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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Awesome Amsterdam on a Budget: Eating Out, the Dutch Way

Mar 02, 15 Awesome Amsterdam on a Budget: Eating Out, the Dutch Way

Posted by in Travel

Amsterdam is one of those places that you need to experience at least once. I’ve been and I loved it. It’s a vibrant, bustling city with lots to discover on every corner. When it comes to city breaks, they can be a tad expensive. But, that doesn’t have to be the case with Amsterdam. In fact, this is one city where you can do a wealth of things for free. What’s more, you can tie in your foodie delights within the trip too. After all, you don’t want to break into your wine budget! There are some great things that you can do in Amsterdam on a shoestring. Let’s find out more about awesome Amsterdam and eating out the, Dutch way. Free Walking Tours (And Amazing Cafes!) There are a load of free walking tours within Amsterdam that you can be a part of. These operate on a daily basis. Head to Dam Square at midday to see the sights of what Amsterdam has to offer. You can take a relaxing strolling around Amsterdam with your friends. These take around three hours to complete, but they are a great way to soak up the excellent Dutch weather. Head to Singel 404 for a true taste of Amsterdam. They serve all of the traditional Dutch cuisine, but on giant sharing platters. Breads, wine and cheese are the perfect lunch. Lunchtime Concerts at Concertgebouwplein Despite the incredibly long name, Amsterdam is the home of free and live entertainment. During the peak summer months, free, open air concerts take place. These are a must for any culture vulture. You can sample the food, wines and watch the shows that are put on the centre of the city. The street food is a must with the Concertgebouwplein! Try the delicate rice pastries for a true taste of Amsterdam. Vondelpark Many European cities have luscious green spaces, but none is as beautiful as what Amsterdam has to offer. Vondelpark is a must for locals and tourists alike. The area...

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My Top 5 Favourite Tapas Bars in Barcelona

Feb 18, 15 My Top 5 Favourite Tapas Bars in Barcelona

Posted by in Food and Wine, Travel

I spent most of last Autumn hanging out in Barcelona and while I was there, I discovered plenty of little tapas bars around the well worn tourist path. There are SO many crap tapas bars in Barcelona. I hope my little list will at least give you brief glimpse into what you can find if you scratch the surface and get away from the tourist ghetto of Las Ramblas and Carrer de Ferran. As Barcelona is full of tapas bars, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one, the ones that I found were, for the most part, recommended to me by friends who live there or colleagues who visit often. So without further ado, here they are in no particular order: Bar del Pla (Born):  I found this place one night after we had visited a few other tapas bars in the area. The Born is part of the Barrio Gotic and Tourist Central but there are still great places to be found. Bar del Pla, while not exactly hidden, is not on a main street in the Born but off one of  its little alleyways and from the outside doesn’t look like much, although it always seemed to be packed with a mix of locals and tourists. Don’t let the tourists put you off, the menu features fresh and modern tapas with a twist and traditional foods as well as fresh salads. I remember ordering grilled calamares with chickpeas – so delicious, we ordered a second round! We also had a sardines on toast combo with mango and rocket, another inspired combination. The wine list is a mix of Spanish and foreign wines as well as house vermouth – which I love! The prices are a bit more expensive than the usual tapas bars but worth it and the staff was very helpful in making recommendations. I’ve been told the staff speak English, although as we all spoke Spanish, we didn’t put them to the test. Carrer Montcada, num. 2, 08003 Barcelona,...

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New cocktail menu and beef nibbles at Gaucho

Dec 03, 14 New cocktail menu and beef nibbles at Gaucho

Posted by in All

Last night I was invited to try out the new cocktail menu at Gaucho in Piccadilly. The Gaucho group has launched a new Autumn/Winter cocktail menu along with a ‘Beef in the Bar’ canape plate. I caught up with Ian O’Reilly, Head of Bar and Beverages at Gaucho, over a couple of cocktails to find out a bit more about the new seasonal menu. According to Ian, the idea behind launching the ‘Beef in the Bar’ was to highlight what Gaucho originally made the restaurant successful – beef! They want to get back to their roots and remind people that Gaucho is not a high maintenance or pretentious place, rather their main mission is to serve the best Argentine beef and red wine with a side of chips. The beef nibbles in the bar are all a part of that idea. At the moment, they are serving Aberdeen Angus Air Cured Bresola, Beef & Chilli Salami and Chimmichurri Cured Salt Beef and in the future they’ll be curing the meats in their own malbec, Vina Patricia. I thought the beef nibbles were a nice little accompaniment to the cocktails. The new cocktail menu is divided into 3 sections, aperitifs, signature cocktails and Buenos Aires classics. Ian described the signature cockatils as having something for everyone, he’s taken, in his opinion, some of the best of Argentine culture and artisanal products to create unique drinks. Gaucho stocks 4 or 5 artisanal products such as Herpedina, which is an orange liqueur only made in Argentina, which they use for one of their Buenos Aires classics cocktails. As the evenings are now long, dark and chilly, I went for the whiskey based cocktails on the list. I tried the signature cocktail Smoked Ginger made with Bullit rye, the Buenos Aires Classic The Re-Fashioned made with Woodfood Reserve bourbon with a touch of espresso and their Club Negroni made with Haig Club. Manhattans are my default cocktail but these bourbon/whisky based drinks at Gaucho could make me forget my manhattans,...

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Cooking with Babich Wines

Jul 15, 14 Cooking with Babich Wines

Posted by in Food and Wine

You know the old saying, ‘I love cooking with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food’? Well, that was kinda what a recent cooking lesson with Babich Wines at the Underground Cookery School was like recently! It was great fun and I managed to leave the event with all my fingers intact despite the fact that I was handling sharp knives for a good part of the afternoon. We had gathered at the Underground Cookery School near Old Street to see for ourselves how well Babich Wines go with food. They believe that their wines really need food to shine and after our cooking lesson, I could definitely agree. We were greeted by our host, and member of the family, David Babich with a glass of Marlborough pinot gris on arrival. A delicious, silky wine, not watery or too dry, it was a great way to start the event. Babich have been making wine in New Zealand for almost 100 years outside of Auckland. Well, when they started they were outside of the city but nowadays, the city comes right up to their doorstep. Babich was founded by David’s grandfather Josip, a Croatian immigrant in 1916 when he was less than 20 years old, quite an achievement even back then. Since then, the family’s aim has been to produce the best wine from the best wine regions in New Zealand. To that end, they have vineyards in Marlborough, Gimblett Gravels and Hawkes Bay as well as lesser known but quality regions. After a brief safety demo, we got down to business. Our task was to fillet a fish. I’ve never done it before but the fellows at Underground Cookery led us step by step and before I knew it. I had a fillet in hand. The sea bream was our first course and paired with the Cowslip Valley Riesling with bok choy and thai dressing was delicious. Their riesling had good depth, was full of fruit but dry at the same time...

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