisp and clean, it was delightful with the crab beignettes served alongside it. Petit Chablis is often looked down upon but in reality it makes a great aperitif. The next step up is Chablis. Chablis can be made from grapes anywhere in the appellation. I find Chablis to be a fabulous white wine, having weight to it but still being very fresh. I like the way it sits in my mouth before going on its merry way. The Garnier & Fils ‘Grains Dores’ 2012 is matured in expensive Austrian oak and has that lovely weightiness to it, paired with a creamy avocado and scallop dish it was a sensation. The other wine paired with it was a youthful 2014, made by Louis Moreau, the President of the Union des Grands Crus de Chablis. A zippy and fresher wine, there were hints of citrus on the nose and palate. We then moved onto  Chablis 1er Cru, which comes from precisely defined geographical areas. My favourite was the  Jean Marc Brocard’s Montée de Tonerre 2011, the vineyards are close to Chablis’ Grand Cru vineyards and...

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Tapas and Spanish wine at Bankside, the latest Camino is open

Jul 21, 15 Tapas and Spanish wine at Bankside, the latest Camino is open

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I was invited to visit the new Camino at Bankside recently and what a lovely evening it turned out to be. Although it was your typical English summer (read, cloudy and not that warm) we opted to sit outside to begin our tapas adventur The menu was created by Executive Chef Nacho del Campo. He hails from the Basque region so there are some definite influences from this part of Spain. We started off with chipiriones, which are one of my favourite tapas. I have to say these were fatantastic – light and cruncy but not greasy.  The bar has a good size selection of sherries and so we opted for a fino and a manzanilla to go with the chipirones. I love sherry and it’s such a great wine to pair with tapas. We also ordered a plate of jamon croquettas. I don’t know how they do it but at Camino they manage to make croquettas that don’t fall apart at the first bite and are awfully toothsome. I could have eaten the whole plate by myself but I saved room for the next plate. The restaurant has 3 distinct areas downstairs, a long bar to stand at, as they do in Spain, a jamon counter, where you can watch them carve up the jamon and a dining area which is decorated with Spanish tiles and features high counters and bar stools. For me, I found it to be very reminiscent of the more modern tapas bars in Barcelona. But, back to the jamon. The jamon they have is not just any old jamon. They feature D.O. Teruel and D.O. Guijuelo ham, aged 20 months and 24 months respectively. They also have a 32 month aged and and a 36 month aged jamon from the legendary producer, Cinco Jotas. The 36 month aged jamom is extremely intense, for me a bit too much but my dining companion loved it. I let her finish off the plate. I later found out that you can...

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Food Yard Friday at The Artworks Elephant

Jul 18, 15 Food Yard Friday at The Artworks Elephant

Posted by in All, Food and Wine

Last night I went to a great new food venue. Actually, it’s not a food venue more a food destination. It’s called The Artworks Elephant and it is a loose conglomeration of food entrepreneurs and artists. The Artworks itself is a box park made up of old shipping containers.  The food and drink on offer at The Artworks Elephant has been on the radar of South London foodies and locals but now they want to get the word out beyond Elephant.  The tenant list includes up-and-coming names such as Marcel & Sons, The Frenchie, Elephant Shack, Love Fresh Vietnamese and Black Acorn. There are 10 food and drink entrepreneurs in total. I was invited to join in on one of their Food Yard Friday events. The night started out with drinks and then we popped into Elephant Snack for lamb wraps. The ‘Shack specializes in organic flatbreads and burger buns. The food was delicious and was paired up with some great Portuguese wine, Altano made by the Symingtons. Catherine, one of the owners, fell in love with these wines. I tried all 3 they had on offer, the white was crisp and juicy, the red full of red fruit and the Reserva, rich and lush. But, I like Portuguese wines anyway!   Marcel & Sons is Mauritian food. It’s great to see different cuisines being featured. Mauritian food is a blend of Asian cuisines with a Mauritian twist. The Bol Renverse is a bowl of rice served upside down filled with chicken, shitake mushrooms, choi sum, Mauritian sausage and topped with a fried egg. Delicious. Our next stop was my favourite, the Iberico Burger. Made by Black Acorn, it had to be one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. It’s a blend of Iberico chorizo and ham minced with biodynamic, organic beef, topped with roasted peppers, crispy onion & homemade spicy sauce. I opted to have mine topped with Mature Cheddar cheese but other choices were Goat’s Cheese, Stilton and Good Old American Cheese....

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Win a Case of Bordeaux Blanc !

Jul 13, 15 Win a Case of Bordeaux Blanc !

