Four Seasons Koh Samui, a luxury tropical hideaway

What better time to talk about beach vacations then now,when we’re battling the snow and ice of a January in London. Last month I went off to Thailand to escape the snow but looks like I came back a bit too early. I do, however, have some great memories from my trip, one of the highlights being a stay at The Four Seasons Koh Samui. Although the island may be known as a party place, the Four Seasons there is tucked away on a private hillside which is only accessible by  a long and winding path up a hill. Once you reach the top of the hill and after a quick check in, a golf cart is summoned to take you to your very own villa. While you’re a guest of the Four Seasons all transport around the hills is by deluxe golf carts. You just call reception and they send a golf cart to chauffeur you to the beach, the restaurant or the spa. The Four Seasons Koh Samui only has private villas which are scattered on the hillside, each with their own private infinity pool and views of the Gulf.  The back of the villa doesn’t have proper walls, only glass walls and sliding glass doors. There are also private residence rentals which are great for families. The villas are big, a good portion taken up by a veranda with a double lounging bed, dining table and of course, a deck which is part of the infinity pool. The cool sound of running water, courtesy of the pool fountain made for a very relaxing stay. The bedroom was huge with big comfy beds and mosquito nets. Those buggers were buzzing about but the mozzie nets worked really well. As did the air conditioning, although at night it cooled down with balmy breezes blowing across the veranda. While we were there, we were treated to a spa treatment in the hotel spa. It’s set in a coconut grove with 5 salas which are covered...

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A few suggestions for champers next week

Dec 21, 12 A few suggestions for champers next week

Posted by in Champagne

I ran away to Thailand for the holidays this season and not missing the cold, wet, soggy weather at all but one thing I am missing is champagne! Sadly, champagne is prohibitively expensive in Thailand due to taxes so I’m missing my favourite drink. Before I left, though, I managed to get in a few drinks. Perrier Jouet sent me a couple of bottles  of champagne to match with holiday fare. Although the GH Mumm Cordon Rouge might not be the first champagne to spring to mind, it’s a great food champagne and one that, when I try it, always ask myself, why don’t I have this more often? Fresh and crisp with lots of tiny bubbles and a zesty citrusy finish, it’s great to pair with turkey. I like Perrier Jouet Grand Brut NV with creamy cheeses like brie, with it’s high acidity and clean sweep of bubbles, it leaves you ready for the next mouthful. And, let’s not forget my favourite, the vintage stuff! I had the 2004 G.H. Mumm with hunks of gruyere and crackers, the nutty, bready flavours and aromas working well with the champagne. 2004 was a pretty good year and the Mumm 04 is developing very well. It still has plenty of life to go. So there you have a few suggestions from Mumm and Perrier Jouet. Enjoy all that champagne, I’ll be sipping on mai tais in Thailand but thinking of champagne…. I Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Sherry at La Tasca

Dec 10, 12 Sherry at La Tasca

Posted by in restaurants, Spain

It’s that time of year when Gran brings out the sherry. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. I was invited to La Tasca recently in Covent Garden to taste their sherry matching menu. I’m a big fan of sherry and food matching already but I wanted to see what they had put together. Manuel, our waiter, hails from Jerez, the home of sherry, and he explained that he would be guiding us through the basics of sherry. I think it’s great that La Tasca has staff who have sherry knowledge and are able to communicate this to the average consumer. Briefly, sherry is a fortified wine made from palomino and aged in the solera system. Manuel brought out 5 different sherries for us to sample. Tio Pepe Fino Muy Seco, La Gitana Manzanilla, Pedro Ximenez Triana, Oloroso Faraon and Amontillado Napoleon.  Manuel explained the different styles of sherry from the dry Fino muy seco to the very sweet and unctuous Pedro Ximenez. After that brief introduction, the food started arriving. Manuel recommended the classic pairing of jamon and almonds to pair with the Fino, the dry sherry being very refreshing with a salty note to it. I love this pairing. Amontillado was next, paired with cheese, olives and prawns. This sherry was slightly sweeter but still dry with a slightly caramel note to it. Sherry has great acidity which makes it an excellent wine to have with food. The next sherry was the Oloroso and this one is probably my favourite, savoury and salty but with a sweet, caramel nose. Delicious with trad tapas and cheeses, a medium bodied wine, it’s a great all rounder. We finished off with Pedro Ximenez which is a very sweet sherry made from it’s eponymous grape which is dried in the  hot Spanish sun before being made into wine. Manuel recommended that we pour the sherry over vanilla ice cream which we did. PX is full of raisins, prunes and dates on the palate and incredibly...

