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Recent Posts

Summer cocktails at The Four Seasons Park Lane

Jul 02, 15 Summer cocktails at The Four Seasons Park Lane

Posted by in All

We’re having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave…”Whenever I hear that word, the classic song pops into my head. Usually it’s Marilyn Monroe singing, she sang it in one of her movies, can’t recall which at the moment. Anyway, there’s lot of ways to cool down but I do like the tropical-fruit-cocktail way on occasion, makes a change from my usual. It just so happened that The Four Seasons on Park Lane had invited me down to try out their new summer cocktails. They’ve created 4 special ones for the summer months and 3 for Wimbledon fortnight. So after surfacing out of the Hell that is the London Underground whenever the temperature goes above 20C, I was greeted by the lovely folks at the Four Seasons with an amazing selection of cocktails. The new menu uses ingredients synonymous with a great British summer, perfect for enjoying on Amaranto‘s stunning terrace in the heart of Mayfair. Although because it was soooo hot we opted to stay in the air-conditioned hotel. I tried the Italian Job job first; a classical combination of Aperol and prosecco with elderflower St-Germain liqueur and finished off with mint, sugar and grapefruit juice. Very refreshing and finishing off with that slightly bitter taste that Aperol is famous for. My companion had the Summer-ita, a floral take on the classic Margarita, with Ochoa tequila mixed with hibiscus cordial, peach liqueur and lime juice. It was served very interestingly in a big round glass and was being topped with a  specially-made rose foam which was served in a cone shaped glass that nesteled within the round glass. It looked very stylish but my friend preferred to have the foam mixed in with the margarita. I also tried their version of a Mojito which was made with blueberries and watermelon and a strong dose of rum. Delicious! I loved this one and could have had a few more! But we still had the special Wimbledon themed cocktails. Every year, Head Barman Ivan Arena and his team create special...

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Dining at Mamounia

Jun 23, 15 Dining at Mamounia

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The first time I ever had hummus was here in London, of all places, and I have to say I was not overwhelmed. As a matter of fact, it took me a few tries before I came round to the delights of Middle Eastern food. However, I’ve come to love Middle Eastern cuisine and am always looking for good restaurants. There are loads of them in London but it’s often hard to find really good ones. I’ve found a good, reasonably priced one though, in of all places, Knightsbridge.  Mamounia specializes in Lebanese and Morrocan cuisine as well as featuring wines from both countries. They’re also known for their mezze and shisha terrace. Don’t let the shisha terrace in front put you off or the rather exotic Middle Eastern decor. The food is seriously good. The menu is not extensively long but features many of the traditional dishes of the region, including shish kebabs, tagines, couscous and grilled and charcoal cooked meats. I ordered the grilled chicken and it was one of the juiciest and flavourful grilled chickens I’ve had in a long time. My dining companion ordered the lamb shish which was expertly seasoned and so good. It was a bit of a pity that we ordered the mezze beforehand, even though it was delicious, as we barely had room to finish our mains. I also had the kibbeh which is one of my favourite starters and this one was a winner. I almost ordered another plate but luckily decided against it. The wine list is features wines from Lebanon and Morrocco. We had Chateau Ksara with dinner, two of the better red wines from the region. You know what they say, wine is made to go with the food of the region and this wine from Lebanon certainly did the job. I would not normally think that Knightsbridge would have good authentic Middle Eastern cuisine but Mamounia is good and the next time I’m feeling peckish in that part of town, I...

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Cuisson’s Pop-Down supper club

Jun 22, 15 Cuisson’s Pop-Down supper club

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Pop-up’s are everywhere nowadays but how about a pop-down? The concept is really a play on words as the events take place in the basement of Borough Barista, an independent coffee shop in St.James.  The dinners were created by luxury gastronomy experts, Cuisson and the POP-Down will be open Thursday-Saturday evening throughout the summer. Moving away from the usual supper club concept, POP-Down promises to deliver inventive, high-end dining at affordable prices. Despite being downstairs, the venue has a welcoming vibe and the kitchen is open for everyone to watch the chefs at work. We were also invited to help with the plating up of the food but it seems most of us were more interested in taking pictures for Instagram then in plating up food. But, what do you expect from a supperclub? As an added bonus, the chefs would come round and have a chat about what we were eating and any feedback or questions that we might have had about the food. The food was delicious and plated up innovatively. I really enjoyed the potatoes rolled in burnt hay with garlic sauce to start. The sous vide salmon was melt in your mouth good. I was a bit apprehensive of the sous vide salmon but I could have easily had another plate. The chicken parfait was a tower of pate and we all loved the platter of desserts, especially the pop rock garnish for one of the desserts. There was also a separate dessert bar which we didn’t try but all of the desserts featured in the bar were on our platter. The dinners will be held every Thursday, Friday, Saturday from 7.30pm onwards. Tickets are priced at £39 for 4 courses and are available to purchase in advance through Grubclub.Three courses at POP-Down Dessert Bar are priced at £25 For more information visit their website,     Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Kansas Smitty’s Jazz – American Jazz Bar in the East End

Jun 11, 15 Kansas Smitty’s Jazz – American Jazz Bar in the East End

Posted by in All, Lifestyle, London

There’s a new joint in town, Kansas Smitty’s. As seems with most new openings nowadays, it’s in the East End, Broadway Market to be exact. Kansas Smitty’s styles itself as a Jazz and Julep bar. The place is named after its resident house band, an 8 piece ensemble of young and enthusiastic, not to mention fabulous jazz musicians. As a matter of fact, the idea of opening a place came about because the band was so successful playing at other venues that they decided they needed a home of their own. They found it in the basement of the “Off-Broadway”. It’s a tiny place with room for just about 60 people, not sure if that’s including the band or not! Kansan Smitty are all about enjoying the music. I’d say their style is swing with dash of blues thrown in the mix. They say they are “… a mash of jazz genres, the Kansas Smitty’s gritty musical style is influenced by the sounds of New York, New Orleans, Paris, and Havana….” Whatever you want to call it, it was food fun! Their aim is to get Jazz in the UK out of the ghetto of expensive clubs or gimmicky theme nights, “…they want to  open up this exciting and evolving genre of music to a new, young audience and start a new trend in the live music scene.” The bar was fun and open, I chatted with some of the band members while we were all waiting for pizza at Franco Manca’s across the street during their break and they were seriously such a lovely bunch of fellows. I almost forgot to mention the cocktail list. It’s all Juleps, there are about 8 – 10 different versions of the Mint Julep, some made with coffee, come made with scotch and even garnished with banana chips. It was good fun and another cool place to hang out in the East.   Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Callooh Callay debut a new menu

Jun 10, 15 Callooh Callay debut a new menu

Posted by in All, Lifestyle

I remember when Callooh Callay first opened, back then I was living in Dalston before it was cool and Callooh Callay was one of the early ones to hit close to Kingsland Rd. I loved it but moved not long afterwards and so haven’t really been back in a few years. That is until I received an invitation in my inbox to come and check out their new food menu. Although they may have had nibbles in the past, they’ve now teamed up with local restaurant, 1oo Hoxton and Ziloufs to offer patrons more than just crisps and peanuts. The menu consists of various small plates that are Asian inspired. According to Callooh Callay, “Thai-trained Aussie chef Tim Yates and Francis Puyat, formerly of Nopi, have together delivered a concise sharing menu offering a clean, fresh take on Asian fusion and focusing on their combined passion and extensive experience with Thai and Vietnamese flavours in particular.” The idea of small plates is only natural as drinking in  a cocktail club is usually a shared experience (and when it’s not, well, let’s not go there right now…). Anyway, the evening I went we sampled various dishes from the menu along with a few signature cocktails from the list. We started with MSG Chicken Salt popcorn. I was completely mystified as to what that was but my friend, Jason, had lived in Sydney for a year so he was beyond excited to see Chicken Salt. At first I thought, weirdo, but upon popping a handful of this popcorn in my mouth, I was hooked. It’s very savoury and moreish, well, what do you expect from something flavoured with MSG?At least they’re not trying to hid it! I sampled a few other plates. The prawn toast consisted of fried wontons and the plumpest prawns, very tasty. I also had the soft shell crab roll, I love soft shell crab and it was cooked to crispy perfection. The boneless chicken wings that followed were salty sweet but perfect...

