The Table Cafe menu relaunch and new wine list

Aug 20, 12 The Table Cafe menu relaunch and new wine list

Posted by in Food and Wine, France, Italy

I went to the relaunch of  The Table Cafe in Southwark the other day.  The main draw for me was the fact that fellow wino, Matt Walls had worked closely with the owner, Shaun Alpine Crabtree to create a wine list that was features wines and grapes that might not normally be found on UK wine lists. The evening was jam packed with the wine-eratti of the blogosphere, thanks to Matt Walls, who was on hand to meet and greet and talk about his new book (Drink Me) as well as the wines that he had chosen for the list. A small, thoughtful list, there were lots of wines that I, as a wine person, wish would get more exposure: for the reds, St. Laurent (Austrian red), Mencia from Bierzo, a reasonably priced and good Nebbiolo (£30), for the whites – Grillo, Verdeca, and Garnaxta blanc. That was just a few examples of the off the beaten track wines to be found. The best thing is the markup is not outrageous, the majority of the wines in the under £30 price range. Table Cafe was also introducing a new menu from Chef Cinzia Ghignoni, lately of Duck Soup in Soho, who wants the kitchen to focus on regional Italian cooking with a special emphasis on the cuisines her home region, Northern Italy. Table Cafe is also a big proponent of sustainability and recently was granted 2 stars by the SRA for their use of  herbs from local allotments and Regent’s Park honey. The menu is divided into small and large plates and they serve Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Brunch on the weekends. Their full menus are here  online. As for us, we had a sampling of the food and wine that evening:  I neglected to take a pic of the first starter which was Baccala mantecato with polenta crisps paired with a Portuguese Adega de Moncao Vinho Verde 2011. Very garlicky but as with all things garlic, so, so good. Loved the polenta crisps,...

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I know this great little place in Covent Garden…Dalla Terra

Aug 04, 12 I know this great little place in Covent Garden…Dalla Terra

Posted by in Food and Wine, Italy, wine bars

I know this great little place in Covent Garden, it’s called Dalla Terra. It’s easy to miss even though it is in the heart of Covent Garden, just off Long Acre as a matter of fact. Dodging my way past the throngs of shoppers and tourists, I turned off on to a sleek corridor of shops which ended in an open stone courtyard, surrounded on all sides by some very beautiful architecture. Dalla Terra’s glass fronted facade announces its presence in big white blocky letters. Stepping inside though, it’s very inviting, warmly lit with walls of wine lining both sides of the interior. One side of the room has individual tables  whilst the other side has a long communal table, ending with a table for two situated right next to the glass walled wine cellar. There’s also a long bar at the back of the bar if you just fancy a few bar snacks. It’s a wine bar that specializes in small Italian wine producers. They range from the big boys like Banfi and Gaja to small, natural wine producers. As many of you know, I am sceptical of natural wines but there are enough good ones to justify having them on a list and Dalla Terra has some winners. We were there for some wine and food matching. Dalla Terra has a full menu as well as cheese and charcuterie platters.  We tried  a fab dish of marinated hake before moving onto a “board” of meat as it’s termed at the restaurant. Dalla Terra sources as much of their food from Italy as possible and the charcuterie plate was a bonanza of salami! They offer a salami and cheese board paired with 5 different red and white wines and is available for only £20 – bargain and well worth it! The cheeses as well were all Italian. We picked a red wine to go with the cheeses, a Valpolicello, Kairos  from the producer, Zyme. A rich, textured wine, bursting with flavour, a succulent...

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Decanter Italian Fine Wine Encounter this weekend

May 16, 12 Decanter Italian Fine Wine Encounter this weekend

Posted by in Italy

It’s that time of  year, the Decanter Italian Fine Wine Encounter. I always seem to miss it but this year for whatever serendipitous reason, I am in town and looking forward to attending the event. I had a look at some of the producers attending and some of the big boys will be there, including Castello di Banfi and Isole di Olena, there will be plenty on offer. I am looking forward to trying some of the smaller producers as well. There are going to be over 300 producers on show so there is bound to be a hidden gem amongst the fine wines. There are also going to be various masterclasses available, including Marchesi Antinori, Allegrini and Barolo 2005 – should be good and I’m sure they will have some cracking vintages on tasting. And, last but not least, there will be food and wine matching classes on offer. Tickets are still on sale, £40 per person for entry to the event at The Landmark Hotel in Central London. For more info on the masterclasses and food and wine matching events, visit  http://www.decanter.com/events or call 020 3148 4513. See you there! Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Hey, Vini Italiani, what’s up?

May 14, 12 Hey, Vini Italiani, what’s up?

