Nye-TIIIIMMMMMBER!! or do Londoners ever venture to Kent to eat?

“Denise, might it transpire that you could accompany me to a dinner on Friday in the deepest, darkest hinterlands of Kent for a repast of succulent British cooking paired with the ever so delightful English Sparkling wine, Nyetimber. We will be dining at the Michelin starred restaurant, Chapter One, on the outskirts of Bromley.” Ok, that’s not exactly how my friend Douglas (Intoxicating Prose) worded it but you get the idea. He is so eloquent and he actually does speak like that! I deeply admire someone who can use words like transpire and succulent in everyday speech. He had me at ‘Michelin starred’, but Bromley?!? This I had to see to believe. Pulling out of London Bridge with a half bottle of Pouilly-Fuisse to sustain us on our train journey to Bromley or therebouts we were off to the wilds of Kent. Chapter One is actually between Bromley and Orpington in a place called Locksbottom Common, anyway you look at it, it’s not London, which is a bit of a shame because it is excellent. They are one of the few restaurants in England that currently hold a Michelin star and we were there to review a spring menu that Executive Head Chef Andrew McLeish had paired with each vintage of the award winning English sparkling wine, Nyetimber. Finding it was a bit of a chore. Once off the train and onto a local bus we were directed to get off the bus “when it passes the big Sainsbury’s,” which is a fine marker if the big Sainsbury’s was on the main road instead of tucked about 200 metres off the street behind an even bigger building. Luckily, the locals are very friendly to “foreigners” and helpfully shouted to us and the bus driver when we were supposed to disembark.¬† A short walk up the hill, negotiate a very busy 4 lane¬† road and we were there! I’m beginning to see why Londoners don’t venture out. Happily, we were greeted with big smiles and...

read more

more English wine -Chapel Down visit and lunch

Driving along the road we passed an old WW II airfield complete with light aircraft swooping by overhead. “You know when you watch those old WW II movies with stock shots of an English field and airbase with the subtitle, ‘Somewhere in England?’ Well, this is where they got that footage, ” said Frazer Thompson, my rather informative and charming host from Chapel Down Winery. We were on our way to the vineyard just outside the town of Headcorn in deepest Kent when we passed the airfield. It’s always nice to get out of the city and appreciate nature in all it’s beauty and I couldn’t have picked a better place to spend an early summers day then the “garden of England” as Kent is so often referred to. And rightly so, the land is perfectly suited to grow everything from apples to strawberries and Kent is the centrepoint of hop production for real English ale. I’d read stories of East Enders descending on Kent in the summer to pick the hops (amongst other things – *wink*) during the first half of the 20th century but only had a hazy idea of where that was in relation to London. And now, here I was, smack dab in the middle of all those lovely hops, I swear I could smell them in the air. But I wasn’t there for ale, I was there for the wines of Chapel Down. Their Tenterden vineyard is sitting on some great wine producing land. The soils of the area are clay with sandy bottom layers which provide excellent drainage as well as the even better chalky limestone soils. Those two soil types make for excellent grapegrowing potential and Chapel Down amongst others is taking full advantage of nature’s gifts. Kent is located along the famed Kimmeridgian ridge which is a shallow sea that has now been lifted above sea level and provides the limestone soils that Champagne is famous for, which allow it to produce it’s distinctive sparkling wines...

read more
%d bloggers like this: