Cocktails in Chiswick

Sep 17, 11 Cocktails in Chiswick

Posted by in Italy, Lifestyle, restaurants, Spirits

London recently had a week dedicated to cocktails and who doesn’t like a well mixed cocktail? I’ve visited a few cocktail bars in London and the best seem to be located centrally but if you’re one of the lucky ones who live in or near Chiswick, you’ve got a gem of a cocktail bar/restaurant on your doorstep. Charlotte’s Bistro (little sister to Charlotte’s Place in Ealing) of Chiswick with it’s dark wood and modern glass and steel frontage just looks like a great place to order a martini or two. To get to the restaurant you have to pass through the small bar up front but everyone is so friendly on entering that it’s hard not to stop and have a drink before carrying on up the stairs to the dining room. Laura Marnich (ex-Sketch) is the Head Bartender and she works closely with the Head Chef to come up with unique cocktails. Why would the  Bar work with the kitchen? Because Laura likes to create with cocktails with a twist: Fennel & bergamot martinis, Peach & Basil KT Blossom martini and Cherry Meringue sour  with frothed egg whites, just some of the concoctions the bar and kitchen have come up with over the past year. I tried all of them and they all surprised me. I must say, I was a bit sceptical about fennel and bergamot but the combination was intoxicating (figuratively and literally). As a matter of fact, I think I drank most of my companions – ooops! Laura also does traditional cocktails and the Manhattan she whipped up passed my very strict Manhattan taste test despite the fact it was served straight up at first, they even had their own marinated cherries. Laura likes to change the menu seasonally, working with whatever fresh ingredients are available. Currently they are just finishing up summer and I can’t wait to see what she devises for Autumn. Prices? Well, unlike Central London, prices here are run between £7.50 and £9.50 and you definitely...

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Falanghina & Auchentoshan for a Shacklewell Night

Sep 05, 11 Falanghina & Auchentoshan for a Shacklewell Night

Posted by in Food and Wine, Italy, Spirits

Walking up Kingsland Road and then merging onto Stoke Newington Street, I was wondering if I would ever find the venue for Shacklewell Nights’ latest dinner. Past rows of closed shops with the metal shutters locked tightly, Turkish grocers and off-licences, I spied a hipster with a clipboard in the battered open doorway of what seemed to be a long closed establishment. This had to be it. And it was. After making my way past the entry room, it opened up into a (covered) still surviving Victorian street, (awesome!) complete with dwellings on both sides of the street, one serving as an open kitchen. Aperitifs and dinner was served in Ruby House, which was across the street from the kitchen, and is set over 5 floors of a Victorian townhouse, with plenty of retro furnishings and faded grandeur.  The entire venue is known as MC Motors and is very shabby chic. Auchentoshan was one of the sponsors and we got plenty of single malt whiskey cocktails before setting down to dinner. Shacklewell were serving roast chicken and I was asked by the organizers to recommend a red and white wine with dinner. I chose the 2010 Terradora Falanghina to go with the chicken. Falanghina is one of the easier to pronounce Italian varietals, coming from the slopes of Vesuvius, it is one of favourite white wines. Falanghina is a wine made for food, full of minerality but having good structure and plenty of apple, quince and citrus notes. It is rather round on the palate but not oily more like a substantial, elegantly textured white wine and miles better then any pinot grigio. A good match with the roast chicken, I enjoyed it with the starter of langoustine as well, the wine’s citrusy character coming to the forefront. In the middle of dinner, we were escorted, table by table, to a circa 1930’s decorated basement bar to sample Auchentoshan whiskey and learn a bit about the history of the whiskey. Luckily, we weren’t left...

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Bisol, Venissa and an obscure grape called dorona

Aug 12, 11 Bisol, Venissa and an obscure grape called dorona

Posted by in Italy

I was standing in the middle of Bisol’s vineyards in the heart of the Cartizze region of Valdobbiadene in Northern Italy with a glass of prosecco in hand when I spotted an odd, rusty looking chimney-like apparatus sticking straight up out of the earth at the end of the vineyard. Being The Winesleuth, I had to ask,”What is that? ” “It’s  a cannon to fire chemicals into the clouds, so we don’t get hail,” my guide, Consuelo informed me. While I was in Valdobbiadene, I did hear the cannon being fired off every afternoon. It might not be state of the art but it seemed to keep the hail away. Bisol have been making prosecco for hundreds of years and they’ve perfected the art of prosecco. An easy going, relaxed sparkling wine that is just as good with or without food, Bisol have a whole range of sparklers, from the cheerful Jeio to the seriously experimental NoSo2, Bisol seem to do it all. Standing in the middle of the vineyard, drinking the wine made from the vines surrounding me was a great experience but then again, it’s always a thrill to drink wine in the vineyards from which they came. I was drinking their Cartizze which is their top of the line wine and enjoying it immensely. Fruity, slightly off dry with lovely green apple, lemon and lime notes and, I’m not sure if it was because of the damp in the air that made the smells of the earth jump into my nose but there was a distinct mineral note coming from my glass. After sipping the Cartizze, we made our way to the winery where I sampled the NoSo2. The idea behind the NoSo2 is a wine that is made with no exposure to light or oxygen and thus can be produced and sent out without the use of sulfur. A very interesting wine, crisp and very dry, it’s not your grandma’s prosecco, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t call it a prosecco...