Posted by in Italy, wine bars

You don’t have to go far from the UK to find exciting wines and wine regions. It’s easy to forget sometimes that we are very lucky to have access to wines from all over the world. We have so many great wine shops here. I was reminded of this last week when some Texan wine blogging friends of mine were in town and we decided to do a bit of wine tasting. We visited only a few but they were quite  impressed by the range of wines and wine shops in London. One of the shops we visited was the Italian wine specialist Vini Italiani. I like that name, if you say it out loud, it sounds like you’re referring to your friend Vinny. As in “Yo, Vinny! What’s  up?” Anyway. Italy is one of my favourite wine countries because I’m always discovering a new wine or variety or sometimes, both!  Everyone knows Barolo and Chianti, perhaps Nero d’Avola  and, of course, the ubiquitous pinot grigio but there are so many other varieties and wines waiting to be discovered. I had never been to Vini Italiani but had heard about it via Twitter and Facebook and it looked like they might have an interesting selection. What attracted me more then anything were the enomatic machines. I think they are a great attraction in any wine shop and certainly make the prospect of wine shopping a lot more fun. For those of you who are not familiar with the machines or haven’t had the opportunity to use them, they are basically wine dispensing machines which use a chip and pin type card to purchase the wine. You put on a set amount of money on the card and then slip it into the machine and make your choice. The machines dispense the wines in 3 different sizes, at Vini Italiani it was 25ml, 50 mls and 75 mls, all at various price points depending on the price of the bottle, which gets deducted from the...

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A Taste of Tuscany at the Four Seasons Park Lane

Nov 24, 11 A Taste of Tuscany at the Four Seasons Park Lane

Posted by in Food and Wine, Hotels and Spas, Italy

A “Taste of Tuscany”.  An invitation arrived in my inbox shortly after I came back from Florence, Italy to visit the Amaranto restaurant in the recently refurbished Four Seasons Hotel on Park Lane. I love Italy and Italian cuisine so this seemed right up my alley. Having been wined and dined in Florence, I was looking forward to what the Four Seasons Park Lane London had to offer. I was not disappointed as I rolled in one Saturday night. While waiting for my dining companion, I perused the cocktail list which featured artisanal bitters, botanicals and homemade infusions which the bar of the Amaranto uses for its imaginative concoctions.  The cocktails were all updated versions of classics with a special section dedicated to the Negroni with 6 different versions to choose from, I went with the Aromatic Negroni which featured Rabarbaro Zucca, Cinzano Orancio and pear grappa. Good and strong, just the way I like them. For entertainment, there was a 6 ft tall blonde female sax/jazz flute player floating around the bar. Dinner started with a traditional Ribollita, a Tuscan vegetable soup paired with a vermentino, the 2009 Occhio al Vento from Rocca delle Macie. All of the dishes were paired with this particular wineries offerings. Rocca delle Macie is set in the heart of Chianti Classico and is a family run business, founded by an Italian movie director in the early 1970’s. Vermentino is a variety I don’t get to drink often and I do enjoy it’s fresh and vibrant qualities. The next dish, the spicy “pici piccanti” was hand-rolled spaghetti served with garlic and walnuts. Very flavourful and spicy for an Italian dish, the spicy notes of the food were quenched by Vernacchia 2009 that was served along with it. Italian white wines do have those savoury and herbaceous flavours which make them great food wines. The pastas are homemade and Chef Davide DeGiovanni showed us the pastas when we toured the kitchen afterwards, one of which was the wild boar...

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Frescobaldi – Italian wine competition!

Do you want to get to know Italian wine a bit better? The only way is to taste and to help you get your hands on some good Italian wine,  The Winesleuth has teamed up with Marchesi de Frescobaldi to offer you guys, my readers, the opportunity to win some fantastic Italian wine. I’ve got a vertical vintage case of CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG (2003, 2004& 2005) to give away as first prize and two lucky runners-up will receive a magnum bottle of Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Reserva DOCG 2007. (Prizes can only be delivered to a UK mainland address). All part of Frescobaldi Fortnight at Caldesi in Campagna which runs from Wednesday 2nd October until Saturday 12th November. Read on to find out more… Paola Rocchi, Head Chef at the Frescobaldi’s CastelGiocondo estate, one of the most prestigious properties in the Montalcino area, will be leaving her Harley Davidson at home as she swaps the rolling Tuscan hills this November for the rather more tranquil landscape of Bray. Paola is originally from Acquapendente, a small town in the Lazio region, and is known as a quiet and studied woman who prides herself on traditional Tuscan dishes. Giancarlo and Katie Caldesi were struck by her cooking several years ago on their first visit to CastelGiocondo and have kept in touch ever since. “She adds a touch of magic to her dishes” muses Giancarlo “hers has all the flavour of home cooking brought up to a different standard”. It is for this reason the Caldesi’s have managed to persuade her to come and work with them for two weeks at their restaurant Caldesi in Campagna in Bray. “We are really looking forward to it”, says Katie, “I can’t wait to learn more tips and recipes from such a great chef. I will be interested to see what she thinks of our British produce and how she will use it. I am going to show her the game from our local estate, British apples and pears...

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