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Summer is Coming: The Best Wines for Summer Evenings

Jun 09, 15 Summer is Coming: The Best Wines for Summer Evenings

Posted by in All, Food and Wine

We’ve had a heatwave (sort of ) and so it’s official. Summer is on the way! This means long evenings out in the garden and barbecues. It also means a whole different load of wine to drink. Yes, even more different than the spring wines. After all, nobody really wants to sit inside nursing a bottle of red when the sun is out to play. To celebrate the imminent summer, here are the best wines for those warm evenings. Chateau Sainte Marguerite Organic Rose There’s something so refreshing about rose wine on a summer evening. Try to avoid the dark and rich looking wines, these are reserved for chilly, winter nights. Instead, opt for a rose that is pale in colour. The Chateau Sainte Marguerite sums up all that is right with the world of summer wine. It’s crisp and refreshing, a bit like taking a bite into a strawberry. This French wine is a must-have for dinners on the patio. Hunter Valley Chardonnay Looking for a dry white to accompany your fishy supper? This is the perfect wine to serve with prawn, salmon, lobster… Or even fish and chips if you fancy. The Hunter Valley is a prime example of Australian Chardonnay, which has become very up and coming in the wine world. It has all of the oakey undertones you would expect from a good Chardonnay too. Aglianico 2012 For those who refuse to put down their red, even when the sun is shining, this is the wine for you. After all, who can say no to a dark and fruity Italian wine? Although this may have an everyday price tag on it, you’ll find it tastes quite out of the ordinary. Serve this with some real Italian favourites – anything with tomato and basil in it, basically. It will go down a treat. Mount Bluff Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc NV Everyone has to have a bit of fizz in their life! Plus, summer is the perfect excuse to pop open a bottle....

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Cono Sur wines sponsor the Tour de France

Jun 08, 15 Cono Sur wines sponsor the Tour de France

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Cono Sur Head Winemaker and CEO Adolfo Hurtado was in town recently to talk about their continued sponsorship of the Tour de France. This is the second year that Cono Sur has been the official wine of the Tour. It may sound rather unusual to have a Chilean winery sponsoring a French sporting event but they have been allowed to be one of the official sponsors. The only catch being, they can only advertise while on the legs of the tour that are not actually held in France. It’s only fitting as they are known as the wine with “the bicycle on front” that they should sponsor the Tour. The sponsorship is not coincidental as they are obsessed with bicycles in the vineyards of Cono Sur. As a matter of fact, their employees travel all through the vineyards and home again on bicycles. Adolfo commented that when you visit, there is always a row of bicycles waiting for the next rider. Cono Sur has commissioned limited edition Bicycle bells to commemorate the 102nd edition of the Tour de France. “These specially commissioned golden bells are to give thousands of Bicicleta wine drinkers something extra to remember whilst enjoying these great wines as well as this exciting sporting event.“ The bells will be on the Bicicleta range of wines. Cono Sur wines will as noted earlier be featuring in the ‘pre-race’ caravan during the Grand Depart phases which this year take place in the Netherlands and Belgium. Of course, Adolfo also had some wines for us to try. We were treated to their range of pinot noir wines. They are becoming increasingly well known for their pinot noir and Adolfo is very proud of all the work they’ve done over the years to find the best terroir for pinot noir in Chile. He says that the style and quality of Chilean pinot noir has improvedand changed a lot over the years. They have now gotten to the point where they are selecting the best spots to...

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The 3 Martini Lunch is Back!

Jun 02, 15 The 3 Martini Lunch is Back!