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Everyone is familiar with the wines of Bordeaux and the big names, particularly the reds, at the upper echelons of the price spectrum made to be aged and savoured on special occasions, but much less so with white Bordeaux or Bordeaux Blanc. Affordable and mostly made for drinking now, these fresh, aromatic wines are ideal for everyday drinking, particularly now in the warm summer weather. Bordeaux Blanc comes in a variety of styles; single varietals, blends, oak aged and sweet, which tend to fall into two main categories; refreshing and fruity: made in vats to be drunk young, served cool, and ideal with fresh fish and seafood especially oysters or rich and full: older and/or oaked, can be drunk young or old, served a little warmer, and good with richer dishes such as a bouillabaisse or salmon en croute. This diversity, combined with their subtle fruit flavours, which tend to be a bit less intense than similar styles of wines from the New World, make them great and versatile food wines. There’s a good choice of Bordeaux Blanc to try on the high street, ranging in price from around £4.99-£20.00, and if you’d like to win a case to enjoy this summer, let me know the names of the three main white grape varieties that are found in Bordeaux Blanc before 20 July 2015. Leave your answer in the comments section or watch out for my tweets to enter @thewinesleuth Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Picnic inspired Afternoon Tea at the Four Seasons Park Lane

Jul 12, 15 Picnic inspired Afternoon Tea at the Four Seasons Park Lane

Posted by in All, Hotels and Spas

Warm scones served with a dollop of clotted cream and strawberry jam on top has to be my favourite part of a traditional English Afternoon Tea. Usually I’ll have two but at the Four Seasons recently, I was able to indulge in quiet a few as they serve mini scones for their afternoon tea. The mini scones were part of the new picnic-inspired tea for two on the terrace of the Amaranto restaurant in the Four Seasons Park Lane. Tea comes to the table in a wicker basket and comes complete with china, silverware and  vintage tins containing a range of sandwiches, cakes and scones designed with a British twist, evoking the warmest of British summer picnic feelings. To complete the classic affair, Head Pastry Chef Loic Carbonnet has created a tin of delightful treats with a classic British summer twist: Pimm’s mousse; rhubarb and custard ice cream lolly; pistachio and strawberry tartlet; chocolate and raspberry macaron; and a trifle made with seasonal fruit. The cream desserts were extremely light and fluffy, my favourite was the Pimms’s mousse, incredibly light and I’m sure there’s no way there could have been any calories in it at all! 😉 I loved everything and as well as the classic English Afternoon Tea we also sampled the Italian Tea, which had Italian inspired sandwiches and Italian pastries, including my favourite cannoli and these incredible doughnut pastries from Naples. Of course it wouldn’t be tea with, well Tea, and the Four Seasons will either match the tea to the savoury and sweet courses or let you choose your own. I chose the Silver Needle Chinese Tea, a delicate tea but still full of flavour. If you so desire, you can also add a glass of Bollinger NV or Bollinger Rose to your afternoon tea service. Champagne is extra but I always like to start off the afternoon with a glass of bubbles. Service as always was top knotch, anticipatory but not invasive or obsequious, they really make you feel more...

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Summertime drinking…Mirabeau Roses

Jul 03, 15 Summertime drinking…Mirabeau Roses

Posted by in All, France

Now that the weather is cooperating, more or less, and giving us lots of nice and sunny days, I’ve been breaking out the rosé wines. I recently received a few samples of the Mirabeau rosés and loved them. Mirabeau have an interesting back story, actually, they have the one we all have about chucking everything in and moving to the south of France but they actually did it. In 2009 Stephen Cronk quit the rat race and upped sticks with his wife and three children, leaving the suburbs of southwest London for the foothills of Provence. I met Stephen recently at the Taste of London and he had no regrets about leaving the rat race. Stephen did loads of research finding the best vineyards in Provence before setting up shop. They brought an impressive international winemaking team together led by Jo Ahearne MW. It’s one of the most accomplished teams in their field and they employ the most current winemaking techniques from around the world, while concentrating on building lasting relationships with local growers. The result are award winning rosés, the Mirabeau Classic which has aromas and flavours of wild strawberry, raspberry and redcurrant , light and lively on the palate, it’s an absolute thirst quencher. Their premium rosé, the Mirabeau Pure has hints of grapefruit, cherry and orange blossom but is fuller and a wine with more depth. It’s a “gastronomic”wine as they say, meaning it would be a great companion at your lunch or dinner table. Mirabeau rosés are available in the UK at Waitrose and online. They’re also active Twitter users so follow them @mirabeauwine Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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