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Design Wine, Italian wine the next day…

Do you know The Onion? If not, it’s a satirical newspaper that started at the Univ. of Wisconsin back in the 90’s. Now you might be wondering what The Onion has to do with wine. Well, I’ll tell ya. A friend of one of the original founders left, moved to Italy and decided after a long circuitous route that there’s nothing he’d like more then to do then find the best Italian wines out there and sell them online. And that’s how we get to Design Wine. I found all this out while talking to Tim O’Connell, at the recent Taste of London in Regent’s Park. Tim was on hand to get the word out about Design Wine. I had come across DW when I was in Italy recently but hadn’t had the chance to try their wines. At Taste, Tim had a nice selection of wines on hand and I got to try some of their sampler packs. The concept behind DW is quality Italian wine from artisan producers and, here’s their USP, NEXT DAY DELIVERY! Yes, believe it or not, you can get Italian wine the very next day in the UK! Now those of you in the States might not be impressed by next day delivery but believe me in Europe, next day delivery isn’t very common and for Italian wines? HA! Tim and co. have a warehouse in London which enables them to get around the logistical nightmare that delivery inter-Europe can be. Another unique selling point is their 3 and 6 bottle cases of wine. Each case is specially selected at various price points so you don’t have to blow your budget to get good wines. Of course, if you want to push out the boat, there’s nothing wrong with that and they do have some of the greats from Tuscany and Piedmont on their books. Design Wine have become the biggest innovators of Italian wine online in Italy with this concept and now they’re here in the UK....

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Riccardo Prosecco wins the Taste of London summer wine award

At the recent 2011 Taste of London wine awards, Riccardo Prosecco was awarded the Taste of Summer wine award. It was a tough competition, over 80 wines were blind tasted one early Wednesday morning and after much discussion and to-ing and fro-ing, Riccardo Prosecco won the day. Riccardo was up against some tough competitors but at the end of the day we decided it would indeed be the wine that was most emblematic of the Taste of Summer. The first time I had Riccardo prosecco was last summer at a secret supper club. I had never heard of them but was surprised at the quality of the wines. As I recall, I found them to be quite substantial wines, not just your run of the mill, slightly sweet, fizzy white wines. These were proseccos with a backbone, wines that were not just for aperitivo-quaffing but could also be enjoyed with a meal. I liked the wines but never really ran across them again and filed the name away. That is until this past April when I found myself on a holiday in the Veneto region. The Veneto is just a hop,skip, and a jump away from the prosecco producing region of Treviso so I hopped on a train and an hour and a half later, I was at the foot of steep hills of the ConeglianoValdobbiadene DOCG, chatting with Roberto Fornasier, the son of one of the brothers who own Riccardo Prosecco. Riccardo prosecco is in memory of the father of the brothers. Did you know that the grape to make prosecco is not called prosecco? I didn’t know that until I visited Treviso and the prosecco producing region of Valdobbiadene DOC recently. Up until 2009, prosecco was the name of the grape but because so many other regions were hijacking the name prosecco and calling any Italian sparkling wine prosecco, whether or not the wine was actually made from the prosecco grape, the Italian government decided to take action. They went back to...

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I visited Piedmont with Berry Brothers & Rudd and so can you…

It’s not too late to enter Berry Bros. & Rudd’s latest competition to win a trip to Piedmont, Italy with their resident wine buyer, nebbiolo expert, and 8th generation Berry, David Berry Green. Berry Bros. & Rudd is one of the oldest wine merchants in the world and is offering one lucky person and a companion the chance to hang out with their Piedmont winebuyer. Piedmont is well known for it’s Barolo’s but did you know that Barolo is made from nebbiolo? Or that nebbiolo is also made into an early drinking, bright and very food friendly wine? All you have to do is make a short video explaining why you think you’d like to win. I was invited to visit Serralunga d’Alba, where David is based in Langhe, Piedmont, and met many of the producers as well as eat some very choice food and visit medieval castles. But the real reason we were there was to discover the wines made from the nebbiolo grape. I had a chance to sit down with David and asked him why he thought nebbiolo was worthy of being in the spotlight. See how easy it is to make a video and what a lovely chap David is? So what are you waiting for, make your own video explaining why you think you should win the trip and get your entry in by 21 April 2011. Good luck! Full Details and how to enter here  in Competition Details Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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