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Recent Posts

A New Rooftop Terrace in Piccadilly at Gaucho

May 15, 15 A New Rooftop Terrace in Piccadilly at Gaucho

Posted by in All

The sun is now making regular appearances in the skies over London which means it’s time to take advantage and start dining and drinking al fresco. Gaucho in Piccadilly have recently renovated a section of their second floor and now have a rooftop terrace. The terrace is intimate and cosy with a fireplace at one end and a retractable roof. The evening I visited, it  was a good thing they had that roof as it was a slightly drizzly evening. Luckily, the roof opens and closes at the press of a button so once it stopped raining, they quickly opened it up again. The terrace is open to the public but you can also reserve it for private dining or small parties. They offer their full list of their Argentine inspired cocktails and also have bar snacks available. I quite enjoyed the terrace and it’s a cosy little spot to slip away to in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Busting a gut at Joe’s Southern Kitchen

Apr 30, 15 Busting a gut at Joe’s Southern Kitchen

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If you’re slightly worried about your cholesterol intake or trying to lose a few pounds, don’t even THINK about visiting Joe’s Southern Kitchen. It’s true Southern cooking, tasty and totally unhealthy but with food this good, who cares? Live a little, as long as you don’t make a habit of going every night, you’ll be fine. I used to live in Washington, DC which although it’s the capital of America, is below the Mason-Dixon Line which means it’s technically in the South. And that means there are plenty of chicken joints, corn bread and collard greens within driving distance. Joe’s has to be the closest I’ve come so far to good ol’ Southern cooking – unpretentious, filling and delicious. This is Joe’s second location, the first being in Covent Garden, opened in 2013. They’re inspired by the American South and the fun, laid back atmosphere that you’ll find in any BBQ joint or Chicken & Waffle house. As a matter of fact, they have Chicken and Waffles on the menu which were divine. I especially liked the bourbon infused maple syrup. The new menu at Joe’s Kentish Town will feature many of the favourites from the original venue, but the main focus will be the venue’s signature new recipe, Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken with Lemon Salt & Tabasco Honey. Most of the food is designed to be served “family-style” which I have no problem with whatsoever. The menu also features their famous Beef Short Rib and other Southern favourites like Devilled Eggs, Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Gooey Corn Spoon Bread. Downstairs, they have new cocktail bar called the Jailbird where they’ll be serving up Southern cocktails with a twist featuring  innovative concoctions alongside original takes on the Southern classic Julep and Sazerac. I had both of Joe’s versions of those cocktails and they were delicious. They even made me a Mint Julep in a proper silver cup with lots of crushed ice and fresh mint. I really enjoyed eating at Joe’s and if you’re hankering for some good ol’...

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An Exploration of Champagne Ruinart Roses

Apr 22, 15 An Exploration of Champagne Ruinart Roses

Posted by in Champagne

“Champagne is best drunk between 9 am and 9 am the next day…” according to Ruinart Chef de Cave, Frédéric Panaïotis. I couldn’t agree more, which is how I found myself one Friday morning in Mayfair ready for a tasting of Ruinart’s rosés going  back to the 1980’s. The morning was dedicated to an exploration of Ruinart’s rosés. According the tasting notes, …”Ruinart is recognised by many as a reference for Blanc de Blanc Champagne and the Rosé wines in its portfolio contain a high percentage of Chardonnay grapes.  Frédéric describes the Ruinart Rosé as “A harmonious blending of two grape varieties, that gives a silky generous feeling on the palate.  The Chardonnay provides exceptional aromatic freshness while the Pinot Noir offers intense colour and delicate red fruits with an unexpected hint of exotic fruits…” I enjoy vertical tastings very much because it’s a chance to see how wines evolve and champagne is no different. We started with their NV rosé as a benchmark to see how the wines evolve over the years. This NV is full of berries and even has a few tropical notes to it. Fred noted that they are hoping to achieve an aromatic style of champagne, bursting with raspberry and strawberry. Fred says this is a rosé for jacuzzis, I’ll have to take his word for it! As we went through the wines, we went from Dom Ruinart 2002, 1998, 1996, 1990 and finished off with the Dom Ruinart 1988. The 2002 was still vibrant and pale pink in colour, still very aromatic on the nose. It was when we got to the 1990’s that the rosés began to turn darker in hue, almost onion skin in colour. The champagnes were also spicer and full of candied fruits on the nose and palate. By the time we go to the Dom Ruinart 1990, we were getting into Christmas pudding territory on the nose, with hints of dates, mushrooms and figs. This is definitely a food wine. Fred recommended this...

