The Gallivant – an English Seaside Hideaway

May 20, 15 The Gallivant – an English Seaside Hideaway

Posted by in All

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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Taking Away in Manchester

Nov 21, 13 Taking Away in Manchester

Posted by in All

I have to say that whenever I leave London, I usually head to the Continent and very rarely head to the other  cities of England. However, it seems that I am missing a trick and really should head north of the M25. I love Chinese food and got this handy article from JUST EAT in Manchester the other day which I thought I’d share with you guys. Manchester possesses an eclectic mix of restaurants but those who don’t have the time or the energy to go out can take advantage of choosing the best that the city has to offer and eat their meal in the relaxing comfort of their own home. And what better way to curl up and unwind than with your favourite food and wine of choice? Exotic Chinatown in Manchester is the second largest in the UK. It’s entered through a highly ornate Chinese gateway and the area is usually humming with activity. If you’re unsure what to order you could always take advantage of JUST EAT’s food delivery in Manchester and sample some of the dishes on this company’s menus. As far as wines go, popular Chinese dishes such as barbecued pork and noodle dishes pair nicely with pinot gris or sauvignon blanc wines. Some people believe that ordering from restaurants can prove to be an unnecessary expense but if you order a ‘sharing menu’ all the family should be able to join in and it’s far cheaper to eat at home than to have to negotiate parking charges and other expenses in central Manchester. You also won’t get stuck in some of the motorway traffic jams. Taste Faulkner Street, M1 is one of the main thoroughfares for Chinese food. The tastes are diverse, and you’ll no longer have to be satisfied with Cantonese fare as many of  the newly opened enterprises specialise in food from all over China. Szechuan food, which tends to be spicier than Cantonese is growing in popularity; look out for green beans with chilli and pork, a truly fiery taste sensation. All the flavours of South East Asia can...

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Wine (and food) on a Brighton getaway

Apr 19, 12 Wine (and food) on a Brighton getaway

Posted by in England, Food and Wine, Lifestyle

I was invited down to Brighton recently to check out the Brighton and Hove food and wine festival. I’ve been to Brighton a few times and it is relatively easy to get there from London. If you can’t be bothered to do all the legwork yourself you can find Brighton Holidays online. The last time I was there for a winemaker’s dinner at the Hotel du Vin Brighton, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear that part of the festival was being held at the hotel and that they would be putting me up for the night there. This isn’t my first time at HdV Brighton, I’ve stayed there in the past and always enjoy walking into the comforting decor of the hotel, alternating between dark and blonde wood, cozy couches and chairs scattered around the main bar and a bustling bistro next to it. From the outside, the building dates back to the 16th-17thth century, complete with timber and whitewalls on certain parts of the hotel.  The interior though has all the mod cons and the suites come with giant bathtubs for a soak after spending the day at the beach, which by the way is literally across the road from the hotel. There’s also a charming courtyard as well as a suntrap of a terrace on the first floor. The hotel was putting on a small wine festival and had local producers and wine shops on hand to show off their wines. There was a large proportion of English wines available, including Ridgeview, Bolney’s and even Plumpton College had their local sparkling on offer. I also tried a fantastic pinot blanc from Stopham Estates. They are located in West Sussex and are the only producers of pinot blanc in the UK. The wine was not at all what I was expecting, not tasting like an English wine. By that I mean it didn’t have the telltale elderflower aromas or flavours nor was it slightly off dry. Bright and chipper, balanced fruit and...

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North 52 Bar & Kitchen… British food and wine in Soho

All things British is what’s hot in London, what with the Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee and of course, the ever present eat/drink local. There’s a new spot in Soho specializing in modern British food, 52 North Kitchen & Bar on Poland St. where all the ingredients are sourced from Britain, including many of the wines. A big open space, with communal tables and interestingly, wooden roof shingles instead of wallpaper covering the walls and columns. There is a long bar at running from one side of the room to the other and several old Chesterfield leather chairs and sofas in alcoves scattered around the room. There’s also a cozy basement with another bar to hang out in. What drew me into 52 North was the wine list, more specifically, they are one of the only places in Soho that features English wine by the glass, both still and sparkling. They have 5 still wines and 1 sparkling at the moment but are going to be adding more in the future. I’ve been a bit dubious about English still wines but the Biddenden Gribble Bridge ortega as well as their Bacchus were both refreshing, tasty and easy to drink. The menu consists of trad dishes like mushrooms on toast, scotch woodcock, Cornish mussels, English pork chop and Arbroath smokies fish cakes among other choices with prices about the same as many a gastropub around Central London.  I had the mushroooms and mussels which were delicious with the Biddenden Gribble Bridge 2010. The Gribble Bridge had plenty of bright citrus fruit on the nose, full of fruit but dry nonetheless. I found it very easy to drink. The Bacchus was another light wine, a good substitute for pinot grigio it has a bit more substance to it, more flavour then the average pinot grigio. Priced at £25 quid, I thought it might be a bit pricy, but Tony Ho, part of the operating team, told me that the Bacchus and Gribble Bridge have been flying out...

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English sparkling wine coming soon(ish) from the Isle of Sark

Jan 06, 12 English sparkling wine coming soon(ish) from the Isle of Sark

Posted by in England, Sparkling Wine, Travel

To be the first outside of the winemakers to try an experimental wine made by a well known Bordelais vigneron (with said winemaker standing right next to me) can be a bit nerve wracking. What if I hate it? What if it’s rubbish? What if I’m wrong and everyone else loves it? Well, none of those things happened when I found myself tasting the very first bottle of savagnin, fresh from the barrel. Savagnin is not a grape that I’m familiar with even if it does feature in the vin jaune wines of the Jura region. So, I was delighted and surprised to discover it was the first ever vintage of Sark wine. Yes, Sark as in the “Isle of,” one of the Channel Islands, closer the France then England but British nonetheless. The Sark savagnin was an experimental wine and in reality would only be used in small quantities for the final sparkling wine blend but it was intriguing to try the results of the first harvest of Sark. I was tasting with the Bordelais flying winemaker  and consultant, Alain Reynaud, who has been with the project from the very beginning. The vines were planted barely 18 months ago but a lot of care and planning went into the project before one vine was planted. Alain and soil consultant, David Pernet made many trips to the island to assess the terroir and find the best possible spots. The very first thing Alain did when he visited was to start digging through the first plot of land he was shown with his bare hands to see if the soil was suitable. They spent 6 months analyzing the soil before finally picking what they believe to be the best locations. Luckily, the island is primarily made up of granite and schist with a thin layer of topsoil – perfect to make those vines work hard. I don’t know what time of year Alain visited but I was there a few weeks ago (early Dec) and...

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