Posted by in All, Lifestyle, London

The 3 Martini lunch is making a comeback. Back in the good old days of business lunches that started at noon and carried on until dinner time, the 3 Martini lunch was a staple. Sadly, the spread of American style working hours and the need to always be working or to be  seen working (don’t ask me) seemed to take hold for quite some time. Happily, thanks to the influence of shows like Mad Men and probably the fact that the recession seems to be finally ending or at least abating in the City of London, the 3 Martini lunch is now making an appearance at  The Singer Tavern, a gastropub like venue, has in it’s basement a cool little cocktail bar, 5CC. The cocktail bar has come up with the 3 Martini lunch special, available upstairs in the Singer Tavern. The concept is simple- 3 Martinis BUT paired with specially selected small plates. The lunch is only available on Thursdays and Fridays between 12 -5 pm and by reservation only. One does have to keep up standards. There are two options, the first option is a choice of 3 martinis from a special martini menu which accompanies a main from the Singer food menu. The martinis go by names such as The Montgomery, The Sinatra (my favourite) and Lucky Luke. The second option is their set menu where they pair the martinis with food. I tried the set menu. The first course was The Montgomery (1.5 parts No. 3 Gin and 1 part Dolin Dry Vermouth) paired with Mushroom, pecorino and truffle toastie. The Monty, was very drinkable, smooth and crisp. Paired with the toastie, it was very umami-ish. I could have eaten another plate of those toasties easily. Next was The Sinatra (6 parts Dorothy Parker Gin, half part Tio Pepe Fino sherry and Raegans orange bitters) paired with Crispy duck & charred broccoli salad. So tasty both the martini and the salad. The duck salad was well balanced between salty and...

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Cocktails inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show at the Kensington Hotel

May 20, 15 Cocktails inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show at the Kensington Hotel

Posted by in Lifestyle

Everything is coming up roses this week (or at least flowery) as it’s the week of the Chelsea Flower Show. I visited the Kensington Hotel last night to sample the special cocktail they’ve created to celebrate all those stunning floral displays down the road. Their mixologist Alessandro Pizzoli has concocted the Lily of the Valley, a gin based cocktail served tall over ice. While we where there, Alessandro walked us through all the ingredients used including the homemade lavender sugar they use to give the drink an extra lift. The cocktail is served with seasonal edible flowers which I, of course, scoffed down along with the drink. I love eating edible flowers and the tastes are always surprising! The Kensington is also offering a floral themed menu to go along with Lily of the Valley signature cocktail. In keeping with the theme of the show, the menu features unique botanical dishes such as chanterelles with green dandelion and puntarella, spring chicken with elderflower, and bitter chocolate and rosewater delice. They also include wild fennel flowers and hand-foraged pennywort in other dishes. The Lily of the Valley costs £14.50 while the floral menu is priced at £24 for two courses and £30 for three. Both are available to enjoy from 15th until 31st May. For more information, visit the hotel website here. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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The Gallivant – an English Seaside Hideaway

May 20, 15 The Gallivant – an English Seaside Hideaway

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I’ve always loved to visit the seaside. As a kid growing up in Central California, we would often take road trips to the beach and stay overnight in little seaside hotels. The Gallivant just outside Rye in Sussex aims to capture that easy going California vibe – and I think they are quite successful at doing that. Situated across from sand dunes so big that you can’t see the long sandy beach on the other side, The Gallivant is a little coastal hideaway on a two lane road that runs past the dunes. The single storey building has been around for 25 years and started out as a beach side café. Roughly 5 years ago, Harry Cragoe bought the hotel and has transformed its into the lovely boutique property it is today. They like to refer to it as ‘a restaurant with rooms’ and the restaurant and terrace are a focal point of the hotel. It’s all very cosy, comfy with a sky blue and white colour motif running throughout the hotel. The rooms are a good size with plenty of lovely little touches like old fashioned black telephones, canvas beach bags and very fluffy bathrobes. I especially liked the ‘Larder’, rather then have a mini-bar in every room there is a large pantry at one end of the hallway that is stocked with artisanal snacks, soft drinks and wine. It’s all done on the honour system, you just write down what you’ve taken and hand in the chit at the end of your stay. I think having it at the end of the hallway is genius – less temptation and all that…. The hotel focuses on offering outstanding products in a relaxed but thoughtful atmosphere. One of their main USP’s is that fact that they strive to provide local, seasonal, high quality produce – 95% of all the ingredients used come from within a 10 mile radius. I love the fact that everything is fresh and seasonal. While I was there, I had...

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