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Abbotts & Dalaunay Corbieres Reserved 2013

Apr 20, 15 Abbotts & Dalaunay Corbieres Reserved 2013

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Corbieres may not be as well known as other  French appellation but they can produce some cracking wines. I received the Abbotts & Delaunay wine awhile ago and have only just gotten around the tasting it, so many wines, so little time! Abbotts & Delaunay are a boutique winery in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France. The winery is a partnership between a Burgundian winemaker, Laurent Delaunay and Australian winemaker, Nerida Abbott. Both have an abiding passion for producing the best wine possible and were won over by the region and the diversity of its terroirs. One of the AOC’s in the region is Corbières. Wines from here are dark and full bodied. The wine is a blend of  3 of the classic grapes of the region,  syrah, grenache and mouvedre. The grapes come from 3 particular terroirs,  ‘65% come from the eastern Corbières (coastal vineyards yield grapes that lend freshness and elegance), 20% from the edge of the Fitou (a terroir located further south whose grapes offer lovely aromatic richness) and 15% from the Corbières Boutenac cru which give this wine its depth…’ Popping it open, I was not disappointed by the depth and flavour of the wine. Inky black in colour with loads of violets and spices on the nose (the wine is aged in 40% oak barrels), on the palate it’s rich and full bodied, supple with smooth tannins, a savoury wine, great with game or try it with a Sunday roast. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Sake Flights of Fancy at CUT

Apr 17, 15 Sake Flights of Fancy at CUT

Posted by in All, Food and Wine

The more sake I taste, the more I realize what a great food wine it is. Most people start out drinking hot sake in their local Japanese restaurant but there is so much more to sake then gulping it down with sushi. Sommelier Vanessa Cinti of  45 Park Lane wants has always been fascinated by Japanese culture was introduced to sake by her love of the cuisine. She recently qualified as a Sake Sommelier, being certified by the world recognised organization, The Sake Sommelier Association and has now created a unique sake experience called Shini-Tai. Shini-Tai will be offered in Bar 45 and at American steak restaurant CUT at 45 Park Lane. Both the bar and restaurant will be offering flights of sake comprising 3 sakes from small producers, chosen for their quality, flavour and array of style. We tasted the inaugural flight which consists of …’Amabuki Marigold brewed with yeast from the blossoms of marigold following a traditional Yamahai method, Kirin Vintage 2013, vintage sake with a rich sherry like taste and Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo a special sake aged in barrels of Domaine Ramonet (renowned Burgundy producer) will all be served at a chilled temperature…’ As Vanessa explained to us, sake is all about the purity of the water used, that’s what gives sake it’s distinctiveness. She also told us that like wine, there are many different varieties of rice used to make sake, as a matter of fact, there are about 80 different varieties in use today. During the tasting, we had both sweet and savoury food pairings. I was really surprised by how well the sake went with the pastries designed by CUT Pastry Chef, Niamh Larkin. The pastries were subtle and delicate, my favourite pairing being an orange madeleine with the sakes. CUT Executive Chef  David McIntyre has introduced new Asian influenced dishes on the menu this spring. Examples include Scallop ceviche, spring onions, shiso, wasabi-kosho ponzu, Tuna tartar cones, ginger, wasabi, sesame-miso tuille, and Steamed sea bass “Hong Kong” style, chili oil, garlic, ginger. We had...