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Murano and Krug Champagne – a seasonally paired menu

Nov 05, 12 Murano and Krug Champagne – a seasonally paired menu

Posted by in Champagne, restaurants

I remember the first time I had Krug. It was a few years ago, it was a magnum from the mid 80’s and I was blown away by the richness, the intricacies,the balance of the champagne. Ever since then, I’ve had a weak spot for Krug although it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people find it too rich, too big, too substantial. While it is a substantial champagne, it’s because it’s a champagne that needs food, more so than many others. Angela Hartnett has partnered up with Krug and created a menu to complement their complex champagnes at her restaurant, Murano by Angela Hartnett in Mayfair. Krug Grand Cuvee was served as an aperitif – savoury and very mineral in character, you could taste the older vintages that were used in the blend. The Grand Cuvee is a very generous champagne, blended from a variety of vintages and has a very umami-ish character, perfect with parmesan cheese crisps and the brightest,meatiest green olives I’ve had in a long time. Arrancini with a truffle cream was another of the nibbles and if my tastebuds could, they’d probably have cried tears of joy – just thinking about them is making me salivate… We had a scallop and bream ceviche with vegetable tempura next with the Grande Cuvee. The flavours of the champagne integrated so well with an orange slice tempura – citrus city but really tasty. And the sweetness of the scallops was overcome by the Grande Cuvee. Good match. The 2000 Krug is a different creature altogether, much more linear and aromatic. Served with a ravioli of king prawn with a shellfish vinaigrette and fennel puree, the 2000 was fresh and had a delicate note to it, the sweetness of the prawns serve to highlight the fruit in the wine. Taking a further step back in time, the 1998 Krug is full of spices, mushrooms and the autumnal smells of the forest.  I really enjoyed this wine and with the roasted English rose veal,...

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The Table Cafe menu relaunch and new wine list

Aug 20, 12 The Table Cafe menu relaunch and new wine list

Posted by in Food and Wine, France, Italy

I went to the relaunch of  The Table Cafe in Southwark the other day.  The main draw for me was the fact that fellow wino, Matt Walls had worked closely with the owner, Shaun Alpine Crabtree to create a wine list that was features wines and grapes that might not normally be found on UK wine lists. The evening was jam packed with the wine-eratti of the blogosphere, thanks to Matt Walls, who was on hand to meet and greet and talk about his new book (Drink Me) as well as the wines that he had chosen for the list. A small, thoughtful list, there were lots of wines that I, as a wine person, wish would get more exposure: for the reds, St. Laurent (Austrian red), Mencia from Bierzo, a reasonably priced and good Nebbiolo (£30), for the whites – Grillo, Verdeca, and Garnaxta blanc. That was just a few examples of the off the beaten track wines to be found. The best thing is the markup is not outrageous, the majority of the wines in the under £30 price range. Table Cafe was also introducing a new menu from Chef Cinzia Ghignoni, lately of Duck Soup in Soho, who wants the kitchen to focus on regional Italian cooking with a special emphasis on the cuisines her home region, Northern Italy. Table Cafe is also a big proponent of sustainability and recently was granted 2 stars by the SRA for their use of  herbs from local allotments and Regent’s Park honey. The menu is divided into small and large plates and they serve Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Brunch on the weekends. Their full menus are here  online. As for us, we had a sampling of the food and wine that evening:  I neglected to take a pic of the first starter which was Baccala mantecato with polenta crisps paired with a Portuguese Adega de Moncao Vinho Verde 2011. Very garlicky but as with all things garlic, so, so good. Loved the polenta crisps,...

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