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Wine Journey under the streets of St. James

Apr 15, 15 Wine Journey under the streets of St. James

Posted by in All

It’s possible to take a vinous journey around the world underneath the streets of St. James, Central London. I was recently invited to join one of these journeys that the Stafford Hotel has now begun hosting in it’s 380 year old wine cellars. The Stafford Hotel is a gorgeous 17th century townhouse that has now been converted into a luxury hotel. Over the centuries, it had a variety of illustrious owners but in 1912 is was sold and turned into a hotel. During WWII, the hotel was used to billet American and Canadian soldiers. There is even a small corner of WWII memorabilia deep in the recesses of the wine cellar. The Stafford has now decided to show off it’s cellars and wine collection by hosting a series of tastings there. Twice a month, the Master Sommelier, Gino Nardella, who has been with the hotel since the 1980’s, will lead visitors on a unique wine tasting experience below the streets of St James. The cellars have always been open to the public, all you have to do is ask, but here is the opportunity to spend a few hours amongst those aged bottles of wine, enjoying a selection as well as learning a bit and doing some food and wine matching. Gino has created a variety of bespoke evenings for wine lovers of all levels. He’ll take you on a journey through the vineyards, via the wine glass. The evening I attended we had a tasting of  wines from around the world. We tried emblematic wines from England, South Africa, Burgundy, Italy, Chile, Australia and Spain. Let me tell you, they don’t skimp on the wines, they were all from excellent  vintages, most from the mid to late 2000’s. Gino was also a great host, charming and informative. The hotel is offering a series of these Wine Journeys starting on 24th April with a Chardonnay Wine Journey. The price is £69 per person and includes food and wine tasting in the cellar with Gino. For...

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Pairing Food with Wine in Spring

Apr 13, 15 Pairing Food with Wine in Spring

Posted by in Featured Post, Food and Wine

I am currently in the middle of organising a spring party for friends. It’s not a party for any particular occasion. It is simply an opportunity for me to catch up and to experiment with some of the many wonderful ingredients that this season has to offer.   I have just completed the “food and wine pairing” item on my party planning checklist. And, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of my notes on what wines work best with some of the classic spring ingredients. I hope you find this post helpful for your own springtime merrymaking!   If you are pulling out all the stops for your soiree and treating your guests to some sparkling wine, I think the best time to serve this is at the start of your party. Dry Champagne and Cava make an excellent match with salty foods. So, serving them with some nibbles, like homemade roasted and salted almonds or little anchovy toasts, will really go down a treat. Salmon is at its best in spring. This fish makes a wonderful main ingredient in a number of seasonal starter recipes. For example, asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon with vinaigrette, salmon mousse or pâté. If you are serving salmon with a citrusy sauce or dressing, a Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice as it won’t be overpowered by the tartness of the sauce. For a creamier and richer salmon starter, a smooth Chardonnay will make an excellent match. As everyone knows, lamb is the king of spring meats. It is a very strong flavoured meat and so  requires an equally robust tasting wine to accompany it. If you are splashing out on a really good bottle, make sure your meat matches the quality. Donald Russell is an online butcher with a sound reputation and is an example of a good business to source your lamb from. One of my favourite bottles to open when eating roast lamb is a Cabernet Sauvignon. The...

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and now for something different…& Union Beer

Apr 11, 15 and now for something different…& Union Beer

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While it is true that I’m the Winesleuth, I have started to branch out a bit into the world of craft beers. I like beer but it’s never been something that I took a more than perfunctory look at. However, with the proliferation of craft and artisan beers, I’m giving them a go. Recently, I was introduced to a rather unique brand, & Union. The brand was founded in 2007 in South Africa and quickly became the biggest craft beer in S. Africa. In 2010, they launched in the UK and now have 10 different styles of beer. The labels are clean and simple – as are the names, Unflt Lager, Beast of the Deep, Steph Weiss, Bern Stein, Brewers Union, Sundae and Handwerk. & Union outsource their beer making to family owned breweries in Bavaria and Belgium. The first brewery they contracted was 500 year old and is run by the 6th generation of brewers.  Like flying winemakers, & Union also contract brewmasters to create unique recipes for each of their brews. The range consists of 10 different styles, from a lager to the newest IPA. All of their beers are unfiltered, unpasteurized and as they adhere to German purity laws, they are naturally vegan (if you’re into that sort of thing). They only use 4 ingredients and take 6 – 10 weeks to brew their beers which is unusual when compared to mass produced beers (2 weeks). Their latest release is called Friday. It’s an unfiltered IPA that is their version of the American-style IPA, deep copper in colour, with a peachy palate and a hoppy dryness on the finish. They recommend it with spicy foods like Cajun, BBQ, Indian curries and Szechuan food. I was also able to try the rest of the range and I have to say, they were very tasty, unusually light and not bloat-y or gassy. I really liked these beers. Their range is available at Wholefoods and specialty stockists. They are also the only beer on tap...

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World Malbec Day with Guacho

Apr 08, 15 World Malbec Day with Guacho

Posted by in All, Argentina

World Malbec Day is coming up, it’s April 17th in case you forgot to save the date. To mark the day, Argentine restaurant Gaucho is launching a week of special Malbec tastings at various Gauchos around London. I was invited to a sneak preview of the tastings with Mr Malbec, himself, Gaucho’s Director of Wine, Phil Crozier. The tasting was held at the Gaucho Piccadilly restaurant location, very handy locale, I love going there. Phil explained that our tasting would cover the spectrum of Argentine malbec from north to south and east to west. Phil started by giving us a bit of history about the grape. According to legend, malbec arrived on April 17th with a French missionary in the 1600’s. For many years it was known as the ‘French grape’ by the Italian immigrants who mainly cultivated the vines in Argentina. Malbec has had its ups and downs in Argentina but since the 1980’s 15 billion dollars has been inveseted in the industry and today, there are over 50,000 hectares in production. The tastings over the 7 days starts with The Pioneers, the winemakers who brought malbec to worldwide attention. We tasted the Mandala 2013 from one of the true pioneers of Argentine wine, Susanna Balboa. A beautiful wine, inky purple blue in colour, smooth and round but not too heavy. Lucky us, Phil brought out a board of lomita steak to match. Excellent with the steak, cutting through the fattiness of the melt in your mouth meat…. The New Generation was represented by Sebastian Zuccardi and his Poligonos, an unoaked wine made from old vines. A powerful, concentrated wine but full of fruit and very clean. The vines are in the Uco Valley where some the oldest vines in Argentina can be found. Phil developed this wine with Seb for the Gaucho wine list. As a matter of fact, 5 of the 7 wines we were tasting were developed by Phil with the winemakers. The other themed tastings will feature, ‘Old Vine...

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Celebrity Wine Vineyards that You Should Visit

Mar 18, 15 Celebrity Wine Vineyards that You Should Visit

Posted by in Featured Post

If you are a traveler who loves drinking a glass of champagne or any other tipple while on a trip, then you really should visit  a wine vineyard. Aside from getting a taste of the best and freshest wines, you will also be treated to other amenities like food and entertainment. In addition, you will be able to gain more knowledge about wine, and you might be able to meet new friends. To make your journey more exciting, you can visit those vineyards that are owned by celebrities. Popular actors and actresses like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie actually own vineyards that are open for public viewing. What’s more, they have taken the effort to enhance its facilities so that you can greatly enjoy your stay there. If you are super excited to start your journey, check out the rest of this post first to learn more about the best wine vineyards that are owned by celebrities. Blenheim Vineyards This winery in Charlottesville, Virginia is owned by Dave Matthews – lead singer of the Dave Matthews Band. It’s a family-owned business that was built in 2000. It spans 1,260 acres, and four acres of it is dedicated for growing grapes. The Blenheim Vineyards is known for their Viognier, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. However, they also produce Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Dave Matthews made a partnership with popular winemaker Steve Reeder in order to produce the Sonoma’s Dreaming Tree Wines. Chateau Mirava This establishment in Southern France is owned by the famous celebrity couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Their winery encompasses a 1,200 acre establishment. Near the Chateau Mirava is the French Country Manor. This place offers a grand scenery of lush gardens and woodlands. The power couple’s winery produced an award-winning rosé wine and was included in the Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines. Il Palagio Owned by Sting and Trudie Styler, this 900-acre vineyard is located in Italy. They feature delicious and organic wine that was made from biodynamic agriculture. Aside from...

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